Joey and Toby Tanenbaum have contributed greatly to Toronto, from hospital facilities to performing-arts organizations to the Royal Ontario Museum.
Joey Tanenbaum’s grandfather, Abraham, arrived in Toronto in 1911. He started as a peddler of scrap metal with only $8.00 to his name. Nevertheless he built a substantial business, which his son Max expanded. Grandson Joey grew up in this hard-working environment but he discovered other interests as well. His art collection began with the purchase of his first painting for a hundred dollars in 1964.
Joey learned the importance of charity from his family, especially his grandmother. She taught him that “no matter how little one has, one must always share.” His wife Toby shares this belief; she graduated in business management in 1954, and is currently very active with the family's charitable foundation.
The Tanenbaums have been generous to the ROM. In 1997 they donated 300 artifacts of rare Byzantine art to the Museum. As a result, the ROM is now home to the largest collection of Byzantine art in Canada.
In 2000, the Tanenbaums donated over 1,800 antiquities from China, West Asia, and Europe, which is the largest single gift of artifacts (by value) that the ROM has ever received.
The Tanenbaums also gave a $3 million donation to help build the new gallery of Chinese art, as part of the Renaissance ROM project. In appreciation of this generous gift, the Museum has named the gallery the Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Gallery of China. They also recently gave an additional $500,000 to help make the ROM more accessible to people with disabilities.