- 1982 - 2000
Growing up without a lot of money in a small town outside of Toronto, trips to the museum were reserved for very special occasions, and I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I actually made it through the doors. But I remember every single one of those trips with vivid clarity.
There was a special kind of magic at the ROM for a girl with an overactive imagination. The immersive dioramas in the bat cave and the dinosaur gallery let me feel as though I was travelling around the world or falling through a crack in time, to be chased by Jurassic giants before finally finding my way back to my father’s arms.
But there were few things that held the fascination for me that the Discovery Gallery did. The ability to touch and interact with real museum objects took my breath away, and made me feel like the most special girl in the world. I learned so much from that little room in the basement, and it inspired my love of learning, particularly in the sciences. I would set up little labs on my dining room table with my Fisher Price microscope, examining seeds, and insect exoskeletons, and everything else I could get my hands on, aiming to recreate my experiences in Discovery. I used toilet paper and a great deal of imagination to turn my dolls into mummies. I wore paper crowns covered in glitter and a cape made from an old towel to take my place in the European galleries. One of my greatest treasures was the “I want my Mummy” ROM shirt my parents got for me one Christmas, which I wore until my mother had to conveniently “lose” it while doing laundry.
I suppose it was inevitable that, a few decades later, newly-graduated with a degree I couldn’t use and rather painfully underemployed, I found myself back at the ROM, putting my Zoology degree to work as a volunteer in Hands-on Biodiversity. Volunteering rekindled my love of the museum, and through it, I discovered that my real talents lay in teaching. I went back to school, got my teaching degree, and returned yet again to become a museum teacher.
There are very few people who wake up excited to go to work, and I count myself very lucky to be among them. I love what I do, and still can’t believe I actually get to come to work in this building every day. Part of me will always be that little girl, filled with awe and excitement as she counts the toes on the Egyptian mummy as part of her very first scavenger hunt. Only now I get to make a living working to inspire that same kind of wonder and discovery in others.
And I’m still having the time of my life.