Monday, November 3, 2008

Kids at the ROM

On Sunday Isaac and I took the kids to the ROM. We got on the Dundas streetcar near our place, but it was a long slow trip because another streetcar had mechanical problems and the streetcars on Dundas ended up being backed up behind it until someone could come and fix it. But eventually that happened and we transferred to the subway for two stops to the Museum. Isaac and I realized that we had both forgotten cameras, so there will be no pictures for this posting.

There are a couple of special exhibits right now, one on diamonds and one called The Unbuilt Toronto, urban design projects that never happened. We were told at the admission desk that we should go to the diamond exhibit first.

Lately Tristan is especially interested in dressup accessories so he actually was interested in seeing the diamond exhibit. And on the streetcar he found a little glass "diamond" so he especially wanted to take it to the exhibit and see if the one he found was real. However the exhibit was just new and thus very crowded, and it wasn't really geared for kids. I think Tristan got a lot out of it but Phelan got bored pretty quick. So Isaac took Phelan on to the dinosaur exhibit while Tristan and I continued to look at the diamonds.

They had one of the largest diamonds in the world on display, it was over two inches long. But Tristan accidentally dropped his own diamond down a grate in the floor. He was quite upset about losing it and I tried to assure him that it was not a big loss since it was probably fake, but that did not go over too well. He wanted to believe it was real and that he had just lost a real diamond down the floor grate. I was not about to ask for it to be fished out though. After some coaxing we proceeded to look at an exhibit of how diamonds are mined and then I suggested we move on to the dinosaurs.

The dinosaur exhibit is housed in two rooms, we had a bit of searching to do to find Isaac and Phelan. The dinosaur exhibit is much more geared to kids so Tristan was a bit distracted by various hands-on displays and film loops. But we found Isaac and Phelan, and Phelan was clearly enjoying the whole thing immensely. He had told us earlier that he only wanted to see small dinosaurs because he was afraid of big dinosaurs, but he seemed to have gotten over that fear very quickly. He did get to see a couple of miniature dinosaurs though. I chatted for a few minutes with a volunteer lady there about the Museum, and then she revealed that she had a real fossil dinosaur toe to show. I grabbed Tristan and told him he could hold a real dinosaur toe if he wanted and of course he did.

Phelan just wanted to run everywhere. They had a room with a big sandbox full of buried bones, the kids put on goggles and take up brushes to sweep the sand off the "fossil" bones. The sandbox is big enough for many kids to get in at once, and there are rows of chairs around the edge for parents to watch. This kept Phelan busy for quite a while.

I pointed out to Tristan how all the fossil exhibits were colour-coded for real and fake fossil bones; each dinosaur skeleton is built from a mix of real fossils and casts of fossil bones. So we went through the entire exhibit identifying which were real and which were fake. I guess he had fakeness on his mind after losing his fake diamond.

There was still some time left after both boys were satisfied with the dinosaurs, so we offered them a choice, go see the Egyptian mummies or go see the medieval suits of armour and swords. They opted for the mummies, so off we went to the Egyptian exhibit. There are only two mummies on display (there may be more but they are encased in elaborate carved and painted coffin boxes), the rest of the artifacts were of lesser interest to the boys so we still had time to see the armour and swords.

When the boys were still busy with the dinosaurs I went off by myself to see the Unbuilt Toronto exhibit. It was actually just a preview of an exhibit that starts in a few days, consisting of posters describing various projects over the last 150 years or so. Some looked like things that Toronto could easily do without, such as the original Eaton project which entailed tearing down the old Toronto City Hall and an old church. I remember when that happened, and there was such an uproar about losing the old City Hall that the project was seriously scaled back, and the church was saved as well.

But another more recent project, last year, was much more sensible and unfortunately it got canned because the Developers who wanted big highrises got their way. The Ontario Municipal Board is supposed to be a court of last resort for citizens and residents to bring their concerns about ambitious urban projects to the decision makers, but instead it is mostly used by developers to override community protests or concerns. The OMB was responsible for canning the more sensible project, even though the Mayor and all of Toronto City Council were in favour of it, not to mention the local community.

There was an interesting project called Velo City which was an ambitious project of elevated bicycle ways following major commuter routes, that would have allowed cyclists to commute very fast from the suburbs to downtown and back, without having to deal with other vehicular traffic at all.

We all had a great time in spite of lost diamonds and stalled streetcars, and returned home happily exhausted.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful day of adventure! If you get back to Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry is a winner.

This has been a wonderful read! What's next? As was said in Lord of the Rings, "The greatest adventure is what lies ahead!"