March 16, 2009
Crystal Clear to Me
I was at Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum today. I used to work in the gift shop there so I have a soft spot for the R.O.M . But despite the fact that we're members - signed up for 2 years, we've only been twice. Our membership expires in 6 months.
The reason we've been staying away is the Michael Lee Chin Crystal. I think we've been had.
270 million dollars later Toronto's premier museum has an addition that looks like it's still waiting for the dry-wallers to come by and slap on a skim coat.
There is nothing crystalline about the place. Originally supposed to be a light-filled exhibition space where the displays would be largely visible from the street, the Crystal is a masterpiece of dead ends, unusable sloped wall and slits of windows where vistas had been envisaged. Apparently dreams of glass gave way to the reality of snowy winters.
Rumour has it that architect Daniel Libeskind dashed of a sketch of the Crystal on a napkin. It was supposedly so new, so inventive that the building's engineers puzzled over how to erect this Rubik's Cube of glass. Well, they should have called the Denver Art Museum . Libeskind stuck it to them first in 2006. They have snow there too.
This is the biggest case of The Emperor's New Clothes ever foist upon the city. I was around for the building and the demolition of the ROM's 1984 addition. I will be around for the demoliton of Libeskind's Crystal.