Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto

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The largest museum in all of Canada, the Royal Ontario Museum (also known as the ROM to locals) is a force to be reckoned with on the attraction scene. Here you’ll find an impressive array of natural, cultural, and artistic objects on display, from dinosaur fossils to gemstones to Ancient Egyptian artifacts. More than a million visitors flock to the ROM each year to see their marvelous collections, making it one of the most popular museums in the entire country.

Founded in the early twentieth century, the ROM was run by the nearby University of Toronto until 1968 when management transferred to the Ontario government. Today the museum continues to have close ties wit the University, however, and many faculty and staff coordinate from both locations. As a result, the ROM is also at the forefront of conservation and research efforts as Canada’s largest field-research institution.

With over six million items and 40 distinct galleries, the ROM has so much to offer guests that you can spend an entire afternoon roaming its vast expanses. They also offer two distinct special exhibit galleries, usually showing unique traveling exhibits. Admission to these galleries comes at an additional cost. 

What’s at the Royal Ontario Museum? 

The ROM’s main collections are spread across three floors, with three additional floors housing smaller exhibits and studios. While there is simply too much at this museum to cover the entire contents of each exhibit, here is an example of the diversity of their collections. This selection is also designed to highlight their most famous exhibits and galleries.

East Asian Art & Culture

Encompassing a wide array of Asian cultures including China, Japan, and Korea, these sections focus on the many gorgeous ancient artifacts that ROM possesses such as pottery, wooden sculptures, jade jewelry, religious objects, and more. A highlight of this collection is the series of temple wall paintings from the Yuan Dynasty, which are the best-preserved examples of their kind in the world. Here is where you’ll also find a reconstructed Imperial Palace and a Ming Dynasty era tomb.

Ancient Cultures

This series of galleries covers the most renowned classical cultures such as Rome, Byzantium, Cyprus, and cultures of the Aegean. Arguably the most popular in this section is their fine collection of Ancient Egyptian artifacts, architecture, and mummies. They also possess a large number of artifacts that evoke daily life throughout the vast history of Egyptian culture, from jewelry and cosmetics to farming tools and weapons. Those interested in cultures of the Aegean will enjoy their extensive collection of pottery, armor, and coins.

Canadiana

Unique to the ROM, these galleries focus specifically on the history and culture of Canada, from the First Peoples to European settlers. One of the strengths of the ROM is in their significant collection of Native art and craftwork, with more than 1,000 objects in just one gallery alone. Collections focusing on European settlers and early Canadians emphasize furniture, painting, and the decorative arts, with more than 550 distinct objects. You’ll see a strong emphasis on the British and French heritage of early Canada.

European Art & Artifacts

These galleries contain well over 4,500 objects, from the medieval period to the twentieth century, with a special focus on the decorative arts. The exhibit is designed to trace the history of European culture through the emphasis on artifacts, with items as diverse as furniture, armor, and sculpture. A special emphasis on objects relating to Jewish culture incorporates books, religious artifacts, and artwork. There’s also a specific room dedicated to Art Deco.

Dinosaurs

A favorite with children everywhere, these dinosaur galleries are filled with magnificent fossils of astonishing scale, featuring everything from your old favorites to a newly discovered dinosaur. With hundreds of specimens that run as big as dinosaurs and as small as marine plants, this gallery is filled with fossils from the Jurassic to the Cretaceous period. Be sure to say hi to “Gordo,” their famous Barosaurus!

Bat Cave

This exhibit is hugely popular. Based on a real cave in Jamaica known as St. Claire Cave, Bat Cave is as authentic as it gets when it comes to mimicking real bat living conditions. With a recent renovation in 2010, the exhibit features more than 20 distinct specimens of bat, helping visitors to learn about the lives and habits of these fascinating creatures. Including over 800 models, exhibits on echolocation, and a simulation of a swarm of bats in flight, the Bat Cave is a must-see.

Earth’s Treasures

Featuring gemstones and mining techniques, these galleries contain some of the most beautiful and most striking artifacts in the entire museum. Everything from gorgeous amethyst to fascinating copper is on display, even including some meteorite samples. The history of these minerals spans more than 4.5 billion years of geologic time. There’s also an exhibit that focuses specifically on global mining practices, past and present, which includes some interactive elements for children like a touchable gold wall.

Museum Dining & Shopping Options

Druxy’s ROM Café is your dining option at this attraction. Operated by local favorite Druxy’s Famous Deli, this café is more than your typical attraction fare. You’ll be able to enjoy their popular sandwiches and salads, as well as a selection of grilled items like hamburgers and even pizza. You can also choose from a variety of pasta and rice options. The menu is very kid-friendly, and also offers significant healthy options for the diet-conscious.

There are two main options for souvenir shopping at the ROM – the main floor boutique, and the ROM Kids Boutique on the second floor. As you might expect, the children’s store focuses on natural history-themed toys and games, as well as related books and exhibit and institution-inspired t-shirts. The main floor boutique is much larger and more wide-ranging in its offerings, featuring everything from beautiful artisan craftwork replicas of famous artifacts to unique home décor to stationary and books.

Tips for Visiting the Royal Ontario Museum

  • It takes about 2 – 3 hours to see everything, so pace yourself!
  • With CityPass, you get to skip the ticket line and go straight to the exhibits.
  • Make a point of walking up and down the main stairwell (the Stair of Wonders) – you’ll be able to see cool mini-exhibits that way!
  • A good option for exploring the museum is the free highlight tour, which runs about 45 minutes and covers the most significant holdings of the ROM.
  • If you want to consult a map ahead of time to help you plan your approach, you can download the floor plan from their website.
  • If you’re looking for more kid-specific activities, be sure to visit the Discovery Gallery and the Gallery of Hands-on Diversity.
  • Current special exhibits cost an additional fee on top of admission and are not included with CityPass admission.

 

Where to Buy It

There are a number of ways you can enjoy admission to .

1. Purchase a ticket from  when you get there.

2. Purchase a Tourist pass. The  is available on the Toronto CityPass.