A Place of Awe and Reverence

1970s

A Place of Awe and Reverence

Era: 

  • 1968 - 1982

My childhood recollections of the ROM include entering the magnificent rotunda from the steps on University Ave. As my father paid the admission, my brother and I simply gazed upward at the mosaic on the ceiling in awe. directly behind the admission cashier were the steps leading toward the old great hall.

The great hall was the stuff of boyhood imagination: in the centre, under natural illumination from the skylight, was the scene of a knight on his charger, both man and beast in full jousting armour, with the attendants with equipment and pennons at his side. Ringing the walls of the hall were displays of armours, firearms, and ancient weapons, as well as interesting pieces of sculpture that complemented they other displays. The frescoes above the east and west walls of the room showing crusader knights and horse archers are the only evidence of this display today.

As the day went on, we would wander to the various galleries on the main and upper floors, revelling in colourful dioramas, the expanse of collection cases filled with exotic and fearsome insects, and of course, the amazing scenes of dinosaurs filling their prehistoric imagined landscapes and confronting their skeletal foes. Toward closing time, we were in the galleries in the basement, where aboriginal peoples' displays were featured. The quiet and relative darkness made the painted masks seem magical, strange, and particularly eerie. Echoes abounded in almost all the galleries, giving me the impression of being in a great church or temple; the sense of reverence giving my brother and I to talk mainly in whispers as we took in all the wonderful objects.

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