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The Royal Ontario Museum draws highest attendance numbers in its history
Sword. Iron and silver. The pommel is decorated with silver inlays. Grave find, Bengtsarvet and Häradsarvet, Sollerön, Dalarna, Sweden. Photo: Swedish History Museum.

TORONTO.- The Royal Ontario Museum today announced a record- breaking 1.44 million visitors for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2018 — the highest attendance numbers achieved in the Museum’s 104-year history and the highest museum attendance in Canada. Led by an expansive slate of ROM-original exhibitions and programs, this marks the third consecutive year that the institution has exceeded more than 1 million visitors, placing the ROM among the top 10 museums in North America.

“We are delighted that the Museum continues to attract more and more people both from here and around the world,” said Josh Basseches, ROM Director & CEO. “The record attendance numbers speak to the relevance of our original exhibitions, collections and research in people’s lives, and the importance of the Museum not only as a steward of one of the most comprehensive collections in the world, but one that has become a crucial hub of engagement.”

In addition to overall attendance growth, demand for memberships was higher than ever, with close to 120,000 members, representing an 11 per cent increase from the previous year.

A number of exceptional exhibitions contributed to the high attendance and membership figures. Leading the way was the ROM’s own Out of the Depths: The Blue Whale Story. The headline- grabbing Newfoundland recovery story and subsequent exhibition became an international sensation, bringing in more than 285,400 visitors during its run. Christian Dior, which featured an exquisite display of rarely seen classic haute couture pieces drawn from the ROM’s own exclusive collection, was held over by popular demand and attracted nearly 128,000 visitors. Other ROM-original exhibitions that generated visitor attention and acclaim were Anishinaabeg: Art & Power, The Family Camera, and Here We Are Here: Black Canadian Contemporary Art.

VIKINGS: The Exhibition, organized by The Swedish History Museum and MuseumsPartner, also contributed to the Museum’s high attendance numbers, attracting close to 208,000 visitors. Marking the last stop on a North American tour, and augmented by material from the ROM, the exhibition offered visitors a refreshingly unique perspective on Viking culture and history.

Throughout the year, the ROM presented a robust lineup of exclusive and often sold-out programs and events. Featured speakers included celebrated Swedish chef Magnus Nilsson of the Michelin-starred restaurant Fäviken; and best-selling author and historian Timothy Snyder, whose lecture On Tyranny drew standing-room-only crowds. Companion programming tied to specific exhibitions, such as key creative talent from the popular television series Vikings, and fashion historian and Dior expert Florence Müller, brought additional depth and insight to the exhibition experience.

Building on a record-breaking year of success, the ROM has scheduled another strong lineup of exhibitions and programs for the 2018/2019 season. Some upcoming highlights include Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion, Philip Beesley: Transforming Space, Spiders: Fear & Fascination, and later in the year Zuul: Life of an Armoured Dinosaur, another ROM-original exhibition based on a newly discovered species of armoured dinosaur.

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