The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) has announced that the closed Queens Park entrance—disused since the opening of the Daniel Libeskind-designed Michael Lee-Chin Crystal on Bloor Street—will be revitalized and refurbished by fall 2017 as part of their Welcome Project. While details of the project itself are scarce so far, it is clear that the ROM, under new Director and CEO Josh Basseches, is looking to revitalize itself and the way it engages with it surroundings. As a closed-off museum where one can only enter several metres before having to pay, it is a museum for the few. However, under the direction of Basseches, the museum hopes to become more of a civic hub that is integrated with the surroundings socially and physically, so that it acts as an attraction to engage with, rather than to simply look at. 

Weston Entrance, Royal Ontario Museum, Hariri Pontarini Architects, TorontoWeston Entrance image by Hariri Pontarini Architects

The entrance project designed by Hariri Pontarini Architects—jointly funded by the Government of Ontario and The W. Garfield Weston Foundation—will involve all aspects of the Queens Park entrance, from the landscaping and streetscape to the stairs and ramps, even down to the detail of the doors. A new refurbished and expanded staircase, accessibility ramp, and street furniture are to be the catalyst for civic activity and create a new gathering space. The old doorway is set to become a second main entrance for the museum, complimenting the Bloor door, and providing a different type of space to making the museum more accessible for those coming from the South and Museum Station.

Renderings show a lot of activity situated on and around the staircase. This is intended as a sort of buffer space before entering the grand rotunda and museum, a space between the outside and inside for people to gather before and after experiencing the museum. The grand rotunda and new lobby space is also to be refurbished by Hariri Pontarini Architects. 

Weston Entrance, Royal Ontario Museum, Hariri Pontarini Architects, TorontoWeston Entrance image by Hariri Pontarini Architects (watercolour rendering by Michael McCann Associates Ltd.)

For those who have been to the ROM, they may be wondering how a second entrance can open into the museum as the rotunda is within the paid area. This is to change, as the ROM has planned efforts to increase permeability —the goal is to eventually open up as much of the first floor to the general public as possible, and the rotunda will become part of a larger public area in which visitors will be able to access more of the museum's first floor without paying. Historically, the entrance was in use at varying degrees, and this project marks a new chapter in the ROM's history in Toronto.

Western Entrance, Royal Ontario Museum, TorontoEarly 20th Century Western Entrance image by Royal Ontario Museum

This is set to become a major project in the coming months as more details emerge, specifically about the interior details and the ROM's new approach for public space. We will keep you updated with all details and stories that develop. In the meantime, you can engage in discussions in the Forum thread linked below, and in the comment section at the bottom of this page.