It’s unpopular to say this, but I have ambivalent feelings about Museum station. Or rather, about the 2008 renovations to the interior, in which reference is made to exhibits in the adjoining Royal Ontario Museum, for which the station was named.

Museum station platform view
Museum station features a distinctive design evoking ROM exhibits

The original platform design was clean, functional and sparse—almost a minimalist distillation of a TTC subway stop. The overall effect of the revamp is garish, though well-intentioned.

It was a mistake, albeit an enthusiastic one, to re-clad everything in a kind of Disneyfied tourist vernacular. Perhaps I lack imagination.
Museum station platform view
Gazing down the central platform: a mishmash of allusions. The roof deserved more of a touch-up.

The new-look pillars represent:
  • Ancient Greece: The Doric Columns
  • Mexico’s Toltec Culture: The Toltec Warrior
  • Ancient Egypt: The Osiris Pilaster 
  • China’s traditional culture: The Forbidden City Columns 
  • First Nations: Wuikinuxv First Nation Bear House Post.

From the vantage point of a child visiting the Museum for the first time, arriving via subway, the decorations might be viewed in a better light, as a tantalizing advance glimpse of treasures to be revealed next door.

Osiris pillar at Museum station
If I was 11 years old this would be so cool.

As an adult however, I don’t feel moved by the design. It does seem sincere, but I view the project (foisted on us by the Toronto Community Foundation, with support from the bombastic TTC Chair Howard Moscoe and his successor, Adam Giambrone) as a failure, ultimately, for three reasons:
  1. Did the renovation improve safety by adding a needed 2nd exit? No.
  2. Did the renovation make the station accessible? No.
  3. Did the renovation improve the appearance of the station? No.  

In other words, we had an opportunity to actually improve Museum station, functionally. We spent all that money, used up all that political capital, and... mostly dressed up some support columns. That’s a failure. I will grant the design one small victory: the platform level at Museum doesn’t have any advertisements.

Bench at Museum subway station
This bench was one of the few pieces whose aesthetic appeals to me over the old design (save for the ‘you can’t sleep here’ divisions)

Storage area at Museum station
Honestly, I was more interested in the caged ‘prison’ area
at the south end of the station. The bars were added after a 1982 police survey warned that muggers could linger in this area of the station without being seen. Alas, the quirky cage is doomed by the upcoming 2nd exit construction.

Museum station opened February 28, 1963 as part of the University line. The redesign officially opened April 8, 2008. The station’s concourse level also functions as an underground pedestrian crossing path for Queen’s Park.

Serious transit nerds will explain the elaborate wye junction that connects this station to the Bloor-Danforth line (in particular the ‘abandoned’ Bay Lower), and expound on the history of its operation—but I’m going to move on to the next stop...

Photo Gallery

Tour the station, and view captioned historical images from its past:

Museum station photo gallery

The obligatory transfer:
Museum station transfer
Museum station transfer

More about Museum

TTC Station info | Map | Wikipedia: Museum

Bonus video: See Museum as it was in 1980 in the Richard Chamberlain suspense-thriller, ‘Murder by Phone’

P.S. No, there’s no phone booth at that spot in real life.

My next stop: York Mills
Previous station: Rosedale

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