Royal Ontario Museum: Toronto's Museum of World Cultures

The Royal Ontario Museum: Toronto’s Museum of World Cultures

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The Royal Ontario Museum, commonly known as the ROM, is one of Canada’s largest and most renowned museums. Located in Toronto, Ontario, the ROM holds an extensive collection of art, culture, and natural history, attracting over 1 million visitors each year.

With diverse exhibitions spanning world cultures and natural wonders, the ROM provides an exceptional opportunity to explore human civilization and the natural world. Read on to discover the fascinating history, vast collection, and visitor information for Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum.

A Brief History of the ROM

The Royal Ontario Museum was established in 1912 and officially opened to the public in 1914. The original building, designed by Toronto architects Frank Darling and John A. Pearson, was intended to be a field museum with exhibits centred around natural history and geology. In the decades that followed, the ROM’s collection expanded vastly, particularly in areas of world art and culture.

Major expansions to the museum took place in 1933, 1974, and 2007, vastly increasing gallery space. The iconic Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, comprising five prismatic structures, opened in 2007 as part of Renaissance ROM to increase public space. Now spanning over 1 million square feet, the ROM houses diverse galleries, exhibition spaces, and Canada’s largest museum shop.

As one of the largest museums in North America, the ROM is an anchor attraction in Toronto and an institution dedicated to furthering our understanding of human cultures and the natural world.

Galleries and Exhibitions at the ROM

The Royal Ontario Museum contains over 6 million objects in its collection, with a fraction on display at any time in the museum’s 40 permanent galleries. From Egyptian mummies to precious gems and crystals, there is always something incredible to discover. Here is an overview of the top galleries and exhibitions at the ROM:

World Cultures

The ROM’s World Cultures galleries showcase human culture across continents. Highlights include:

  • Chinese Galleries – Jade sculptures, porcelain pieces, paintings, and more from ancient and modern China.
  • Japan Gallery – Historic and contemporary Japanese works like samurai armour, cloisonne vases, and anime/manga.
  • South Asian Gallery – Arts and artefacts spanning 4,500 years from India, Pakistan, and beyond.
  • Africa Gallery – Masks, textiles, carvings, and more traditional and contemporary African art.
  • Americas Gallery – Indigenous arts from North, Central, and South America.
  • Ancient Egypt Gallery – Over 1,000 Egyptian artefacts including mummies, stone carvings, and jewellery.

Art Galleries

Spanning European masterpieces to modern and contemporary works, the ROM is a world-class art museum. Galleries include:

  • European Art Galleries – Paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, and more from medieval to early 20th century Europe.
  • Hands of God Gallery – Sculptures from 13th to 16th century Europe including works by Donatello and Antonio Lombardo.
  • ** Sam and Ayala Zacks Pavilion** – Home to modern and contemporary art with works by Picasso, Warhol, Pollock, and more.
  • Gallery of Korea – Arts from the Joseon Dynasty and modern Korea including ceramics, paintings, calligraphy, and more.
  • What’s Next? Art and Artifice in Roman Antiquity – Exhibit exploring Roman reproductions and “replica culture” (open through April 2025).

Natural History

With a collection of over 5 million specimens, the ROM allows visitors to explore millennia of natural wonders. Must-see galleries include:

  • Dinosaurs! – Showcasing dinosaurs from the Cretaceous period including skulls, fossils, and full skeletal mounts.
  • Bat Cave! – Recreated roosting space displaying bat diversity and biosonar technology.
  • Meteorites and Astromineralogy – Stunning examples of meteorites alongside rare/valuable crystals and minerals.
  • Fossils Gallery – Featuring 550-million-year-old soft-bodied organisms from the Burgess Shale.
  • Wildlife Galleries – Dioramas depicting mammals from around the globe alongside hundreds of taxidermic specimens.

Featured and Temporary Exhibitions

The ROM always houses exceptional featured exhibitions plus new exhibitions that rotate 3-4 times per year. Some upcoming highlights include:

  • Here We Are Human at a Crossroads – Photographic exhibit exploring humanity’s relationship with nature and the climate crisis (open through September 2024).
  • The Art of Anime – Exploring Japan’s famous animation art form through concept sketches, cels, posters and more (open November 2024 – March 2025).
  • The Pharaoh Speaks: Words from the New Kingdom – Audio-visual Egyptian exhibit with spoken inscriptions (opens July 2025).

With diverse galleries and exhibitions spanning world cultures, art, and natural history, every visit to the ROM holds new discoveries. Check the ROM website for a full exhibition schedule.

Visiting the Royal Ontario Museum

The Royal Ontario Museum is located at 100 Queens Park in Toronto, Ontario. Here is key information for planning your visit:

Hours and Admission

The ROM is open daily from 10 am to 5:30 pm on weekdays and 10 am to 8:30 pm on Fridays. The museum is closed on Mondays from October through May.

  • General Admission: $25 for adults, $21 for seniors/students, $13 for kids 4-14. Free for children 3 and under.
  • Friday Nights: Discounted admission after 4:30 pm on Fridays. $19 for adults, $14 kids/seniors.
  • Membership: Options include unlimited free general admission plus other benefits.

Advanced timed tickets are recommended to guarantee entry. Tickets can be purchased on the ROM website.

Getting There

The ROM is conveniently located right next to Queens Park subway station. It can also be accessed via several bus routes and is within walking distance of Bloor/Yonge station. Limited paid parking is available around the museum.


The Royal Ontario Museum is accessible with ramps, elevators, and wheelchairs available on-site. ASL interpretation can be arranged with advance notice. Sensory kits for children with autism are offered. Service animals are welcome.

Dining and Shopping

The ROM has several dining options including C5 Restaurant Lounge and the Museum Café. The ROMbus food truck is open on weekends. The Museum Shop offers Canadian-made products, ROM souvenirs, and jewellery/home goods.


Various guided tours are offered daily including highlights tours in English, French, Mandarin, and Cantonese. Private group tours can also be booked. Free app-based audio tours are available in 7 languages.

Whether you have hours or a full day, the Royal Ontario Museum is a must-visit Toronto attraction. With world-class galleries and exhibitions, you’re sure to make fascinating discoveries at Canada’s largest museum of art, culture, and nature. Plan your visit today!

Frequently Asked Questions About the ROM

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto:

What are the must-see galleries and exhibits at the ROM?

Some of the most popular galleries include the dinosaur fossils in the Natural History wing, the Egyptian mummies and artefacts, the gem and mineral hall with the giant geodes, the Indigenous Canadian exhibit, and the Asian art and culture exhibits. Special exhibitions also draw big crowds.

Are there any free days or times to visit the ROM?

General admission to the ROM is not free, however, Fridays from 4:30-8:30 pm offer discounted admission prices. ROM members get unlimited free general admission. The museum also offers free community access mornings once per month, check the website for details.

Is there a restaurant or café inside the ROM?

Yes, there are a few dining options. C5 Restaurant Lounge offers fine dining for lunch and dinner. Balzac’s café and the Museum Café offer more casual fare like sandwiches, soups, pastries and coffee. The ROMbus food truck operates on weekends.

Is the Royal Ontario Museum kid-friendly?

Absolutely! The ROM is very family-friendly. There are multiple hands-on galleries and interactive exhibits for kids, including the Discovery Centre. Backpacks with activities can be borrowed for kids’ exploration. Strollers and wheelchairs are available for rent.

Are pets allowed at the museum?

No pets are allowed inside the Royal Ontario Museum except for trained service animals. There is no kennel or pet holding area on-site. Visitors cannot leave pets unattended on museum grounds.

When is the best time of day or year to visit the ROM to avoid crowds?

The ROM tends to be busiest in the summer, on weekends and during school holidays. Visiting on a weekday morning during the school year is a good bet for fewer crowds.

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