Party Like It’s 508 Ma

That post title is horrific but it’s the best I could do. I hope nobody dies from awkward Will Smith musical references. Please feel free to get or not get jiggy with the rest of this post. ONWARDS!

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After a ~4.5 day cross-Canada road trip with the husband and the dog, I’ve landed in Toronto and started up my new gig at the Royal Ontario Museum. I kicked things off in style last week with a visit to the ROM’s signature weekly event, Friday Night Live. The museum turns into one of the coolest nightclubs in Toronto, where¬†you can dance by the light of the purple Futalognkosaurus.

I knew that FNL was popular, but I honestly wasn’t prepared for the huge number of people that show up to this event. I’ve been reading a lot of Colleen Dilen’s excellent evidence-based museum blog Know Your Own Bone, and she frequently talks about the struggles museums face in attracting millennials. Well, the ROM was full of millennials last Friday night and I bet it will be again next week. While a lot of folks were clearly there to drink and dance and sample a bunch of different food, I also saw a lot of people spending time checking out the exhibits and talking with their friends about what they saw. I’d love to see some research into how FNL-attendees engage with the museum exhibits, and how this compares to things like fancy museum galas for donors. Interesting stuff here, indeed.

Here are some new things since I last visited the ROM galleries in 2015!

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Check out the new Dawn of Life Preview Gallery! The upcoming gallery hopes to feature the stories of the Palaeozoic Era – how life diversified in the Ediacaran and Cambrian, how animals colonized the seas and then the land, how plants evolved, the Great Dying, and more. It’s all great stuff, and highlights for me included these super Burgess Shale profiles featuring the real fossils and beautiful life restorations of the animals preserved as tiny smudges on slabs of shale. (Wiwaxia is a personal favourite, but it’s hard not to like the new-look Hallucigenia as well.)

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CHIHULY! A jaw-dropping special exhibit of Dale Chihuly’s amazing glass art. Not particularly science-oriented, but the abstractions of¬†natural objects are beautiful and the physical skill required to make this kind of sculpture is pretty mind-boggling.

20160930_211503Can you spot the ammonite/nautilus?

I’ve got some really cool projects coming down the pipeline from both my work with Lindsay Zanno at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences as well as new work in David Evans’ lab here, and I’m excited to share more Toronto adventures here over the next two years. Stay tuned!