Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Where Are The Dinosaurs?

I had a call last night from the Royal Ontario Museum selling memberships.

I loved the ROM as a kid. I was part of their "Saturday Morning Club" summer camp, and spent many happy hours looking at the rocks, bones and swords.

But I haven't been back since they crazy glued the crystal monstrosity to the side of it. Maybe it's because the ticket price for me, my wife and 5 year old is now $54 (or $25 Friday nights, or free for a quick run around after 8 pm if you don't mind feeling like a moocher).

Unfortunately, the ROM has gone out of the museum business and is now a "venue". It's for holding your socialite cocktail reception or corporate kick-off, not for marvelling at the wonders of the earth.

Critics have said the crystalline entity that is sucking the life out of the beautiful old Edwardian building also makes it difficult to display the extensive and wonderful collections gathering dust on shelves in the back rooms. The light is wonky, the walls are wonky, and the current management really wants you to look at the aluminum and glass architecture and not so much at the artifacts. I don't think there is a single photo of the front door of the old building on the website anymore. Everything looks like a set from "Space 1999".

Here's a list from their website about that they've closed:

"During our period of growth the following areas of interest will be closed:

Dinosaurs/Vertebrate Palaeontology
Earth Sciences Gem and Gold Room
Insects and Their Relatives
Roman World
South Asia"

So no rocks, dinosaurs, mammals, insects, Canada...

On the bright side, until November you can see "Over 250 miniature worlds of brilliant colour and style are featured in this exhibition of spectacular 19th- and 20th-century glass paperweights". That's worth my $54.

And the cafeteria now serves "earth friendly" food, whatever that is.

For me, the killer is they haven't had a dinosaur display for the past 2 years. What's a museum without dinosaurs? Just a bunch of Japanese plates and native clay pots. They promise they'll be back this winter. Maybe I will be too.

Maybe, unless I feel a real need for paperweights in the meantime.