In June 2007, when Adam and I drove out west, we missed the opening of "The Crystal" at the Royal Ontario Museum where I work. The Crystal, and the associated renovation of some of the galleries and collection spaces ("Renaissance ROM"), have been going on for at least five years and have consumed a great deal of attention and energy on the part of especially some of my colleagues who have been involved in particular aspects, like new galleries. The architecture of the Crystal has been controversial for a number of reasons, but I hope you will be able to draw your own conclusions. Best of all would be if you could come to Toronto and see it for yourself. Several "nexts" after that may be to look at the pictures I took the other day for use on this page.

Since the same architect that did the Crystal did a similar design for the Denver Art Museum, I've included pictures from my second field trip last year as well: in August I flew out to Denver, rented a car, made a circuit of the state, and then took some time to visit with two of my late cousin's children, my cousins Anita and Michele. Once again, the purpose of this trip, like that of the earlier trip, was to collect specimens of hawthorns. On this second trip, however, I wanted to collect fruiting specimens from trees that my students and I up until now only knew from flowering material (with hawthorns being able to collect both flowering and fruiting material - from the same individuals - is very important).

The pictures below are thumbnails, so you can click on them to see a larger version. Then use your browser's "back" button to return here for more.

Outside Florence CO.

Southwest of Telluride CO.

Crataegus rivularis Crataegus rivularis Crataegus cf. erythropoda
I drove I-25 south from Denver, and then turned off to spend my first night in Florence CO. This was the view from my window the next morning. From Florence I drove US50 west up into the mountains and across to the basin of the Gunnison River where I made my first collections. I continued on to Montrose to spend the night, and then drove past Telluride and this scene the next day. On CO145 outside Dolores I found my first Colorado Crataegus rivularis. Heading back east on US160 I came to a site where I've collected C. rivularis before, where there's also a historical marker honoring the Dominguez-Escalante Expedition of 1776. At the same site there are trees of a red-fruited hawthorn as well as those of black-fruited C. rivularis.
Crataegus cf. erythropoda Denver Art Museum Denver Art Museum Denver Art Museum My cousin Anita and me.
Similarly, in and around Chama NM there's both C. rivularis, and this, which I think is C. erythropoda. After collecting around Chama I headed back toward Denver, retracing part of my route on US50, and overnighting again in Florence. In Denver, my cousin Anita and her partner Bill took me to see (the outside of) the also crystalline Denver Art Museum. The same architect did both this museum, and the one where I work (see below). In Denver they seem to be having problems with leaks. My cousin and me, taken by Bill. They put me up, and then the next morning early I drove to Boulder to do some last collecting there.
Crataegus sect. Coccineae After finishing in Boulder, I went back to Denver to visit with my other cousin, Michele, and her family. Like an idiot, however, I never took out my camera while I was there. They have a small vegetable garden in their back yard, and I was impressed by how much their daughter Lizzie could tell me about the plants in it. And then, back to Toronto. Royal Ontario Museum Royal Ontario Museum Royal Ontario Museum
This (in Boulder) is why they're called hawthorns. The fruits are called haws. This is the museum in Toronto where I work: the Royal Ontario Museum. These three pictures show the north side of the building, onto which the Crystal has been built. We get a fair amount of snow in the winter, and so we have to deal with problems of icicles forming above the sidewalk.
ROM Asian Gallery (1) ROM Asian Gallery (2) ROM Stairway (1) ROM Stairway (2) From the Crystal
The Crystal is actually the second recent addition to the "old" yellow brick building. Here is the SW corner of the Museum, with the old wing on the right and the 20+ y old Curatorial Center on the left (looking south). Stepping into the "old" wing on the SW corner and facing north, here is the East Asian Gallery that re-opened in this space about 2 y ago now. Here the emphasis has been on letting in as much natural light as possible, given what's on display. Heading into the Crystal, one can go up a "Stairway of Wonders" and see vignettes of different collections... these alizarin skeletons of different vertebrates. From the upper floors of the Crystal you can look back at the "old" building; seen in this way, the new entrance from Bloor Street is behind you.
New ROM dinosaur gallery Although the Crystal itself was opened last June, the first gallery only opened last month: dinosaurs and Pleistocene mammals. Here are two views of the newly mounted Barosaurus, a giant sauropod. A Stegosaurus and an Albertosaurus (?) can also be seen. New ROM dinosaur gallery
New ROM mammal gallery New ROM mammal gallery The sightlines are so long that some views (neither of these) may encompass 70 million years or more, from giant ice-age mammals to dinosaurs. Nevertheless, i like how they've mounted these marine animals. New ROM dinosaur gallery New ROM dinosaur gallery
ROM Crystal - ICC space View from ROM Crystal - ICC space   ROM C4 ROM C4
At the top of the Crystal are two galleries, only one of which is already open. This is the exhibition space for the Institute of Contemporary Culture. Looking out from this gallery you can see how a fairly heavy scrim is used to reduce incoming sunlight so that artifacts on display aren't damaged. Even so, when the textiles gallery next door is opened, the displays will have to be rotated regularly to avoid harming the fabrics.   There are views out over the roof... ...from the area onto which the elevators open.
ROM Green Plant Herbarium

An early consequence of all this construction was that the entire building had to be brought up to code. This meant finding above-ground storage for vast numbers of alcohol-preserved vertebrates. This in turn meant that space below-ground became available for the Museum's green plant collections.

ROM Green Plant Herbarium ROM Green Plant Herbarium ROM west elevation
This is the ROM's Green Plant Herbarium, that houses upwards of half a million specimens of non-vascular and vascular green plants. This has given us what is now by far the best space the collection has ever had, and certainly the best in which my colleagues and I have been able to work. Herbarium cabinets full of specimens are mounted on rails so that only two ranks of cabinets can be accessed at one time. This gives us the most storage possible for the floor area that is available. Back outside, this is the west side of the "old" building, showing how the Crystal extends over it from the north.


text and images on this site copyright © 2007 M. Shaik, T. A. Dickinson, A. K. Dickinson, and (or) J. S. Dickinson
posted by tim dot dickinson at utoronto dot ca on 31-Dec-2007