Royal Ontario Museum celebrates opening of Bloor St Terrace and Plaza

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Royal Ontario Museum celebrates opening of Bloor St Terrace and Plaza
The Helga and Mike Schmidt Performance Terrace and Reed Family Plaza. Photo: Matt Forsythe © Matt Forsythe Photography.

TORONTO.- Today, the Royal Ontario Museum opened the Helga and Mike Schmidt Performance Terrace and the Reed Family Plaza to the public, offering a new way for visitors to enjoy the ROM. The Museum’s new terrace and plaza on Bloor Street, overlooking Philosopher’s Walk, feature a welcoming place to gather with garden-side seating and an open-air space for music, theatre, discussion, and performances. This revitalization project was generously made possible by lead donors Helga Schmidt and her late husband Mike Schmidt, and Nita and Don Reed. Additional generous donations were made by Hatch, Nancy Lockhart and the late Murray Frum, Richard Wernham and Julia West, and Flavia Redelmeier.

The opening of the Museum’s new outdoor spaces is part of the ROM’s larger strategic vision to create an engaging streetscape and greater access, while enhancing the ROM’s role as a cultural and community anchor. The initiative marks the final phase of the ROM’s Welcome Project, which also includes the reopening of the heritage Weston Entrance on Queen’s Park (December 2017) and complimentary access to the Daphne Cockwell Gallery dedicated to First Peoples art & culture (April 2018).

“Building community, ensuring accessibility, and playing a meaningful role in people’s lives are key elements of our enduring success,” says Josh Basseches, ROM Director & CEO. “The opening of the Helga and Mike Schmidt Performance Terrace and the Reed Family Plaza not only enhances the pedestrian experience along Bloor Street, it also provides new ways to deepen the ROM’s connection with our community and participate in the urban life of the city. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, visitors now have a new and inviting civic space to enjoy in the heart of Toronto. We are very grateful to Helga and Mike Schmidt and Nita and Don Reed for making this important project possible.”

Designed by Toronto architect Siamak Hariri of Hariri Pontarini Architects, the Bloor Street exterior has been reimagined and transformed into 13,595 square feet of outdoor public space, anchored by landscaping and architectural design. Set back from the street on an elevated platform, the Helga and Mike Schmidt Performance Terrace is surrounded by the greenery of Philosopher's Walk, the striking contemporary architecture of the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, and the softly textured stone walls of the ROM's heritage façade. Garden beds and plantings dot the Reed Family Plaza, drawing pedestrians in and offering an oasis from the hustle and bustle of Bloor Street. The green space, designed by Ronald Holbrook & Associates, will feature a seasonal palette of native, perennial plant species that reflect the ROM’s biodiversity mandate.

“Supporting a beautiful outdoor performance space at the Museum is a dream come true,” says Helga Schmidt, philanthropist and ROM supporter. “My late husband would have been very proud of this moment, which honours our shared love of music and live performance.”

“Our family is very pleased to support the ROM’s new vision for community engagement with the Reed Family Plaza,” says Nita Reed, long-time ROM donor and volunteer. “It’s a thrill to see it come to life as a dynamic gathering space along Bloor Street.”

The ROM is celebrating the launch of the Helga and Mike Schmidt Performance Terrace and the Reed Family Plaza with programming for visitors of all ages from noon to 3:00 p.m. today. In September, programming will be available every Saturday and Sunday from noon to 3:00 p.m.

“Like one of its alluring galleries, the ROM’s new terrace and plaza is a space that people will want to experience,” said Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. “Sitting outside in a beautiful place is one of summer’s greatest pleasures, and with exciting cultural offerings on the menu, the ROM is giving both locals and tourists another reason to visit this impressive Ontario attraction.”

This launch is the latest in a number of initiatives the ROM has undertaken to increase public access to the Museum and its extensive collection of art, culture, and nature. In April 2019, the Museum introduced 3rd Monday Nights Free, a program that invites visitors to experience the Museum free of charge, on the third Monday evening of every month. In 2018, the ROM opened the Daphne Cockwell Gallery dedicated to First Peoples art & culture free of charge to all visitors to foster greater appreciation of the Indigenous collections stewarded by the Museum. And through the ROM’s Community Access Network (ROMCAN), a collaboration with 100 community partners across Ontario, the Museum provides free access to over 100,000 visitors every year. Most recently, the Museum introduced a social prescription pilot program in partnership with ROMCAN that enables people accessing health or social services to benefit from the enriching experience of engaging with art and culture, with free admission to the ROM.

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