At sunset on Saturday, June 2, 2007, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) will hold its official Architectural Opening & Building Dedication - a free public event to celebrate the construction completion of the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal. On this historic occasion, Governor General Michaëlle Jean will officially open the dramatic new wing of the Museum, named in honour of Michael Lee-Chin, whose lead donation of $30 million launched the Renaissance ROM expansion project. The building will then open to the public, with free admission overnight and through Sunday, June 3rd. Seven spectacular gallery spaces on four floors, two special exhibitions, new retail and dining facilities, and the Museum’s new main entrance will open the night of June 2nd following the opening celebrations (see full list, below).
ROM Director and CEO William Thorsell states, “It is difficult to imagine a more eloquent symbol of the ROM’s growth and revitalization than Daniel Libeskind’s Michael Lee-Chin Crystal. With its dynamic form, expansive public areas, and superb gallery spaces, the building is at once inspiring and practical. It will provide Toronto residents and visitors with a place for contemplation, learning, and fun. The Royal Ontario Museum is deeply grateful to Michael Lee-Chin for making this superb building possible.”
For a special period until June 10, enthusiasts of contemporary design have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to enjoy Daniel Libeskind’s architectural design in its purest form throughout the building.
During this period only, called ROM Exposed, most of the building’s unique spaces will be empty and open to the public before installation of permanent exhibits, along with the rest of the building. On June 11, the gallery floors will temporarily close for the installation of permanent exhibits, but special exhibitions and public amenities remain open for visitors.
On the evening of June 2, the public Architectural Opening & Building Dedication festivities will be celebrated on the new Bloor Street Plaza in front of the Lee-Chin Crystal. Those in attendance will experience A World of Possibilities, a 75-minute live concert event beginning at sundown, with star performances on three stages, climaxing in the illumination of the building’s impressive façade. This event will be filmed for television broadcast. (Performers and other details will be announced at a later date.)
After this unique performance, the doors of the new Michael Lee-Chin Crystal will open to the public for the first time, with free public admission by timed tickets. The Museum will remain open, with free admission sponsored by Inaugural Season Sponsor CIBC, until 6 pm on Sunday, June 3; regular admission rates come back into effect on Monday, June 4. The Architectural Opening & Building Dedication is the first of many special opening events through the 2007/2008 season. As each of the Lee-Chin Crystal’s seven permanent galleries is completed over the subsequent months, it will be marked by a special opening event.
About the Building
Located at one of Canada’s most important urban intersections, the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal will be the distinctive new symbol of Toronto for the 21st century, forming the hub of a renewed cultural district downtown. At the heart of its diverse community, this vibrant, light-filled structure transforms the streetscape in a bold urban gesture, establishing the ROM as the country’s premier cultural and social destination for residents and tourists alike.
The 175,000 square-foot, luminum-and-glass-covered Michael Lee-Chin Crystal will house seven permanent galleries overlooking Bloor Street West. It also contains a graceful new main entrance and lobby, the soaring four-storey interior Hyacinth Gloria Chen Crystal Court, the sizeable new ROM Museum Store, the attractive fine dining destination Crystal Five (C5) Restaurant Lounge (opening mid-June), excellent special events facilities, and Canada’s largest space for international exhibitions - Garfield Weston Exhibition Hall, below the lobby.
The Lee-Chin Crystal is a composition of five interlocking, self-supporting prismatic structures that gently interfaces with the historic buildings that embrace it. With hardly a right angle anywhere, its sloping walls create unique interior spaces with soaring volumes and such ingenious details as the Spirit House, a void at the heart of the building that is traversed by criss-crossing bridges. Slashing windows admit natural light and create uniquely-framed views of the cityscape outside. The historic façades are revealed on the interior in large and small sections, while the sleek, contemporary walls form dramatic backdrops for historic artifacts. Circulation is vastly improved through the addition of the J.F. Driscoll Family Gallery of the Stair of Wonders, a cabinet of curiosities in itself, plus several new elevators and links into the historic wings.
Opening on June 2nd
Level 1: New Bloor Street Entrance, Lobby and Coat Check, Hyacinth Gloria Chen Crystal Court, J.F. Driscoll Family Gallery of the Stair of Wonders, Spirit House, ROM Museum Store, including ROM Reproductions
Level B1: Food Studio, ROM’s fresh market eatery (in Philosophers’ Walk Building)
Level B2: Garfield Weston Exhibition Hall: Drama and Desire: Japanese Paintings from the Floating World, 1690-1850 - June 2 to August 12, 2007
Level 2: * Open gallery space, with exhibits to come:
Jim and Louise Temerty Galleries of the Age of Dinosaurs; Shreyas and Mina Ajmera Gallery of the Age of Mammals
Level 3:* Open gallery space, with exhibits to come: Gallery of Africa, Americas, Asia-Pacific;
Sir Christopher Ondaatje South Asian Gallery; Wirth Gallery of the Middle East
Level 4: * Open gallery space, with exhibits to come: Patricia Harris Gallery of Textiles & Costume; Institute for Contemporary Culture
* These gallery spaces close June 11 for installation; re-opening by spring 2008.
Daniel Libeskind notes, “The Lee-Chin Crystal - designed in close collaboration with the Museum - is intended to transform the ROM into an inspired atmosphere that will promote the resurgence of the Museum as the dynamic centre of Toronto. The foundation of virtually all of my work is a firm belief in culture as the driving force behind vital, creative cities and, indeed, nations. It is my hope that the Lee-Chin Crystal, as well as the other components of Renaissance ROM, will become a focal point for the city and people of Toronto, a place of wonder and joy.”
The Michael Lee-Chin Crystal is the centrepiece of the $250-million Renaissance ROM project. Renewing more than 75% of the ROM’s historic 1914 and 1933 buildings, this project is also Canada’s largest heritage restoration. By 2009, Renaissance ROM will create an additional ten galleries inside the historic buildings. The entire development was designed by Studio Daniel Libeskind, in a joint partnership with Toronto’s Bregman + Hamann Architects.
Michael Lee-Chin is a well-known international businessman and philanthropist, and member of the ROM Board of Governors and Renaissance ROM Campaign Cabinet. He is Chairman of Portland Holdings Inc., the parent to more than thirty diversified companies, operating in sectors that include financial services, insurance, telecommunications, hospitality, tourism, media, and healthcare.
Detailed information on tickets, the June 2nd Architectural Opening and Building Dedication, other opening-week events, and later gallery public openings will be released in the coming weeks. The Architectural Opening of the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal forms part of the opening weekend of Luminato, Toronto’s new Festival of Arts & Creativity, with over 90 events city-wide, from June 1-10, 2007. For more information: www.luminato.com