Lives and Legacies: A Lifelong Passion for the ROM

Doug Gibson

Doug Gibson has loved the ROM since childhood. Some of his earliest memories are of going to the Museum with his mother in the early 1950s, which sparked a lifelong fascination with natural history. “Back then, they had a crystal cave in the geology gallery,” he recalls. “When you looked into it, it was like an optical illusion.”

Even after he left Toronto for Brantford, Ontario, where he practiced family medicine for nearly 40 years, he often came back to visit the ROM. When he moved back to the city after retirement, he jumped at the chance to volunteer for the Museum that has been so close to his heart.

“The ROM has been a salvation to me every single day since I ended my practice, he says. “It has provided a source of learning and associations with volunteers and curatorial staff who are involved in significant research.”

Since joining the Museum in 2010, Doug has been a gallery interpreter and ROM Walker, and currently serves as a docent, leading visitors on tours around the museum to learn about the many wonders in its collections. He is also a member of the Friends of Palaeontology and Friends of Earth and Space, and has chaired the Docent and ROMWalks committee.

In his near-decade of volunteering, Doug has learned volumes about history, geology and palaeontology. A big believer in lifetime learning, he enjoys sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm with visitors, especially during free evening events, when the ROM opens its doors to underserved communities.

“As docents, we try to build a sense of wonder” he says. “Once you get people excited about objects like the Striding Lion from the Nebuchadnezzar’s throne room or the beautiful Light of the Desert Cerrusite gemstone, they will come back.”

Yet it’s not just the wondrous objects in the ROM’s collections that matter to Doug—he also values the Museum’s commitment to accessibility, diversity and Indigenous reconciliation. He’s especially proud of the ROM’s recent work in climate change, citing the newly endowed curatorship of climate change and the upcoming opening of the Dawn of Life Gallery in 2021.

“Climate change is one of the biggest issues of our time,” he says. “The ROM’s research into early life on the planet and climate change can suggest ways in which we might deal with our present climate emergency.”

You have to support the things you believe in, according to Doug. For this reason, he has committed his resources to creating The Gibson Family Endowment Fund, which supports education and research in palaeontology. He also named the fund as a beneficiary of his estate, further ensuring this vital work will continue long after he retires from volunteering.

The best part, he adds, is that anyone can contribute to the fund. “My relatives all know about my obsession with the ROM and I’m encouraging them to support it too.”

Through his generosity, Doug will forever enable the ROM’s mission to inform and inspire people to learn from the past, understand the present and build a brighter future. To learn more about leaving a legacy at the ROM, please contact Janice Correa at