Toronto, Day 1: Royal Ontario Museum

We are fortunate to have a good friend who grew up in Ontario and is familiar with the Toronto scene. One of his recommendations was that we visit the Royal Ontario Museum…which was fabulous! I love natural history museums, but sometimes get overwhelmed by them if their displayed collections are too large. Somehow the thrill of seeing your 502nd Greek vase or your 38th sarcophagus just isn’t there (I’m talking about you, British Museum!).

The ROM offers great collections, covering a lot of ground, but in a continually engaging way. Definitely a fun place to spend an afternoon!

We started with their display of Roman glass (click an image to enlarge it).

Did you know the iridescent, opalescent colors you often see on ancient glassware wasn’t the result of how the glass was produced? I didn’t. Turns out it comes about as the glass lies buried, aging, in certain kinds of sediment and begins to break down.

No collection of Roman art would be complete without imperial heads. I don’t recall which emperor this was, but it was an early example of the Romans developing a technique for sculpting intensely coiled hair. Which was apparently all the rage, for quite a while.

Another thing the ROM taught me was that the ancient Egyptians would frequently embalm and bury a deceased person’s pets with them1. Nor were these just your expected cats and dogs. They also included things like snakes and baby alligators.

I’m not sure Moose will go for this

One of the more striking displays within the ROM is its collection of rocks, minerals and gems. Every natural history museum I’ve ever visited has something along this line…but the ROM, particularly for its size, really went to town on this in a big way. Barbara commented that may be due to the importance of mining in Canadian history. But whatever the reason, there’s an enormous amount of beauty laid out in one very large room.

But the piece de resistance had to be this specially minted 100 kg gold coin:

At this point we decided to take a brief coffee break. I don’t recall seeing the name of the cafe inside the museum, but for my money it should be called the Dinosaur Butt Cafe:

Our next stop was the Chinese artwork collection. I’ve always been amazed at how beautiful Chinese art can be, and how it fuses conventions into different forms than Western art (click an image to enlarge it):

They also produced some wonderful statues (click an image to enlarge it):

We wrapped up our visit by checking out these two guys. Barbara thought they’d make good landscape decorations for our backyard…but I think shipping them home would be quite expensive (click an image to enlarge it):

  1. hopefully the pets were already dead 

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