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Thursday 28 May 2020


Image: Cabinet designed for 14 Kingsborough Gardens, Glasgow, 1902, white painted oak, laid with silver leaf and inlaid with coloured glass by Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928). ©Royal Ontario Museum

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto, Canada, is renowned for its collections and exhibitions on art, culture and nature. It is currently closed owing to the coronavirus pandemic, as are many other world-famous institutions. However, Peter Kaellgren, curator emeritus of decorative arts at the Royal Ontario Museum and DAS member has provided ideas for inspirational visits to websites in the city.

Kaellgren coordinated major exhibitions on the Art Deco period at the ROM. He also played a key role in creating the Samuel European Galleries, where the new Gallery of Modern Design showcases works by leading European and American designers of the 20th century. Featuring hand-made masterpieces by Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann to industrially produced works by Charles and Ray Eames, the collection includes outstanding examples of modern furniture, glassware, ceramics and silver, spanning French Art Deco, American Modernism, German Bauhaus, Scandinavian Modern, the International Style and Post-War Modern design movements.

For more details, and to see some intriguing decorative arts, visit the ROM main website or ROM Online Collections.

There are also museums dedicated to specific decorative arts. One such is the George R. Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art . Its complete collection is available online, containing wonderful examples of ceramics including galleries dedicated to the 19th century and later. Minton is a particular focus, together with modern and contemporary works from North America.

A third unique museum to enjoy in Toronto is the Bata Shoe Museum. The world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of shoes and footwear-related objects, it is an internationally recognized centre for research in this field. Its fascinating collection ranges from celebrity footwear to Indigenous North American items and contains shoes from virtually every culture in the world.