THE 'CRYSTAL' AGE HAS ARRIVED. REVITALIZATION AND EXPANSION OF THE ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM IN TORONTO (Nadeszla epoka 'Krysztalu' czyli rewitalizacja i rozbudowa Królewskiego Muzeum Ontario w Toronto)
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Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is one of the largest museums of world culture and natural history in North America; with more than six million objects in its collection is the largest in Canada. It has over 40 galleries, including ones dedicated to ancient Egypt, Greece, Cyprus, Nubia, the Middle East, Byzantium and Western Europe. The Canadian gallery features many interesting artifacts, such as totem poles from the west-coast Haida and Nisgaa tribes, or works by Canadian pioneer painter Paul Kane. Highlights of the natural history exhibits include a dinosaur collection, and the numerous stuffed mammals, birds and reptiles in the North America gallery. ROM's collection of artifacts from the far-east – mainly China, Japan and Korea – is its most famous and comprehensive one. ROM was founded in 1912 by the government of Ontario thanks to initiatives of many people, but mainly to Sir Byron Walker and Dr. Charles Curelly. The first museum building, opened in 1914, was designed in neo-Romanesque style by Toronto architects Darling & Pearson. Initially, ROM consisted of five separate museums: archaeology, geology, mineralogy, paleontology and zoology - all sharing one building. In 1933, a second building, parallel to the old one, was added - designed in art-deco style by Chapman & Oxley. In the 1990s, ROM's attendance dropped year by year. When William Thorsell was appointed as the new director and CEO of the museum in 2000, his personal mission was to bring back its glamour and popularity. In 2001, the museum launched the 'Renaissance Rom' project, the main purpose of which was to expand and renovate the museum's site. From fifty entrants, twelve international architects were chosen to submit proposals, which were later narrowed down to three architects: Canadian Bing Thom, Italian Andrea Bruno, and Polish-born American Daniel Libeskind. The project was awarded to Daniel Libeskind, who came up with a deconstructionist design that he sketched on a napkin during a visit to the ROM. As he explained, the crystal-like shape of his proposal was inspired by ROM's gem and mineral collection. The new design was one of the most challenging museum construction projects in North America. It required more than 3000 tones of steel and 9000 cubic meters of concrete, and throughout the whole structure, no right angles were used. Except for two bridges, the Crystal is not attached to the original ROM buildings. In recognition of a generous $30 million donation from Michael Lee-Chin, the addition is named after him. The Lee-Chin Crystal showed to the public in June 2007, however the first gallery will open in December 2007, and others will continually be added until 2010. Since the opening of Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, ROM attendance has already increased by 85 per cent.
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