Adult Programs

Contexts: Lectures at the ROM

Come to the ROM to hear experts in the fields of natural history, world cultures, the environment, anthropology and archaeology. Lecturers will share new discoveries, amazing artifacts and cutting edge science in a fascinating series of monthly lectures.

10 AM Coffee an Tea in Druxy's ROM Cafe, Level B1

11:00 AM Lecture in Eaton Theatre

Note: FM assistive devices and ASL interpretation are available on request. ASL interpretation requires three weeks advance notice.

Contexts talks are supported by The Currelly Society

Wednesday, April 30
Ontario BioBlitz Program: ROM Biologists Breaking Records
On September 15th 2013, a ROM Biodiversity lead team of biologists, citizen scientists, naturalists and the general public accomplished something amazing: together, they recorded more biodiversity in one area than had ever been done before, or at least since the time of Darwin and Wallace! A world-record setting 1700+ individual species were identified in the Rouge National Urban Park in just 24 hours, including many plants, animals and fungi that had never before been recorded in the area.  The event has lead to a commitment from the ROM and our partners to continue the exercise in every major watershed in the Greater Toronto Area over the next 5 years, and inspired many other local communities across Ontario to join the movement.

This talk will showcase some interesting individual stories from previous years, and will describe future plans for the Ontario BioBlitz Program, including how you can get involved in the 2014 BioBlitz in the Humber Watershed on May 24 and 25.

Speaker: Dave Ireland, Managing Director, ROM Biodiversity
Wednesday, May 28
Currelly of the ROM
Charles Trick Currelly, a small town Ontario boy, grew up to have many adventures that coalesced in pursuit of a single mission: to establish a museum in Toronto that would demonstrate to its citizens the ways and means of other civilizations so that they would understand the foundations of their world. People still speak of him as the first director of the ROM. He was indeed the first director of the ROM of Archaeology. (However, there were four other ROMs with their own distinguished directors, who sometimes became annoyed at the attention Currelly commanded.) It was his belief that what the people really wanted to see were the artifacts in his museum. Until his retirement at the age of 70, he worked hard to further the breadth of the collections and the reputation of the place.

We will trace the forces that shaped the boy and then the man, with examples of his abilities to manage archaeological digs, donors, and the Board of Trustees. Some of his rollicking stories will be told again. His legacy will be considered in the light of today’s values.

Speaker: Julia Matthews, the former Head of the Library and Archives, has been working on several projects for the centennial celebrations. She bought a copy of I Brought the Ages Home Currelly’s memoir, in Varsity Stadium in 1968 when Ryerson Press was shut down. It cost 25 cents and she rereads it from time to time.

Wednesday, June 25

The Record of Nature through Countless Ages: Celebrating 100 Years of Invertebrate Palaeontology at the Royal Ontario Museum

Revealing the deep history of life on Earth was one of five key themes enshrined in the original mandate of the Royal Ontario Museum. Officially enacted on April 3, 1913, the Museum of Palaeontology, under the direction of Dr. W. A. Parks, joined the disciplines of Archaeology, Geology, Mineralogy, and Zoology in the common purpose of providing “… a home for culture and science under the same academical roof …” 

In the ensuing 100 years, palaeontology at the ROM has come to be synonymous, at least in popular view, with dinosaurs and Ice Age mammals. And why not? Fossil remains of these impressive vertebrate animals have enormous public appeal! But there is far, far more to the science of palaeontology than bones and teeth, and this talk will focus mostly on ROM palaeontologists who have made important and lasting contributions to our knowledge of a wide range of non-vertebrate fossils. We will also look at the enduring legacy of Sir Edmund Walker, Canadian banker extraordinaire, ROM founding father, and accomplished amateur palaeontologist. 

Speaker: David Rudkin, Assistant Curator, Natural History, Fossils & Evolution

Wednesday, September 24

One Hundred Years of Silent Springs: The extinction of the Passenger Pigeon and other birds of note.

Once considered the most abundant bird species on the planet, Passenger Pigeons became extinct 100 years ago. Today, the ROM houses the largest collection of Passenger Pigeons in the world along with representatives of all of the other North American extinct bird species. How did we get them? What are we doing with them? Join us as we trace the causes of the extinctions and the cast of characters that brought the collections to the ROM.

Speaker: Mark Peck, Collection Technician, Ornithology. Mark has been with the ROM since the summer of 1979, starting his museum career as a camp cook during faunal surveys in northern Ontario. He is now pigeon-holed and will not leave.

Included with Museum admission. Note: Contexts is not offered during July and August.

Date & Time

  • Last Wednesday of each month


  • Wednesday, April 30, 2014
    10:00 am - 12:00 pm
  • Wednesday, May 28, 2014
    10:00 am - 12:00 pm
  • Wednesday, June 25, 2014
    10:00 am - 12:00 pm
  • Wednesday, September 24, 2014
    10:00 am - 12:00 pm


Meet in Gloria Chen Court

Bloor Street (main entrance)