Behind the Scenes Tour of the ROM’s Ornithology Department

On April 8, 2018, about a dozen SONSI members met at the Royal Ontario Museum for a tour of the Ornithology Department which had been arranged by SONSI member, Dino Pulerá. Mark Peck, who is in charge of the collection, was our host. After a brief introductory tour, he helped each of us to find the subjects we wanted to draw, and a place to set up for drawing. Barry Kent McKay asked if we could see some of the artwork of T. M. Shortt and Major Allan Brooks. Mark obliged and brought out several pieces for us to examine and admire.

Mark also engaged in several interesting conversations with us about science art, the museum and the history of the collection. Early in its history, the ROM was given a very large and complete bird skin collection. This bequest “really put the ROM on the map,” according to Mark Peck. We viewed some of these original specimens, with their original tags, with hand-written dates from the 1880s. Of course, many more specimens have been added since that time, and today the ROM’s collection is one of the largest and most complete in the world. We saw rows and rows of cabinets: treasure troves of beautiful feathers, delicate skeletons and amazing eggs. All of this wealth is available for study, and Mark encouraged us to make use of it. We ended the tour with appreciation, and looking forward to our next visit!

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