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Historic Weston Entrance reopens at Royal Ontario Museum


December 12, 2017
by Canadian Architect

Southeast of Daniel Libeskind’s Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, the Royal Ontario Museum‘s much older face is once again open to the public. Located on Queen’s Park, the Weston Entrance provides visitors with an additional entrance way into the downtown Toronto Museum, while reconnecting the city’s landmark cultural institution to one of Canada’s most prominent addresses.

The Weston Entrance. Photo via Royal Ontario Museum.

The Weston Entrance. Photo via Royal Ontario Museum.

The revitalization of the Museum’s landmark Queen’s Park façade is designed by renowned Toronto-based firm Hariri Pontarini Architects. With this project, the Weston Entrance becomes one of two public entry points to the Museum to complement the Bloor St. Michael Lee-Chin Crystal Entrance on the building’s north side. As part of the renovations, the Queen’s Park stairway has been widened and extended, leading up to contemporary glass doors that offer clear views into the Museum’s historic Rotunda and through the Samuel Hall Currelly Gallery. Further refurbishments to the entrance include heated limestone steps and a new accessibility ramp to provide even greater access for those using wheelchairs or strollers.

The Hilary and Galen Weston Wing and The Weston Family Wing are illuminated by new architectural lighting at night to enhance the ROM’s historic façade. New landscaping, that includes an outdoor seating area, new paving, trees and hedges, provides more green space on the grounds facing Queen’s Park and draws visitors to the redesigned entrance. These new features have been designed to create a welcoming and accessible entrance that complements the architectural heritage and design of the building. 

The reopening of the Weston doors and the restoration of the Queen’s Park façade is an important component of the ROM’s Welcome Project, providing greater access to the Museum and enhancing the ROM’s role as a vital civic hub for the City and its visitors. This revitalization project was made possible by The W. Garfield Weston Foundation and the Government of Ontario.

“This project opens up the ROM — both literally and symbolically — to our community, offering visitors better access to their Museum and builds on our commitment to create an exceptional visitor experience,” says Josh Basseches, ROM Director and CEO. “With more than 1.35 million visitors coming through the Museum’s doors last year, the opening of the Weston Entrance provides another way for us to welcome visitors from communities in Toronto, Canada and around the world, while simultaneously creating a welcoming gathering space that enhances our urban landscapes. We are very grateful to The W. Garfield Weston Foundation and the Government of Ontario for making this restoration work possible.”

Weston Entrance, Royal Ontario Museum, Hariri Pontarini.

A rendering of the Queen’s Park restoration. Image via Hariri Pontarini Architects.

 “The revitalization of the ROM heritage entrance will create an accessible and welcoming gathering spot for museum-goers.  Our government’s new investment in the ROM will better integrate this cultural gem with the community and offer new discoveries that will bring people closer to the rich history of this province and our shared heritage with Indigenous peoples,” says Eleanor McMahon, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport.

This phase of The Welcome Project has been made possible through the generosity of many donors, with special thanks to the Ivey Foundation and ROM Department of Museum Volunteers.

The Welcome Project will encompass a number of other initiatives that will enhance the ROM’s presence on the Bloor Street corridor.  These include the Helga and Mike Schmidt Performance Terrace, the Nita and Don Reed Plaza, and additional landscape design elements that will augment the Museum’s public and green spaces.