We sat down with CBC's Matt Galloway to find out exactly what keeps bringing him back to the ROM
By: Douglas Thomson
Q: Do you visit the museum often?
A: Yes, I have a couple of young kids. We come on a fairly regular basis. Sometimes if there’s a special event, but also sometimes we come just to wander around. It’s a great place to explore—one of the places we go to just spend time in the city. That’s a
big thing for our family, to be out and about in Toronto as much as we can.
Q: Do you visit other museums when you travel? Do you have any favourites?
A: We go to a lot of different museums. I’m fascinated with cities, so in Barcelona we’ve been to The Museum of the City, that’s one of the great ones for us. Especially the subterranean catacombs... It tells you a lot about the history of the town that you’re in. I think that’s amazing.
One of the most interesting museums we’ve ever been to was in Havana. There’s a museum of music and musical instruments and it’s incredible. It’s filled with weird curiosities that you would not otherwise have a chance to wrap your head around.
Especially with young kids, they’re curious and interested in things and a museum is one place we can all go together. You leave feeing like you’ve learned a little bit about the culture of the place you’re in.
Q: Speaking of cities and cultural connections, perhaps the upcoming Mexican textiles exhibition, ¡Viva México! is a good example of this.
A: One of the things the ROM does is connect people with the city. Hopefully the Mexican community in Toronto will feel that same way after seeing ¡Viva México!. If you can do things like that to make more people feel like it’s their place, you’re going to have more people feel invested in it. Things like that can give people an entry point into a really important institution in the city.
Q: That’s a great sense of exploration.
A: Yes, and of unintentionality. The idea of being spontaneous and not having everything planned out in front of you. That to me is the gem of a place like the ROM.
Q: Are there any places at the ROM that are favourites for your children?
A: Oh yes, the bat cave. For a long time our kids were afraid to go in the bat cave. So we would go around the bat cave, or watch people come out of the bat cave. Or we’d get half way into the bat cave and have to leave. But they’re now at an age where they will go through the whole thing themselves, again and again and again! That’s now. But for a long time it was, “let’s go to the bat cave, let’s not go to the bat cave.”
Q: Do you have a favourite object at the ROM?
A: I remember the first time I saw the birds of paradise in the Crystal. I was on a tour for work. Then we went back later as a family and that was one of the things I was most keen to show them. I was fascinated by the way the birds sweep up the stairs. It’s meant to be something that you see on your way past, but I love that people stop and look at them.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who has never visited the ROM before?
A: In many ways you can see the ROM from the outside and then from the inside. If you stand at the corner of Bloor St. and Avenue Rd., in the right light, you can look in and see the life inside the building. You can see the dinosaurs, but also people moving around. There’s a real sense of a buzz that’s happening there. And then you go in and there’s a sense of animation that you wouldn’t expect, a real sense that there’s all this different life that’s there.
When we go, we go through the familiar places, bat cave, the dino gallery. And we like the biodiversity area where we can spend hours opening drawers and looking at eggs and things like that. And of course the gems. Then you end up upstairs wandering through little back spots that you wouldn’t otherwise plan to go to. So maybe my advice to someone would be to go and get lost. Turn left instead of right. When I go I sometimes plan to get lost.