Royal Ontario Museum opens Michael Lee-Chin Crystal Today – June 2

Doors open with free admission after outdoor concert

Today, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) unveils the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, the centrepiece of the Museum’s $270 million Renaissance ROM expansion project, designed by world renowned architect Daniel Libeskind. To celebrate the Architectural Opening & Building Dedication of the Lee-Chin Crystal, the ROM presents A World of Possibilities, a free outdoor concert for thousands of spectators on the new Bloor Street Plaza. Starting at 9:30 pm, the theatrical performance features an outstanding line-up of Canadian artists, complemented by spectacular visual effects projected on the dramatic exterior façade.

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada will officially dedicate the building and the doors will open to the public for the first time, with free admission through the night, courtesy of CIBC, the Inaugural Season Sponsor. On this historic occasion, the Governor General will be joined on stage by the Hon. Bev Oda, Federal Minister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women, the Hon. Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario, architect Daniel Libeskind, lead donor Michael Lee-Chin, and the Hon. Hilary M. Weston, Renaissance ROM Campaign Chair.

“Canada's New Government recognizes how important cultural infrastructure projects are to the vitality of Canada's cities," said Minister Oda. "Thanks to a federal investment of $30 million, through the Canada-Ontario Infrastructure Program, we can gather today to celebrate the opening of this extraordinary new facility."

"The Royal Ontario Museum is one of our crown jewels," said Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. "It shines even brighter with the opening of the new Michael Lee-Chin Crystal and helps make Ontario an even better place to live and visit."

A World of Possibilities:

Presented on three stages, A World of Possibilities tells the story of mankind’s timeless and adventurous pursuit of the impossible through pop, classical, rock, jazz, opera, folk and gospel performances. Hosted by film and television actor and writer Paul Gross and guest starring acclaimed actor and playwright Gordon Pinsent and award winning comedian and actor Séan Cullen, the 75-minute concert features special guest star Jann Arden, one of Canada’s most talented songwriters and recording artists, and a guest appearance by multi-Grammy award winning producer-composer David Foster, who will be writing and conducting the musical Grand Finale.

Showcased performers include: Sony BMG hit recording artist Eva Avila; Metropolitan Opera star and international recording artist Isabel Bayrakdarian; the impressive young voices of the Canadian Children’s Opera Chorus; Broadway star and holder of one of the longest running number one singles on the music charts, Deborah Cox; the talented classical quartet Canadian Tenors; multi-talented Pop and R&B musician George; Somali-Canadian hip hop artist K’naan; up-and-coming west coast singing star Cody Karey; the multi-talented musical collective Leahy; internationally known Cape Breton fiddler Natalie MacMaster; one of British Columbia’s rising stars Alexandria Maillot; aboriginal women’s ensemble M’Girl; Trinidadian-born comedian Jean Paul; the impressive contemporary gospel voices of Sharon Riley and The Faith Chorale; acclaimed environmentalist and scientist David Suzuki; and jazz sensation Dione Taylor, nominated for 2007 National Jazz Award for female vocalist of the year.

The free public concert is created and executive produced by internationally renowned TV and theatrical producer, writer and composer Mark Shekter, and directed by award-winning TV and film director and choreographer Robert Iscove. Production design is by Toronto’s Dany Lyne, a recent recipient of the Siminovitch Prize in Theatre and a Dora Award winner for set and costume design.

The Michael Lee-Chin Crystal:
Located at one of Canada’s most important urban intersections, the unique aluminum-and-glass-covered building is named in honour of Michael Lee-Chin, whose donation of $30 million launched the Renaissance ROM Campaign in May 2003. At the heart of its diverse community, this vibrant, light-filled structure will be the distinctive new symbol of Toronto for the 21st century. The entire development was designed by Studio Daniel Libeskind, in a joint partnership with Toronto’s Bregman + Hamann Architects. 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. It will provide Toronto residents and visitors with a place for contemplation, learning, and fun.”

Daniel Libeskind notes, “The Lee-Chin Crystal - designed in close collaboration with the Museum - is intended to transform the ROM into a focal point for the city and people of Toronto, a place of wonder and joy.” The 175,000 square-foot, aluminum-and-glass-covered Michael Lee-Chin Crystal houses seven galleries overlooking Bloor Street West as well as a graceful new main entrance and two soaring interior spaces - Hyacinth Gloria Chen Crystal Court and the Spirit House. 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, are other important features of the building.

Immediately following the Architectural Opening, the ROM is offering free admission with timed tickets from 12:30 am until 6 pm on Sunday, June 3, courtesy of CIBC. From June 3 to June 10, visitors can experience ROM Exposed, an architectural preview of Daniel Libeskind’s design. Most of the Lee-Chin Crystal’s unique spaces will be empty and open to the public before installation of permanent exhibits, along with the rest of the Museum. On June 11, the gallery floors in the Lee-Chin Crystal will temporarily close for the installation of permanent exhibits, but special exhibitions and public amenities remain open for visitors.

"CIBC is proud to continue our longstanding tradition of support for the ROM as the Inaugural Season Sponsor for the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal,” said Gerry McCaughey, President and Chief Executive Officer of CIBC. “Our bank's relationship with the ROM dates back to 1912, when Sir Edmund Walker, who was then the head of CIBC, served as founding Chairman of the ROM. We are honoured to be able to play a role in helping this outstanding public museum as it enters an exciting new phase of its existence."

The Architectural Opening & Building Dedication is the first of many special opening events through the 2007/2008 season. It also forms part of the opening weekend of Luminato, Toronto’s new Festival of Arts & Creativity, with over 100 events city-wide, from June 1-10, 2007. For information: www.luminato.com

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