Originally uploaded by lilliputianme
The Royal Ontario Museum's newest addition: the Lee-Chin Crystal on the inside.
The exterior is an interesting blend of new and old in every way - glass and steel paired with brick and mortar. The juxtaposition is, in my opinion, jarring and exciting. It is visually stimulating and I couldn't wait to see how the new and old was blended inside.
I was, and am underwhelmed. I see now why an elimination of the windows originally planned is such a huge loss: the interior feels oddly cramped by the angular nature and is too dark for my liking. The space is strangely utilized, and some space appears to not be used at all, as large darkened portions of the wayfinding map appear often. And the wayfinding? ATROCIOUS. The signage is misleading, or often missing entirely. Navigation from the new to the old sections of the museum are convoluted and simply finding a washroom was like trying to search out the lost ark. Trying to get to the restaurant on the fifth floor we were simply directed to "take Such and Such elevator." That is fine and dandy, but can anyone tell me where Such and Such elevator is? When we finally resorted to taking the stairs, we got halfway up to see that the restaurant was closed. This information would have been extremely handy if it was posted, say, in the lobby!
Whether intentional or not, the finishing left something to be desired. Screws and seams were very visible. It felt as though we had just missed the construction crew picking up their tools for the day. Sure, the industrial look is very 'fresh' and 'hip' but I for one don't find it to be a very effective tool to make a visitor feel at ease. I felt like it was cheap and/or poor workmanship.
The ROM is a museum, and not an art gallery. The Art Gallery of Ontario is expanding their own square footage and seem to have the official art gallery thing down pat. I would expect to find historic things here, not art installations.
The addition of new space at the ROM is extremely exciting, and introducing public lounge space and wide open areas are wonderful. I have been there and done it, and am now content to enjoy the outside.