Meet the Experts

Portrait of Mary Burridge
Mary Burridge

Assistant Curator of Ichthyology

Casts in ROM galleries look just like real animals - like the fish in the biodiversity gallery. To make them, a cast is put around the dead fish, just like the cast a doctor makes for a broken bone. When the cast hardens, it's gently removed and used as a mould. The mould is filled with fiberglass, which is then painted to look like the real animal. Every detail from the real fish can be seen... even missing scales and fins!

Portrait of Matthew Vavrek
Dr. Matthew J. Vavrek

Assistant Curator, Ultimate Dinosaurs

For a long time we thought Tyrannosaurus rex was the largest land predator to have ever lived. But in 1995, palaeontologists described a new dinosaur from South America called Giganotosaurus, who might actually have been bigger than T. rex!

Portrait of Georgia Guenther
Georgia Guenther

Senior Exhibit Artist

My job is a challenge on a regular basis. Take the strawberry coral in the biodiversity gallery: it lives underwater, would shrivel to dust in a display case, and is too delicate to make a mould. So instead, I used red wax and tufts of a plant called Goats Beard to make a model (dandelion tufts were too delicate). The tufts had to be carefully trimmed and inserted into the wax, which is why the piece isn’t very big!

Chen Shen

VP, Senior Curator (Bishop White Chair of East Asian Archaeology)

Hi! The Forbidden City is my 3rd blockbuster exhibition at the ROM in the last 12 years. Each time I work on one, I get more excited... even though I know how much hard work it is! I am excited that I get to introduce more historic figures to you, from the First Emperor of China, Qin Shihuangdi, to the Last Emperor, Puyi, over 2000 years of Chinese history. But the most exciting part of doing all these exhibitions, especially The Forbidden City, is that I get to go into the vaults of museums in China to choose special objects and unveil their secrets to all of you! For example, ever wonder what a young Chinese emperor played with in the Forbidden City? Come to the exhibition and I'll show you the secrets!

Natural history technician with a stuffed owl
Brad Millen

Natural History Technician

What’s taxidermy? It’s when you take an animal's own real skin, treat it so it won't decay, and apply it to what's called a form. The form is basically a mould of the animal's body, either produced from a cast or sculpted out of clay. Things like eyes, teeth, and beaks are made of glass or some other artificial material, and added at the end. Any vertebrate - that is, anything with a backbone - can be taxidermied.

Kim Tait in the field
Kim Tait

Curator of Mineralogy

Around dinnertime on November 20, 2008, thousands of people in central Canada witnessed a bright fireball, or shooting star, streaking across the sky. Scientists figured out where the meteorites fell, and I got out there right away to help with the search. Over four days I found 13 meteorites myself! It was an amazing experience to discover and hold a piece of outer space, something that had traveled from between Mars and Jupiter - from the asteroid belt!