Donors Endow ROM Curatorship of North American Archaeology

From left: Gino Vettoretto, Isabel Alves-Vettoretto and Christian Vettoretto 

One ROM curator can touch thousands of lives through the collections they develop, the exhibitions they curate, the students they mentor, the courses they teach, and through their own path-changing research and collaborations.

Perhaps no one appreciates this more than the Vettoretto Family, who have made a generous donation to establish the Isabel and Gino Vettoretto Curatorship of North American Archaeology. Their gift was matched by the ROM’s Louise Hawley Stone Charitable Trust, to endow this prestigious and important position in perpetuity.

Dr. Craig Cipolla will be the inaugural holder of the Vettoretto Curatorship. He is Curator of North American Archaeology at the ROM and an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto.

“We are very proud to support Dr. Cipolla and the ROM’s critical work in collaborative archaeology and repatriation,” says ROM Governor Isabel Alves-Vettoretto. “The Museum has always been an important place of learning for our family, and we see this endowment as a way to ensure this important collection and the research associated with it will reach a  wider audience.”  

The ROM’s North American archaeology holdings include an extensive Ontario archaeology collection, representing all eras of human history in the province. Dr. Cipolla is designing new research on these rich collections, working with objects ranging in age from thousands of years old to more recent collections that date to the 19th century. 

A major theme of Dr. Cipolla’s work is the last 500 years of Indigenous-colonial history, including studying the reservation system in the United States and the fur trade in Ontario. An important part of his role is also to enable other researchers and community members to access the ROM collection, and to help to train the next generation of archaeologists and museum professionals.

Dr. Cipolla’s vital work reframes archaeology for the 21st-century. Another major focus of his research is collaborative Indigenous archaeology, which entails working with Indigenous communities and nations on research design, fieldwork, writing and repatriation efforts. The goal of this work is to better-establish deeper relationships between museums and Indigenous nations in Canada and in the U.S.

“I am honoured to have the privilege and challenge of helping to uncover and share new insights embedded in the rich archaeological collection at the ROM,” says Dr. Cipolla. “In my role as Vettoretto Curator, I will do more than simply catalogue and study archaeological collections. I will work toward reshaping the discipline of archaeology through my research, teaching, collaborations, exhibitions and publications. I seek to help reshape the discipline so that we produce inclusive, nuanced, and all-around better understandings of the past, present  and future.”

Set to be published in early 2021, Dr. Cipolla’s new co-authored book, Archaeological Theory in Dialogue, critically examines different perspectives within archaeology, exploring ethical issues and the ways that the discipline relates to, and incorporates, Indigenous knowledge and expertise.

The ROM is one of Canada’s most comprehensive “history classroom” and one of its largest extracurricular learning institutions. In the Daphne Cockwell Gallery dedicated to First Peoples art & culture, which shares the cultures and ongoing contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, the Vettoretto Curator will integrate archaeological interpretations to help chronicle the deep and variegated histories of current-day Ontario.

Archaeological collections offer unique, long-term perspectives on the everyday lives and experiences  of Indigenous peoples and settler-colonists. From the earliest traces of human history to the impacts  of colonialism, the ROM’s holdings of North American archaeology—a collection of hundreds of thousands of objects—is a wellspring of knowledge as diverse and engaging as those whose histories it helps to tell. We are deeply grateful to the Vettoretto Family and the Louise Hawley Stone Charitable Trust for enabling such stories to be uncovered and understood. 

To learn more about opportunities to endow a ROM curatorship or support the Museum, kindly contact, Kathryn De Carlo at