First Word

Janet Carding, director and CEO, Royal Ontario Museum

A Letter from our Director and CEO

A Dynamic Museum

There are many myths about museums. One of them is that museums are static and unchanging—the museum as mausoleum. But the ROM is the opposite of that, and one of our tasks is to confound people's preconceptions. With its diversity of exhibitions, programs, lectures, and special events, its many new exhibits in the permanent galleries, and its fabulous stores and restaurants, the ROM is always different, and for many, an essential destination. Its appeal is broad spectrum, from the newest interactive exhibit technologies to traditional serene and contemplative spaces. Our Members understand the value of being connected to the Museum year round, of being kept abreast of what's on, and they are the first to be made aware of visits by outstanding guest lecturers and speakers such as Academy Award winner Meryl Streep and Pulitzer Prize winner Jared Diamond, whose talks were very quickly sold to capacity.

While we continually attempt to create new ROM Members, to increase the group who know the variety of what we offer, we also work hard to attract new visitors. Our research showed that many potential visitors felt that a one-time visit was cost prohibitive. In October 2011, we responded with significantly reduced admission prices, and we are beginning to see very positive results. It is our hope that many of our new visitors, on becoming aware of the enriching benefits of this dynamic Museum, will eventually also become Members.

This spring, our emphasis on narrative—the great stories of civilization and the natural world—finds expression in a variety of exhibits. The popular Maya: Secrets of their Ancient World continues until April 9, 2012. In conjunction with the exhibition, archaeoastronomer Anthony Aveni presents his lecture The End of Time: The Maya Mystery of 2012 (March 20, 7–8 pm), an authoritative interpretation of the Maya Long Count calendar and the Maya universe. A new exhibition, Shahnama: The Persian Book of Kings (opened February 25), features 14th- to 17th-century illustrations from this heroic epic. The Art of Collecting exhibits one hundred of the ROM's best examples of European and American decorative art, from rare maiolica to Art Deco silver. And, looking toward summer, the Museum is preparing for its huge blockbuster Ultimate Dinosaurs: Giants from Gondwana, sure to be a crowd pleaser, especially for families. Watch for more information in ongoing ROM communications.

In this issue of ROM, Canadian decorative arts researcher Ross Fox writes about Acadian colonial cabinetmaker John Tulles (1771–1827), several of whose masterworks are in the Museum's collections. Mammalogist Judith Eger spotlights coyotes, a timely topic of interest and, for some, concern. Paleontologist Jean-Bernard Caron explores the origins of present-day biodiversity in the Burgess Shale, the Canadian Rocky Mountains fossil record of the Cambrian explosion of life more than 500 million years ago. The ROM holds the world's largest collection of Burgess Shale fossils, and plans are under way for our Early Life Gallery, which will showcase the best specimens.

So tell your friends about what the ROM has to offer, and invite them to visit a museum where the only mausoleum is the Ming Tomb!