Photography by Deborah Baic • Video production by Patrick Dell
The last time a big whale parked itself at the Royal Ontario Museum, thousands crowded in to see it, pushing annual attendance over 1.4 million. This Saturday, another exhibit devoted to three great whales will open to carefully distanced members of the public who will be the museum’s first visitors of 2021.
After a painful closure lasting eight months, the ROM is reopening with a show titled “Great Whales: Up Close and Personal.” It’s a sequel to the successful 2017 exhibition “Out of the Depths: The Blue Whale Story,” which featured one of the largest blue whale skeletons in the world. That skeleton, retrieved from a pod that got caught in sea ice in 2014, will make a repeat appearance in the new show, as the ROM unveils more research on whale carcasses found on the Atlantic coast. This exhibition features three skeletons cleaned by the ROM: the blue whale, a sperm whale and a North Atlantic right whale, an endangered species that comes under threat from shipping when it follows its prey into the St. Lawrence. This specimen was an adult male that had sired several offspring and survived entanglements in fishing lines before it was hit by a ship in 2017.
With timed tickets, and foot-activated pads replacing buttons on interactive displays, the ROM is hoping the exhibition about behaviour, evolution and conservation will convince visitors that whales must be saved – and that museum spaces are safe.
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