Janet Carding, President and CEO, Royal Ontario Museum
Rounding out the first week of the New Year, I’m reminded of all the fantastic things that happened in 2011 at the ROM! For me it marked a great milestone – my one year anniversary with the Museum. For the ROM, we celebrated exciting exhibitions, saw inspiring programming, and experienced great changes. And for you, we introduced a ROM that’s more affordable and accessible with our new lower admission prices.
Let’s take a look back, shall we?
The Things We Saw
We kicked off the year saying goodbye to the Terracotta Army and jumping feet first into Water, an exhibition that explored one of the most critical global environmental issues of today. Complementary to Water, the ICC at the ROM hosted Edward Burtynsky: Oil, featuring photographs by renowned Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky.
The start of 2011 also saw the end of the highly acclaimed exhibition El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote to you About Africa, which during its engagement was augmented by Position as Desired, an exhibition of photographs documenting the experiences of African Canadians.
Half way through the year, we opened a suite of new permanent galleries, reintroducing visitors to the ancient civilizations of Rome, Byzantium and Nubia. Through notable artifacts and compelling video based on our own ROM research, you can now experience more than 2,500 years of history from Europe, Africa, and West Asia like never before.
The North American debut of Bollywood Cinema Showcards: Indian Film Art from the 1950s to the 1980s showcased the visual journey through Bollywood cinema advertising, just in time for the IIFA Awards in Toronto.
Who’s Drawing the Lines: The Journey of Judith Snow, still on view until January 21, features paintings by Toronto’s Judith Snow, a quadriplegic artist and world leader on inclusion issues for people labeled as disabled.
The exhibition that took us right to the end of 2011 was David Hockney: fresh flowers. The tweeting never stopped as we explored how technology plays a role in how we receive and interpret culture – a subject we hope to explore more in the future.
And finally, we welcomed 2012 by launching the world premiere of Maya: Secrets of Their Ancient World. On view until Monday, April 9, 2012, this original exhibition vibrantly brings to life the Classic Period (250 – 900 CE) of this ancient Mesoamerican culture.
We Did it Our Way , With the Help of Some Great Partners!
While exhibitions are a very important part of the mix at the ROM, just as interesting and equally as important is the time and energy we put into research. In 2011 ROM experts conducted field work and research across Canada, the United States and 18 countries around the world including Belize, Cameroon, China, Oman, Sudan, Suriname, Vietnam; ROM scientists discovered 24 new species of animals and 10 additional fossil species, and we published 90 scientific works ranging from unshrouding the early evolution of animals to the significance of the textiles trade in Madagascar.
In celebration of the arrival of NASA’s Dawn mission to the asteroid Vesta, we launched the world’s most comprehensive collection of meteorites thought to be from that asteroid. Vesta, the second largest asteroid in our solar system, gave way to our display of 30 diverse specimens, and the ROM is the only place you can catch a glimpse.
In 2011 we proudly launched ROM Press’ first ever children’s book – Burton and Isabelle Pipistrelle: Out of the Bat Cave. This imaginative book about the nocturnal adventure of a small pipistrelle bat named Burton and his sister, Isabelle has given young readers the opportunity to take the ROM experience home and re-live the adventures. We hear many bat caves out of bed sheets have been built since these hit the shelves.
The ROM and Parks Canada went virtual in a big way, collaborating on the launch of the Burgess Shale Online Exhibition. Considered the most current and comprehensive resource for knowledge on the Burgess Shale, the website provides, for the first time ever, an immersive journey into life on Earth half a billion years ago.
The Good Times We Had
We had a lot of fun in 2011!
This was my first year as a YPC member and I received a roaring welcoming by almost 700 young professionals at PROM: Into the Wild. Also hosted by ROM Governors, our 15th annual Fact? or Fiction? fundraising event challenged us to match wits with grade school students as we studied rarely seem objects from the Museum’s permanent collection.
The ICC at the ROM hosted a number of events featuring some of the greatest contemporary minds of our time, including a fresh flower themed Culture Shock fundraiser, including a visit by David Hockney, and the Eva Holtby Lecture on Contemporary Culture with Carlos Fuentes, Mexico’s most celebrated novelist and critic.
The Changes We Made
2011 was a year of epic change here at the Museum. In March we welcomed Dianne Lister as President and Executive Director of the ROM Governors, who hit the philanthropic ground running and has been working hard ever since to help the ROM achieve new heights of success.
We also welcomed Chef Corbin as the ROM’s new Executive Chef, who since his arrival has created new menus featuring simple, classic food that render me taking the stairs much more often.
And of course, our biggest change – the ROM’s new lower admission pricing. On behalf of everyone here at the Museum, it goes without saying that you – our guests – are at the heart of every thing we do. Offering you a more affordable and accessible ROM has been so rewarding, and we hope that you leave here each time knowing that you belong; that this is your Museum.
Here’s to the Future
Looking forward as we approach our centennial in 2014, our goal is to remain as vital to the community in the future as we have been in the past. Our centennial goal is to become more welcoming, more relevant and become an essential destination for everyone who cares about world culture and nature. This journey includes you! I hope you’ll stay in touch with me and the Museum and share with us all the things you enjoy about the ROM, as well as the things you would like to see more of.
Wishing you and yours a safe and happy new year!