ROM seeks to establish new geology curatorship and gallery


By Elle Crosby

Little boy holding a rock
Courtesy of Ryan Walker

Recognizing the importance of geology from an educational and industry perspective, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is actively seeking support for an endowed curatorship of geology in its Earth Sciences section.

The ROM’s goal is to secure funds to support a new and internationally renowned expert to curate the Museum’s petrology (rock) collection, lead research and to develop a new geology gallery for students and the public to better understand how the Earth was formed and how geology and minerology affect our everyday lives.

“We’d like someone with an economic geology background. We want to show how deposits form and how that relates to Earth’s processes, including resources extraction,” said Ian Nicklin, Mineralogy & Geology Technician at the ROM.

The ROM currently has the Teck Suite of Galleries: Earth’s Treasures, with the Vale Gallery of Minerals as well as the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame and Barrick Gold Corporation Gallery, the latter of which discusses the social and environmental responsibilities surrounding modern mining. But the ROM no longer has a geology gallery.

Visitors in the ROM Earth Sciences galleries
Courtesy of the Royal Ontario Museum

“We have minerals and gems and a strong meteorite collection and the story of early life, then move into dinosaurs. We cover most of the history of the Earth, but the critical piece that’s missing is the story of the creation of Earth itself,” explained Kathryn De Carlo, Associate Director of Philanthropy at the ROM.

The entire Earth Sciences section has only four staff, the lowest in the ROM’s 104-year history.

“We need more people to help us bring out the potential. It’s crucial for a number of reasons. It will help us develop the incredible learning potential of the galleries, to conduct more ground-breaking research, to help us better interact with the mining community,” said Nicklin.

Many ROM curators are cross-appointed at the University of Toronto and contribute to research in their fields. “ROM earth scientists over the past century have described dozens of mineral species,” said Nicklin.

This tie to academia extends beyond the curators. Undergraduate and graduate students as well as professors at universities around the world make use of the ROM’s research facilities, materials, publications and experts.

For younger students, the ROM has year-round learning programs including a Summer Club, all of which engage thousands of children, as well as 100,000 school visits a year.

Kids learning about minerals at the ROM
Courtesy of Jessie Milns

“It’s great to see the kids here because you never know who’s going to be the next scientist or historian or artist because of a visit to the ROM. We have a remarkable meteorite collection here and that’s largely due to a donor who came here as a student in grade 8 and touched his first meteorite,” explained Nicklin.

The ROM is Canada’s largest and most comprehensive museum as well as one of its largest cross-curricular educational institutions. “It’s meant to inspire life-long learning for diverse audiences,” said De Carlo.

With the help of a new curator and geology gallery, the ROM hopes to inspire more students to pursue exploration-related fields. “Our geology collections are very good and they have a lot of potential, we just need the support to unlock that,” said Nicklin. For more information or to make a donation, please contact Kathryn De Carlo at 416.586.5745 or