TORONTO -- Teams
of construction workers, museum curators and design engineers are
putting the final touches on the first phase of a $180 million
expansion and renovation of the Royal Ontario Museum.
aspect of the project, which encompasses 10 new and renewed
galleries on the museums main floor, debuts Dec. 26 with the
opening of a wing showcasing the art, culture, tradition and
archaeology of China, Japan and Korea.
In addition to a
special exhibit, Korea Around 1900: The Paintings of Gisan, which
will be on display until Dec. 4, 2006, the Royal Ontario Museums
redone galleries will feature three of the worlds best-preserved
Yuan Dynasty wall paintings from Shanxi Province, the largest of
which, The Paradise of Maitreya, was still being meticulously
cleaned and conserved during a hard-hat tour of the museums redone
digs in late November.
At the same time,
three Chinese artisans -- squatting on
paint cans placed on scaffolding high above the walkway --
completed close-up, precision reconstruction work on a corner of a
17th century Chinese palace.
They are part of
a team of 10 woodcutters, tilers and painters on loan from the
National Museum of Architecture in Beijing assembling the
structure, which is being built on site using traditional Chinese
techniques and materials such as custom-made wooden parts, stone
plinths and roof tiles.
The Ming Tomb,
which dates to 1656 and comprises statues of two camels, a civil
and military official -- as well as an altar, an archway and the
marble-paneled tomb itself -- has been relocated for the third time
since its acquisition by the Royal Ontario Museum in 1921. It now
dominates the new Gallery of Chinese Architecture.
is getting much of the attention of Torontonians these days, it is
architect Daniel Libeskinds ground-breaking Michael Lee-Chin
Crystal building, a futuristic-looking structure of angle joints,
sloped aluminum-clad walls and glass, that is the talk of the
Jutting out four
stories over bustling Bloor Street, the Crystal skeleton was topped
off in July when its steel structure -- 2,800 tons of it,
comprising 3,000 beams and 28 tons of bolts -- was completed and
317,832 square feet of concrete poured.
According to a
spokesman for the museum, the Crystals grand design started as a
simple sketch on a restaurant napkin by Libeskind, who is also the
site plan architect for the Freedom Tower of the World Trade Center
site in New York.
Once the aluminum
cladding and glasswork is attached, the Crystal will be well on its
way to its scheduled grand opening in the fall of 2006, at which
time it will encompass more than 50,000 square feet of added
according to the museum, is that the opening of the Crystal and the
revitalization of the galleries and public spaces will spark an
increase in base annual attendance from its present 750,000 to as
many as 1.6 million guests.
And that doesnt
count among the visitors the 10 artisans from Beijing, who
undoubtedly will be heading home as soon as the paint dries on the
Chinese palace exhibit.
reporter Joe Rosen, send e-mail to [email protected].