The ROM’s Centre of Discovery - Fossils & Evolution is most fortunate to have an enthusiastic circle of dedicated Member supporters in the Friends of Palaeontology. Friends work closely with staff in the Palaeontology section to help develop and deliver popular public programs, including Identification Clinics, Family Weekends, March Break and Friday Night Live activities, and ROM Walks. Over the remarkable ROM Revealed weekend in May 2014, they helped guide thousands of visitors through the fossil collections, and in October, Team Palaeo participated in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Funds raised by the Friends through marathon sponsorships and other endeavours have been generously directed towards both invertebrate and vertebrate palaeontological research at the ROM. Although the group was formally established only three years ago, many of the Friends have been stalwart advocates for palaeontology at the ROM for much longer, and newer converts to the cause are just as passionate in their support. We recently had the pleasure of welcoming a delegation of Friends behind the scenes, and Judy Luginbuhl has been kind enough to offer some observations on the occasion.
On Friday, January 16, some of the members of Friends of Palaeontology were treated to a look at ROM’s Invertebrate Palaeontology collections and labs, and to a preview of plans for the new Dawn of Life Gallery. Jean-Bernard Caron, Dave Rudkin and Linda Tsuji met us and guided us past a long bench lined with interesting fossils which have been selected for the new gallery. As everyone who is lucky enough to get behind the scenes finds, there is much more material in the labs and in storage than there is on display. Does Invertebrate Palaeontology have more stored specimens than any other department? I don’t know, but we all noticed that the aisles between storage cabinets and lab benches were narrow, and the cabinets stretched from floor to ceiling.
The preliminary concept plans for the new gallery were spread out for us to see, and Jean-Bernard, Dave and Linda pointed out its features. Fossils from the Burgess Shale and Mistaken Point will have their own display areas, and there will be a section for fossils from Ontario, which will include some found right here in Toronto. Those of us volunteers who interact with Museum visitors will be delighted to be able to direct them to a spectacular new gallery when asked where our world-famous Burgess Shale collection is! And visitors will be amazed to see all the fossils from Ontario. For many people, fossils mean only dinosaurs. But the Ontario fossils are far older than the dinosaurs.
Now all that’s needed is to raise the necessary funds. The wonderful fossils, the scientific knowledge, and the design concept for the gallery are all at the ROM, just waiting. Let’s hope it’s not for too much longer.
We are grateful to Judy and all our Friends for their continued interest and support.
To find out more about how you can help with the Dawn of Life project, please contact the ROM Governors office at 416.586.5660.