ROM: Biodiversity Gallery
Showcasing the ROM’s spectacular natural history collections, the gallery focuses on the diversity of life, the interconnectedness of species and habitats and the global crisis of mass extinction due to modern humans.
- Royal Ontario Museum
- Life in Crisis: Schad Gallery of Biodiversity
- 10,000 sq. ft.
- Exhibit Design, Graphic Design
- Toronto, ON, CA
- Year Completed
Located in the very centre of the museum’s historic wing, the gallery uses the museum’s massive biodiversity collections and research expertise to convey a powerful statement about life on earth and the current biodiversity crisis. R&P was asked to develop a gallery showcasing the incredible variety, beauty and interconnectedness of life, while at the same communicating the globally pervasive threats to ecosystems as a result of human activity. The Earth Ranger’s Studio, located at the heart of the gallery was to be included as a venue for ROM programming. The Studio is used to broadcast science news, ROM-related content and as a setting for live animal shows. The gallery includes live animal programs, a leaf cutter ant installation and a spectacular marine saltwater aquarium.
- Visitors will walk away with a feeling of respect for our planet and a renewed sense of purpose to protect its biodiversity.Dr. Douglas C. Currie, Curator of Entomology, ROM
The R&P design theme is shaped by the bold geometry of the ROM’s renaissance architectural renovation. The dynamic construction of the gallery perfectly reflects the turbulent nature of the content. Large prismatic displays, cases, platforms and graphics showcase the magnificent collections, expressing a sense of a world in the midst of dynamic change. The displays integrate over 2,500 specimens, telling the story of the diversity of life on earth and the threats that human activity places on species and habitats. The use of sustainable, recycled materials and the use of LEDs support the conservation message of the gallery.
The Biodiversity Zone is a highlight, forming the central spine and running the full length of the gallery. Focusing on species that are endangered, at risk or extinct, it is a stunning suite of showcases that present the vast ROM collections to their best advantage. Near the beginning is “Bull”, the Gallery’s great Southern White Rhino, an endangered species. The Rhino is prominently displayed at top of the heritage staircase, welcoming visitors near the gallery entrance.
The gallery perimeter features Ecosystem Experiences, large displays that encapsulate an expansive range of species in diverse ecosystems. These settings show exquisite life science models /artworks together with beautifully composed collections of specimens, all illustrating the pervasive crises facing ecosystems worldwide. As visitors encounter the diverse interconnectedness of species, they can investigate the many threats and consider possible solutions.
The Earth Ranger’s Studio is a flexible program space that is in constant use. The Studio is bounded by the Biodiversity Spine, ensuring that visitors in the Studio feel connected to the gallery during programs and events.
Finally, a stunning saltwater aquarium is a visual highlight with a vast array of colourful fish and corals.
The Gallery is a vibrant success, brimming with life and full of visitors. ROM senior leadership often cites the Biodiversity gallery as an example, of the perfect balance between collections, design, clear messaging and active visitor engagement. Timeless design, powerful graphics with extensive animal iconography and the bold geometries of cases and displays have created a destination experience for the ROM. Specimens and models on open display hover overhead throughout the gallery. The charm of the design and the fresh approach to the collections invite visitors to pause and reflect on the sobering message of a world in crisis.
- It is a gallery with an argument to make: The question that is posed… Are we in the sixth great extinction?The Globe and Mail