Darwin at the ROM
Darwin: The Evolution Revolution (Royal Ontario Museum) — With the new renovation, and the fabulous dinosaurs, the ROM is hot again. And now, with this new exhibit, which was created in collaboration between the ROM and a group of US and UK museums, the place could turn into a total madhouse. In fact, this new installation really compliments the new and very popular Age of Dinosaurs and Age of Mammals exhibits: while they’re quite stark and simple, this very large exhibit tells the story of Charles Darwin, his scientific discoveries and the intricacies of evolution as well. It’s a lot of content, and the exhibit relies on a lot of text to guide visitors through these ideas and to connect the artifacts themselves with the Darwin story. The artifacts themselves are not the focus: there are some sketches Darwin made, some of his letters and one of his hammers. But there’s also a lot of generic stuff such as animal skeletons and stuffed birds. The live green iguana and tortoises fall into this category: you’ve got to really do some reading to see how they’re connected to Darwin, but they help bring the complex concept of evolution to life. It also seems like an attempt on the museum’s part to draw in the younger set, as is the interactive play area where you can, among other things, pretend you’re on the bridge of the HMS Beagle. I think the whole exhibit’s better suited to school-aged kids who can competently fill out the Darwin Activity Guide (a nice booklet full of quiz-style questions) and do some reading. Not that adults are left out at all. The details of Darwin’s personal life, the awesome impact of his five-year journey on the Beagle (he went in his 20s and it gave him enough scientific data to last him almost a lifetime) and all that scientific info is interesting for a personal of any age. Darwin runs until August 4. Admission is included in general admission, which is $20 for adults, $17 for students and seniors and $14 for children. 416-586-8000.