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Royal Ontario Museum announces $50 million cash gift — largest in its history

The Royal Ontario Museum — more widely known in Toronto as the ROM — has announced a $50 million cash gift from the Hennick family foundation, the biggest cash donation in its history.

“We cannot think of a better way to support the revitalization of civic life in Toronto and Ontario than to support the Royal Ontario Museum’s new vision,” said Barbara and Jay Hennick in a statement, “which promises to transform iconic spaces and the way we experience art, culture and nature for generations to come.”

The donation comes on the heels of the museum announcing its major new revisioning and branding strategy just weeks ago, beginning with the first floor of the museum and gallery being free to the public from June 9 to Sept. 25 — some 80,000 square feet of exhibition space — that includes Asian galleries, two pandemic-related shows and the Daphne Cockwell Gallery dedicated to First Peoples arts and culture, as reported earlier this month in the Star.

New initiatives already in place in the opened space for performances and events allows visitors to get up close to artifacts and talk to ROM experts about their care.

In a release, Josh Basseches, the ROM’s director and CEO, reaffirmed the museum’s commitment “to becoming ever more central to people’s lives by creating an uplifting and inspiring environment that engages visitors and brings people together.”

Details of how the funds would be deployed were not immediately released. However, Basseches also hinted at more “physical and programmatic enhancements” to come.

John Kearsey, President & CEO of the museum’s philanthropic arm, said in a statement that, “The Hennick Family Foundation is enabling us to offer a more inclusive space for people to learn, exchange ideas and share different points of view,” and reiterated the importance of the gift to what he called “once-in-a-generation change.”


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