ROM Governors

The Future Gallery of Early Life

Telling the Extraordinary Story of Life on Earth

Our planet is 4.5 billion years old. For four billion of those years, some sort of life has been present and the story is a vast, sweeping tale, full of dramatic natural events, mass extinctions, global ice ages and the astonishing, inspiring ability of life to persevere. Over the past century, ROM researchers have contributed significantly to unravelling the pieces of the evolutionary puzzle.

The future Gallery of Early Life will play an integral role in telling the complete story of life, and the unfolding panorama of natural history on the second level of the Museum’s Hilary and Galen Weston Wing. It will also be a model for future galleries and for museums worldwide, the kind of innovative participatory gallery that invites visitor input, and offers visitors new and exciting experiences each and every time they return. 

The ROM has some of the world’s largest and most compelling collections of early life. The gallery will have a particular focus on fossil ‘hotspots’ in Canada, including the Burgess Shale (British Columbia), Joggins (Nova Scotia), Miguasha (Quebec) and Mistaken Point (Newfoundland and Labrador). The first three sites have been deemed UNESCO World Heritage Sites for their outstanding value to our natural heritage and Mistaken Point is on the cusp of being recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

All of these sites are also active research locales, worldwide “hot spots” where researchers from around the globe travel to further delve into the rock and add to our understanding of our common history. ROM palaeontologists complete several expeditions each year.

Investment Opportunities: For additional information on investment opportunities contact Dianne Lister, President & CEO, ROM Governors, at 416.586.8055 or

Did you know?
• Early Life begins with the earliest life forms found on earth, approximately 500 million years ago. It represents nearly 85 per cent of the Earth’s history and yet studies have only just begun to scratch the surface of understanding it.

• Canada’s oldest fossils are 3.5 billion years old and the youngest are less than 10,000 years old.

• Over the past 37 years, ROM researchers have built the world’s largest and most definitive Burgess Shale fossil collection.

• ROM curator Jean-Bernard Caron is widely acknowledged as the leading expert on the Burgess Shale.

• The ROM’s Gallery of Early Life will feature the most ambitious, authoritative, and comprehensive Burgess Shale exhibition anywhere in the world.