Opening of ROM and a pulse on the waterfront

Last night I showed up late to the opening of the ROM crystal — somewhere around 1:30am. I was amazed to see so many people still milling about, waiting in line, and generally just looking on in amazement at the new building. Robert Ouellette at Reading Toronto has a brief write-up and some pics of the evening’s events (he’s a little disappointed with the spectacle, but not the building).

Before heading up to the ROM, I also checked out Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s Pulse Front at Harbourfront with Spacing photographer Bouke Salverda. I had seen it on Friday night as I whipped past the installation on the Gardiner, but seeing it up close and interacting with the piece (not to mention watching it grow bigger as I walked eastwardly from the Princes’ Gates of the CNE) was a rather fun experience. It was interesting to see the placement and range of the spotlights seemed purposeful enough that the spotlights didn’t shine directly into the condos just north of Harbourfront. Pulse Front stopped precisely at 1am and directed all its spotlight straight up into the sky. If you’re nearby around this time, its worth seeing how the ramdomized lights suddenly revert to a choreographed finish. It lasted for 30 seconds and reminded me of the World Trade Center memorial from a few years ago (only in appearance).

Again, it was great to see so many people out on the town, especially on the waterfront. Eventually, the waterfront can become a destination unto itself, but for now great programming like Pulse Front is a way to get people down there at all times of the day.
photo by Bouke Salverda


  1. The Rom Crystal looks absolutely amazing and it was awesome to see so many people walking around Toronto. Toronto felt like New York or London on a Saturday night with really cool things happening in different parts of the city.

    But whoever was responsible for the ROM street event did a terrible job. The party was supposed to be for citizens, so putting up bleachers on Bloor for a select few, was a ridiculous idea. People behind the bleachers couldn’t see a thing and had no room to walk.

    As for the event itself, the line up of performers was mediocre (where were the big Canadian stars?), the Mayor of Toronto was absent, and the event ended way too early. I missed the beginning, but did Bill Thorsell and Michael Lee Chin even speak???

    Also, why wasn’t there a “big bang” party on the street with street activities like dancing, music, and art exhibits that tie into the theme of the museum and the art inside? After the show ended, people just left.

    Also, the ROM missed an opportunity to capture the contact information of the thousands of people who were on the street. They should have thought of a clever, fun way to get email addresses so that they could stay in touch with people about what’s going on at the ROM. What a lost opportunity for audience development!!

    This wasn’t a “big bang” party, it felt more like a whimper.

  2. Oh and one more thing – when I was looking on the ROM website yesterday to see what was planned for the evening, I could barely find any information about the street party.

    Finally I found a hyperlink to a PDF document which I had to scroll through to find the info on the street event.

    You’d think that they would have wanted to highlight this once-in-a-lifetime opening a little more prominently. I spent 5 minutes trying to find the info on the ROM website!

  3. Not that I was there, but my prescription for the crystal opening would have been an all-night party. This is one area where the ROM could learn from the AGO.

    Otherwise the pictures look fabulous and I can’t wait to see it in person.

  4. On Saturday afternoon, when I was walking by, the line went all the way to the south end of Philosopher’s Walk. I’m glad I decided to wait until they actually put some exhibits in the new addition.

  5. There was one exhibit installed on the fourth floor, notable for the number of people asked to put away their cameras (this was not well-signed and I suspect most vistors were paying attention to the architecture and not the exhibit itself).

    One thing I noticed – everyone loved sneaking into the narrow window strips. If these aren’t blocked off my exhibits, they’re going to be great fun for kids of all ages.

  6. I am a little concerned about the light pollution from Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s installation. How does it affect wildlife?

    I wish I could see the piece (I am out of town) to get a better sense of what it is.

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