Royal Ontario Museum … a good deal

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It’s surprising what changes 5 years can bring for a former Torontonian.  The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, affectionately called the ROM, has expanded and offers many hours of learning.  I recently paid a visit to the ROM with my 10 year old daughter and 4 year old son.  We arrived mid morning on a hot, sticky July day and discovered for those of you who haven’t been to the ROM in a while that the main entrance is on Bloor St. around the corner from its old entrance on Queen’s Park.

Currently the ROM has a special exhibition “Ultimate Dinosaurs-Giants from Gondwana”.  If you are fascinated by dinosaurs, this one is not to be missed.  The bones and fossils found here are even more spectacular than the famous T-Rex and Triceratops.  These giants have only been unearthed in the last 20 years from the southern hemisphere of our planet.  The one draw back for a little person are the realistic sound effects, which made my four year old a bit nervous.

After wandering through the dinosaurs on the lower level, we made our way up to some of the more familiar exhibits on the third level in the Philosophers’ Walk Wing.  We enjoyed looking at artefacts from early Greece, Rome and Cyprus; busts and statues of people, even some nudes!  There are artefacts for the home, beautiful jugs and vessels for wine and water, flasks for oil and perfume, oil lamps like what one might imagine “Aladdin” might have used.  There is jewellery and a vast array of coins from different lands.  There is also an interesting section on Egypt including a really mummy, and mummified pets(!), a reproduction of a tomb in a pyramid and a bust of the famous queen Cleopatra.

The children’s favourite level was the second in the Philosopher’s Walk Wing.  It was created with children in mind; “Hands on Biodiversity”, the “Discovery Gallery”, the “Bat Cave” and “Life in Crisis”.  This wing has beautiful displays of taxidermy, investigating creatures that are going extinct and the reasons why.  The “Hands on Biodiversity” allows children to handle animal bones, observe bees in a hive, make etchings of animal tracks and a variety of leaves, there are also colouring books and other activities.  On the opposite end of the wing is the “Discovery Gallery”, budding archaeologists can dig for dinosaur bones, if fashion is more interesting there are costumes from the various ages and cultures to try on, there is a tiny tot zone and a First Nation’s tent to venture in.

If anyone becomes peckish, the Food Studio Cafe in the basement level offers a kid friendly buffet style fair: burgers, dogs, grilled cheese and fries.  There are cold sandwiches, fruit and veggie salads, a variety of beverages and tasty looking sweets.  For a place with a captive audience, the prices at the cafe were reasonable.

Admission for adults was $15 but to enjoy the Ultimate Dinosaurs it was $25.  However if you just want to spend a 1/2 day looking around, $15 is quite reasonable.

In the five interesting and educational hours spent at the ROM, we managed only to view about one third of the museums galleries.  We’ll have to visit other galleries on our next visit.  Visiting the ROM is a great way to spend the day with the family and beat the heat on those hot, smoggy, summer days.

For more info visit www.rom.on.ca

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