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10 Administrations past

I had occasional run--ins with the administration over the years, all of which pale in significance compared with what is happening there today.

When the ROM reopened, in the fall of 1982, after extensive renovations, there were still several closed--off galleries undergoing completion. Visitors therefore had far fewer things to see for the price of admission. One additional attraction was a travelling exhibition, Treasures from the Tower of London, which ran between March and June, 1983, but there was a significant additional charge.

While chatting with the guards, as I frequently did, they told me that visitors were leaving the museum feeling dissatisfied at seeing relatively little for the same cost of admission. Concerned at this, I hurried off to speak with the Director.

On my way to his office I encountered one of the Board members (Board of Trustees). When I voiced my concerns her only response was that the Ontario government should be giving us more money. The Director did not have much to say either. As I made my way back to our department, I made a decision: next March break would be Dinosaur Week.

The format was simple. Setting up tables on the main floor, we filled them with fossils and collecting equipment: everything from dinosaur bones and a giant shark’s tooth, to a rock saw and field jackets containing collected specimens. Taking turns with other members of our department, we captivated the crowds throughout the entire week and weekend.

Chris McGowan and daughters, Dinosaur Week 1983

Images come to mind of the long line--ups outside the museum each morning. I also recall what was said by one of the senior administrators. He complained because extra chairs had to be rented to accommodate the overcrowded cafeteria!

Other departments subsequently joined in, making March break a major event in the ROM calendar, which continues to the present.


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