Magazine article ROM Magazine

The Museum as the New Agora

Magazine article ROM Magazine

The Museum as the New Agora

Article excerpt

One of the ROM's missions, reiterated at the beginning of every board meeting, is to be "a pleasurable agent of social integration." The goal arises from our mandate as a universal museum of culture. The fact that our collections encompass most parts of the world over thousands of years by definition creates a community of cultures within the walls of the ROM.

It follows, then, that the ROM should be common ground for the diverse communities that now constitute Ontario and Canada--in its programming, research, and acquisitions. This is the Museum as the new agora--an urban place of encounter, debate, and alternate visions, as well as a site of so-called certainties.

To be effective in this role, the Museum must actively reach into various communities for support and participation. ROM Friday Nights--which resumes this fall with music, films, lectures, crafts, and cuisine--draws from a different cultural community or interest every week. Most find resonance in our permanent collections and galleries, and should therefore feel "at home" within the ROM at its very core. ROM Friday Nights (with half price admission) provides windows into the lives of varied peoples within a shared space, delightfully as well as educationally.

Temporary exhibitions do the same, whether historical or modern. Each of these events involves local communities in the production and programming.

More informally, the ROM is emerging as a social destination by virtue of its location within Toronto, and its business model. …

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