“What other major cities have you been to, Trin?” my friend asked.
I remained spellbound at the entrance to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), its large angular windows reflecting light droplets of spring rain in time with the city’s cool breath.
“Um, none.” I turned to him and grinned ruefully. “How about you?”
I haven’t had the chance to explore those major cities like Istanbul or Shanghai or Paris that are said to be a hub for those who are drawn to art and history and urban culture. This fall I should have more freedom to follow my own whims as a student.
When I have had a chance to explore new cities- usually a stolen moment during trips to see family or while travelling for climbing competitions- I have always found something particular to love. In Wellington, N.Z., it was the libraries. In Canada, all the bicycles, pedestrians and le métro of Old Montréal and the scattered Chinatowns of Calgary. From my two brief trips to Toronto, Ontario’s capital, it would be the ROM.
Most of my junior and senior high years having been dominated by climbing, my visit to the ROM two months ago was the first time I’ve been to a major museum since I was a little kid glued to the dinosaur exhibits. That considered, it blew my mind. With only two hours to spend in the ROM before my flight back, my exploration was limited to Egypt, the undeniable dino section, and a whirlwind 5 minute run through China. I’ve always thought of museums as a place you take kids to. And as a kid, I just wanted to look around a bit then get an ice cream-I must have missed something in my introduction to these wonderful troves of culture because I never even imagined how much I would enjoy going to the museum! Once I arrived, a curious impulse came over me : an overwhelming desire to touch everything. It hit me how all those wonderful past creations had been sculpted by a human being, hundreds to thousands of years ago-even millions-and I craved to turn each pottery figure over in my hands and brush my fingers across each ancient coin or tapestry to feel its texture.
I actually read the information signs and wanted to know more. If my friends hadn’t pulled me away from Egypt or if a ringing phone hadn’t recalled me from China to remind me of my impending flight, I could’ve lived there.
I think what caused my drastic change of heart towards museums was curiosity. I let myself dream of the past, of ancient empires unfathomable, and of the future- more art to be created, museums to be explored and major cities to be visited.