Michael Lee-Chin Crystal (Royal Ontario Museum)
100 Queen’s Park
Ontario M5S 2C6


Daniel Libeskind (joint venture with Bregman + Hamann Architects) 2007


In late 2001, the Royal Ontario Museum short-listed three architecture firms from the twelve International firms expressing interest in designing their expansion. Those that made the short list included Architetto Andrea Bruno, Bing Thom Architects, and Daniel Libeskind. In the spring of 2002, Daniel Libeskind was announced as the architect that was awarded the project. The addition was named after one of the biggest donors of the project, Michael Lee-Chin.



The design of the expansion was inspired by the crystal exhibition in the museum. Hard edges and massive crystalline extrusions were used to mimic a crystal explosion emanating from within the original structure. Beacons protrude from the museum in different directions and angles, some of them reaching beyond the museum’s base and into Toronto’s Bloor Street below.



Along with the addition came new accessibility and function, with new entrances on Bloor Street, additional exhibition space, the museum store, and a new fine dining restaurant. Walking down Bloor Street affords the public a sneak peek into some of the gallery spaces inside.



Inside the museum, the addition now houses a 3-story-high lobby named the “Gloria Chen Court”. The lobby space is flanked by the new crystal expansion and the old brick-and-mortar wall of the museum. Old and new only meet via connection bridges, so visitors must access the crystal’s exhibition space from either the elevator off the lobby or the appropriately named “Stairwell of Discovery”. In the stairwell, uniquely shaped display cases that echo the museum’s exterior walls house interesting mini-exhibits. The crystal addition itself surrounds a hollow void, from the ground floor all the way up to the 4th level. On the ground floor, this space is called the “Spirit House” and serves as a sitting area that includes a few of Libeskind’s own “Spirit House Chairs”. The stainless steel chairs within the Spirit House resonate with the crystalline appearance of the addition. Gazing up through the void that makes up the Spirit House, visitors observe an interwoven pattern of bridges linking elevators, stairwells and exhibit spaces.



Wilma Kwan 2008



How to visit


The museum is at the corner of Queen’s Park and Bloor Street. It is accessible via the TTC Subway. Take the University Line Subway to “Museum” station, and exit the west stairwell. The main entrance is on Bloor Street through the Crystal.


For hours, location and exhibition information, please visit the museum's website at www.rom.on.ca/crystal or call +1 416 586 8000.


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