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Our Favorite Royal Ontario Museum Exhibitions

February 16, 2024 By CityPASS

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) serves downtown Toronto as a depository of culture and history. Known for its extensive and world-class collection, ROM offers an immersive journey through time and space, showcasing the largest collection of natural history specimens and cultural objects in Canada. From the permanent galleries that explore the cradle of civilizations to special exhibitions that delve into the secrets of culture and society, ROM is a comprehensive museum that never ceases to amaze. In this guide, we'll take you through our favorite Royal Ontario Museum exhibitions, spanning current showcases to timeless permanent collection highlights.

Current ROM Exhibitions

The Current ROM Exhibitions offer a dynamic and ever-evolving showcase of both global and local significance. In these exhibition spaces, visitors are invited to journey through varied realms — from the intricate tapestry of indigenous cultures and the enigmatic narratives of ancient civilizations to the captivating beauty of natural wonders and groundbreaking contemporary art. Each exhibition is meticulously curated, providing a lens through which to view the vast and diverse collections of the museum.

Being and Belonging

The Royal Ontario Museum's groundbreaking "Being and Belonging" exhibition shines a light on the creative expressions of 25 remarkable women artists from across the Islamic world, including West Africa, Southeast Asia, and the diaspora communities.

More than a mere showcase, this is a celebration of complexity and depth, weaving themes of identity, empowerment, sexuality, and the meaning of "home." It counters simplistic stereotypes, displaying a variety of artworks as meaningful as they are varied. "Being and Belonging" resonantly proclaims the diverse voices of women artists, offering a window into the Islamic world's vibrancy and multiplicity. From emerging talents to established names in the art world, the exhibition brings together a rich collection of narratives that reflect on the multifaceted experiences of women in the Islamic world.

Visitors should be aware that some artworks delve into sensitive topics and may include nudity. "Being and Belonging" is more than an exhibition; it's a powerful dialogue on the pressing issues of our time, seen through the lens of artists who are often underrepresented in global conversations.

Noelle Hamlyn: Lifers

Artist Noelle Hamlyn's exhibition, "Lifers," is a must-see at the ROM. This exhibition delves into the significant impact of textiles and fashion on global water quality, urging a contemplation on environmental responsibility and sustainable practices.

At the heart of this exhibition are over twenty reimagined life jackets, each meticulously hand-crafted by Hamlyn from discarded garments. These life jackets, or "lifers," serve as powerful visual metaphors, drawing attention to the environmental crisis plaguing the textiles and fashion industries. Each piece compels visitors to reflect on their personal fashion consumption behaviors and the consequential effects on water resources across the planet.

Complementing the lifers is a series of stunning, large-format photographs by Canadian photographer Geoff Coombs. These striking images enhance the narrative, immersing visitors in a visual exploration of the legacy of our clothing consumption and our complex relationship with the fashion industry.

Death: Life's Greatest Mystery

"Death: Life's Greatest Mystery" exhibit looks at how different cultures and nature have tried to understand life's ending. It asks the big questions people have always wondered about: Why do we have to die? What happens to our body? Does some part of us live on? These questions make visitors think about what they actually believe and feel about these necessary parts of life.

The exhibition uniquely demonstrates how life persists and evolves because of death, highlighting the essential role that death plays in the cycle of life. It invites visitors to consider the notion that life, in its myriad forms, continues and flourishes even after death, and in many ways, could not exist without it. This exploration at the ROM is not just an educational experience but also an opportunity for introspection and understanding the natural and cultural dimensions of one of life's greatest mysteries.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

The "Wildlife Photographer of the Year" is not just an exhibition; it's a global testament to the longest-running and most prestigious annual nature photography competition in the world. Categories include Underwater, Animal Portraits, Environment, Urban Wildlife, and several unflinching documentary photo compilations. The exhibition showcases a wide array of life on our planet.

The competition celebrates the rich diversity of life, aiming to inspire, inform, and foster advocacy for the planet. It upholds ethical wildlife photography standards, rewarding truthful and respectful representations of nature. This focus brings attention to the beauty and fragility of the world we live in, calling on viewers to reflect on their impact on our shared home.

Royal Ontario Museum Galleries

Willner Madge Gallery, Dawn of Life

The Willner Madge Gallery, Dawn of Life, presents an epic journey through Earth's early history. Here, visitors can explore the origins of life, from microscopic cells to the emergence of complex organisms, in a narrative that's as educational as it is awe-inspiring.

Teck Suite of Galleries: Earth's Treasures

In the Teck Suite of Galleries, visitors can marvel at the ROM's extensive collection of minerals and gemstones. This exhibition space is a treasure trove of Earth's riches, showcasing dazzling crystals and rare minerals that tell the story of our planet's geological history.

Gallery of Chinese Architecture

The Gallery of Chinese Architecture is an exploration of one of the mightiest civilizations of the ancient world. Featuring intricate models and artifacts, this gallery offers a window into the architectural feats and artistic traditions of ancient China.

Shreyas and Mina Ajmera Gallery of Africa, the Americas, and Asia-Pacific

This gallery celebrates the rich and diverse cultures of Africa, the Americas, and the Asia-Pacific region. From ancient artifacts to contemporary art, it highlights the cultural contributions and historical significance of these regions to the global tapestry.

Plan Your Next Royal Ontario Museum Visit With CityPASS

A visit to the Royal Ontario Museum is a journey through the annals of history and a celebration of the wonders of the natural world. With Toronto CityPASS® tickets, you can explore the museum's multiple levels, each filled with artifacts and exhibits that showcase the largest museum's commitment to preserving and educating about our world's diverse history and cultures. They even offer "after dark" programs for adults to experience nightlife within the museum's halls and exhibitions.

Toronto CityPASS® tickets not only provide access to the ROM but also to other top things to do in Toronto, making it a perfect choice for travelers or families looking to experience the best of the city. Whether you're interested in the ancient tales of lost civilizations, the detailed accounts of mighty civilizations, or the fascinating revelations of natural history specimens, the ROM with CityPASS® tickets is your gateway to a world of discovery.

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Header Image ©AJ Messier Photography/Royal Ontario Museum

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