Magazine article ROM Magazine

A Letter from Our Director and CEO: Conjuring an Ancient World

Magazine article ROM Magazine

A Letter from Our Director and CEO: Conjuring an Ancient World

Article excerpt

A major exhibition such as Maya: Secrets of their Ancient World is the museum world's equivalent of a Hollywood blockbuster. These exhibitions take several years to develop, from the initial conception to opening day, and a large number of people are involved. As in a film, many of the roles are invisible once the project is finished, and the visiting public never sees what has been involved in putting the metaphorical ship into the bottle.

As this magazine goes to press, the ROM's project team is putting the finishing touches to Maya, so let me tell you a little of what has been going on behind the scenes. When I arrived at the ROM just over a year ago the Maya project was already well under way; the strong partnerships that have made this possible--both in Mexico with the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) and here in Canada with the Canadian Museum of Civilization (CMC)--had been forged. Our exhibition curator, Justin Jennings, mapped out a potential script and a theme that would communicate key points about Maya culture, and then worked with INAH to select objects for the show that would best tell the story.

An exhibition of this magnitude has many elements: design, conception of the visitor's experience, accessibility, narrative, and practical aspects such as visitor flow. Before any of this was planned, around a year ago, we conducted research with our visitors so that we are able to pitch our content at the right level. Interestingly, many had heard of the Maya but knew very little beyond the name. …

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