Disclaimer: I work at the Royal Ontario Museum, and do not have to pay the fee to see the exhibition (but I’m also a ROM Member). I was not involved in any way with the development of the exhibition, however.
In the week leading up to the opening of Pompeii: In the Shadow of the Volcano at the Royal Ontario Museum there was an animation of the smoking peak of Vesuvius on the outside of the building. It got a little worse as the days went on – this was taken on Thursday night:
Then on Friday evening, there was this explosive display:
It was pretty spectacular! But does the exhibition itself live up to this excitement?
Much of it is fairly understated story of what life was like in Pompeii, to establish context. Although I’d seen a lot in UK/Euro museums about Roman life, the items on display are all very specific to Pompeii & daily life there, which piqued my interest. On top of that, there was a lot of great information about the geology of the area & how the eruption played out.
Displays on what everyday people wore, as well as nobles and the military started off the exhibition. There’s a great spot to see if you can tie a toga on and have it look as badass as the ones in the marble statues.
Information dipped into theatre, religion and sex too. Pompeii had quite a thriving drama scene, it seems – two major stadiums! I had no idea. (The first image below is that of two statues of actors). And then I was also enlightened to the fact that phalluses were a sign of good luck in ancient Pompeii/Rome, which explains this super fancy windchime.
That last image is of an earthquake scene Pompeii had survived prior to the massive eruption – what a volatile area of the Mediterranean to live in. But it seems like overall, it was a beautiful area to live, right on the water with a gorgeous mountain right there and thriving marketplaces. I was most taken by the carbonized food remains found at Pompeii – as much as anything, an amazing snapshot of people’s tastes and diets. (Just don’t read too much into how they made fish sauce…) Bread, figs and olives, oh my!
So – society, military, religion, fine foods.. what left but art? Gorgeous and usually functional pieces, friezes & mosaics pepper the exhibition. The glass at the end was found, likely having been trapped in an enclosed space set on fire by the eruption.
Of course, everyone knows that the story of Pompeii won’t have a happy ending. Moving through the exhibiton, near the end you will find yourself in a darkish space – a statue slightly in the distance, doomy gloomy lighting and a projection of Vesuvius erupting on the far wall. An infographic off to the side lays out a lot of the geological information, and the timeline that the residents of Pompeii would have experienced – and the time at which it would’ve been too late for them.
After this, there’s a stark space that hosts a number of casts of the victims of the eruption, prone in their poses of death. The focus on their remains and their stories is really well done, with nothing to detract from that. (As opposed to the cast of the dog, pictured below, which is actually at the very start of the exhibition, and a pretty distressing thing to see straight up front.) I won’t show them all, as I think it’s worth going through the exhibition to learn about the lives the people of Pompeii led, and how unfortunate their deaths were.
I think the sombre end to the exhibition is the best way to finish the story of Pompeii, without going on afterward. My overall impression is the flow & design of the space weaves through the displays very well (although some parts are prone to bottleneck). Lighting is great, reproductions of art used for negative spaces & bare walls makes a huge difference in enjoying the exhibition, and breathes some life into it. I especially thought the dramatic “eruption” space with the gloomy/flickering lighting was effective.
Even though most of my visits have been fairly brief, I’ve had a chance to learn some key information and facts, because the text isn’t presented in overwhelming chunks. Short blurbs, quotes, etc draw the viewer in easily, and those more keen on finding out more can read on further – and I think the very focused nature of the exhibition and its story overall can help stave off visitor fatigue. It definitely makes a visit to just one part of a very large museum easier, too.
If you’re in Toronto and want to check out #ROMpeii (best hashtag ever, am I right?) then it’s running until January 3rd 2016. It’s an engaging look at the life and death of Pompeiians, with family interactives and great information. There’s a lot of events going on, too. And if you’d like to read something about the exhibition not by me, head to Justin & Lauren’s blog about it here. (They’ve even been to the real Pompeii!)
Pompeii: In the Shadow of the Volcano runs until January 3rd 2016. Tickets are inclusive of general admission and cost: $28 adults | $25.50 students/seniors | $20 children 4-14 years (toddlers 3 & under are free) | Members FREE.
The ROM is open daily 10am – 5.30pm (and to 6.30pm on Fridays), except December 25th. Check out Best Value Fridays after 4.30pm!
Toronto’s currently hosting Douglas Coupland‘s exhibition, shown already to great response in Vancouver, at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)* and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA). From the exhibition website: Douglas Coupland: everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything includes over 100 works. The exhibition is divided into six themes, four of which are on display at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), and two at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA).
Everything about the work on display at both venues is so wonderfully vibrant, engaging and visually rich! That is something I just can’t get over, and I’m reminded by browsing the photos I took. Coupland’s quirky way of interacting with and understanding the world is really at the forefront of all of the pieces, and there’s quite a bit of variety. Here’s a few general shots (you can see all my #couplandTO exhibition photos here):
Although there’s much more, I think my favourite pieces at the ROM are the couple following. The slogans are so eye-catching and equal parts ridiculous and insightful. “I miss my pre-internet brain” for sure. And the largest installation piece (at a guess) is the Brain. It’s a carefully constructed mass of objects that Coupland’s been collecting over the years. As the concept and action of collecting is fascinating to me, as well as the idea of ephemera and object history, this is delightful!
Over at MOCCA there’s a little more of a Canadiana feel to the pieces on display. What I especially loved was the idea of representation of regional ‘personalities’ with all the cabinets, the idea of suburbia/conformity vs future structures/collaboration, and also the mixing of introduced cultures into Canadian society. And as I absolutely love the Group of 7 art styles, I was really interested in Coupland’s take on that toward the end of the exhibit, especially Harris’ pieces. A truly eclectic gathering of art and objects that all works incredibly well together, and as a companion to the exhibition at the ROM.
I highly recommend checking out both of the exhibitions, because they truly complement each other. The ROM piece runs until April 26th, and the MOCCA piece until April 19th. Enjoy!
* Full disclosure: I work at the ROM but I am in no way associated with the exhibition beyond that, and I would’ve come to see it anyhow because I’m a super nerd.
This past weekend I strolled the galleries with Laura and her husband, Chad, plus our friend Lauren. It was nice to head to some of the galleries I don’t normally get to with friends, but also see the usual excellent dino gallery too. Here’s some photos! (Also yes, shush, I know I work here but it’s nice to stroll about with friends!)
Oh, hello there! It’s Thursday. I used to do this much more often, so it’s time to crack on and get back into it! Let’s start with..
Excellent socks. There’s now a sock-only shop here in Toronto which has awesome stuff. I gave and received many cool socks this holiday season, among them were these:
Next of all, I love museums! Now, shush. I know this is an obvious one, but my firey love has been stoked by my new job at the ROM and getting to visit the collections. I love museum collections so much! There’s a special feeling about them. Plus I get to see cool things:
All the delicious food I get to eat daily, weekly, yearly! Looking back over my Instagram feed is like a delicious feast. I’ve never been happier to be vegan and enthusiastic about cooking, and living in an amazingly vegan-friendly city. It’s why we get to enjoy delicious treats each Saturday when we visit Bunners in Kensington (who I LOVE LOVE LOVE) for a start:
Speaking of food, this soup! OMG. I love it. Southern style black eyed bean and collards, just for new years. Plus it’s hella cold here right now.
I love this new giant scarf I got at American Apparel cheap on Boxing Day. Keeps me so warm.
And then.. this smushface pup. N’aw.
Hello all! welcome to the new year. I haven’t forgotten about blogging just yet. I used to do a more frequent random drop of photos, so here’s a few from fairly recently. More to come!
Back when I was working at 500px, one of our team outings was to a Second City show. It was great, and I was doubly excited to see these photos of Colin Mochrie, who I love, in the random old photos of previous Second City actors.
Back in the summertime, when there were outside hangouts for games. Jake hangs with us.
Many of you will know that I’ve recently started working at the Royal Ontario Museum, which is pretty great! I am there in an administrative/executive assistant capacity and it’s amazing to get to go to work in such a fantastic institution every day. And I really love the building.
I’ve been getting to see a lot of the collection spaces too! That’s especially great, because it’s where my interest in museums really lies.
Also I know I shared this already on social media, but it’s me getting to hold some Mars rock and Moon rock and some of the oldest Canadian rock so whatever!
More wandering photos..
And here’s me looking goofy with Jake.
The first time I visited Toronto back in 2004, I made sure to get to the Royal Ontario Museum. At the time I was working at the Queensland Museum in Brisbane, and it was a natural stop for me to check out a similar museum here. They were already under some renovations at that point, but there was still a lot of really cool stuff to see.
I was excited to see what they’d done with the museum when I visited again in 2007. The renovations recently completed overall, and the new building facade revealed, the museum was fantastic to see as a whole! Now I live here, I’ve become a member, and I’m enjoying supporting the ROM & the benefits I get as a member. Here’s my favourite things about the ROM, as my little celebration of their 100 year birthday today. (Helpfully on museum blogs day!)
The Building. Yes, even the crystal. I think it looks amazing. It has a striking presence. It stands out as a museum of its size should. Plus, I can spot it from my balcony. I imagine the windows must pose a conservation nightmare as far as UV goes, but the gorgeous natural light it provides (especially in the dino & mammals gallery) is awesome. The way the old and new facades have been integrated fascinates me (not just from the outside, but you can see it as you wander inside if you look out for it!). Plus, I love the Stairs of Wonder, which feed off the design so well.
How super involved and developed the ROM’s presence on social media is! The team works hard to share awesome content and interact with their audience and industry partners, and it shows. They have folks ranging from curators to people running programs tweeting, and commenting on/sharing their audience’s content too! Follow them on Twitter.
The simply gorgeous mineral gallery. From a purely nerdy display perspective, this gallery is done so well! From a casual geology lover, it’s a specimen dream. Plus lots of awesome info and spots to just sit and marvel.
The range of stuff you can see! Honestly. There are vast swathes of the museum I rarely visit (mostly the European historic, Roman, Greek & Egyptian sections, because I’m exhausted on that stuff after living in London/visiting Berlin’s amazing museums). But there is always something to see, even if you only have half an hour. Dinosaurs, Indian sculpture & art, a bat cave, textiles & costuming.. honestly, there is cool stuff everywhere. Why, they even have a little Australian stuff on display.
They develop and host terrific temporary exhibitions! I’ve seen a terrific bunch of stuff in the past year – Mesopotamia, the Forbidden City, Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards.
Events! There’s so many, but what I’ve really enjoyed the last little while have been the Friday Night Live events – everyone loves going to the museum after dark. They get some fantastic and interesting groups, performances and whatnot in for these nights – like that time I got to 3D print a little Mesopotamian building!
So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Royal Ontario Museum! I hope to enjoy at least some of the next 100 more.
The Royal Ontario Museum is following a recent trend of evening events hosted in museums (see the Queensland Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario & the Science Museum in London, among just a few!) – theirs is “ROM Friday Night Live“, and they’ve held a few series so far. I’ve attended a couple (I wish I could go every Friday, but it’s tough to make it work) and last Friday Adam and I went to the “Let’s Dance” themed evening. Each night is themed, and they usually do a pretty decent job at tying it all together with the galleries & special events – and it’s just fun being in the museum in the evening with all sorts of interesting stuff going on. Friday night saw Opera Atelier singers and ballet dancers, and later on some beatboxing and breakdancing down in the main hall while sneaker decorating was going on. A jazz quartet played in the geology gallery, there was a map of Toronto where you could pin your location, and upstairs Makelab were doing something thematically related to the special Mesopotamia exhibition currently showing. As soon as I saw “3D printing” mentioned in the program, we made a beeline for it and signed up for the first session.
After wandering the mammal gallery a little, sipping our adult beverages and giving the Scopify app a whirl (at first glance I found it pretty neat, but I would like to see the full scope – if you will), we made our way back to Makelab’s setup and started poking about on the iPads they handed us. Starting with a base, you could add any of the pre-fab structures they had in a gallery – arches, walls, stairs, ziggurats, columns – stuff of all sorts that would be home in Mesopotamia. I found it a little fiddly to maneuver the structure, but the helpers standing by were useful with tips on how to navigate and best move/resize/place stuff.
Once everyone in the session had finished their designs, they were saved to the cloud and someone was standing by to send them out to the half-dozen or so printers waiting. Each one was a marvelous little machine with a spool of basic white polymer (I guess? I didn’t find out exactly) that would feed into the machine, and be spit out into a wonderful little shape. The printer mine was sent to had some hitches, but Adam’s printed perfectly first time.
Here’s me with my finally printed little structure (and the monstrosity that happened the first try around when the printer was misbheaving – just like regular ink printers!):
My model, and mine and Adam’s on the city grid below that (the two frontmost).
Makelab are at the Friday Night Live ROM events until the end of the season – I’m going back on December 6th and I can’t wait to see the final grid of what people have made. It was a fantastic experience to get to see how 3D printing works, and it was fun to take part in that with the folks from Makelab who are super into it all. They’re also doing their printing stuff out in bars periodically, which is super awesome as well – I encourage you to attend if you’re in Toronto. Or just come along to a ROM Friday Night Live event before the end of their current season!