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Text by James Bow and Richard White

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Museum station opened to the public on February 28, 1963 as a stop on the UNIVERSITY subway line. Located south of the intersection of Queen’s Park and Charles Street West, it served, as its name implies, the Royal Ontario Museum.

Museum station was built using cut and cover, immediate north of the end of the tunnelled section of the UNIVERSITY line and south of the beginnings of the underground wye that would connect the UNIVERSITY subway line with the BLOOR-DANFORTH line. This is another reason why the station is built a block south of Bloor, rather than on Bloor itself.

Station Design and Early Changes

The station has no above-ground structure beyond the openings of four stairwells at the four corners of the Queen’s Park/Charles Street intersection, leading to a concourse level where fare gates allow passengers to pass through to a set of stairs and an escalator leading to the station platform below. Initially, Museum station shared the interior design of the BLOOR-DANFORTH line, with two-toned ceramic tiles (yellow background tiles with blue trim), a departure from the design of the UNIVERSITY subway stations further south.

One feature of the station that was added after the opening is an area of the platform at the south end of the station, isolated from the public using metal bars, giving it the nickname “the Museum jail.” This was done in the late 1970s following a murder that took place in St. Patrick station in a part of the platform that was isolated from the view and did not have access to exit stairs. A similar area was blocked from the public at Queen’s Park, but Queen’s Park and St. Patrick were completely walled off. The area behind the bars is often used for storage.

The TCF Renovations of 2008

Despite its location near a world-class historical and science museum, Museum station did not see heavy use. The station was kept generally clean and saw few changes until 2008, when an initiative from the Toronto Community Foundation to update the look of the station, emphasizing its relationship to the Museum. With a grant of $5,000,000, the station platform was renovated, with architectural flourishes recalling other civilizations and cultures, including Doric Columns from ancient Greece, a Toltec Warrior, an Osiris Pilaster from Ancient Egypt, a Forbidden City Column from China and a Wuikinuxv First Nation Bear House Post. On the walls of the station, the name “MUSEUM” was made larger, and inset with hieroglyphs. The renovations also added updated LED lighting. Similar plans were drawn up to retrofit St. Patrick station and link it thematically to the Art Gallery of Ontario, and to do the same with Osgoode, linking it with the Opera House, but after the Museum renovation, the plan foundered for lack of funding.

Although striking, the renovations were controversial, with some critics concerned over the blasé demolition of the station’s original clean modernist look. They also noted that the station’s renovations were entirely cosmetic, and did not address critical design issues, like the lack of a second exit (one is planned at the south end of the station, leading to the north end of Queen’s Park), and the lack of elevators to make the station wheelchair accessible.

To add insult to injury, soon after the renovations took place, the Royal Ontario Museum underwent renovations of its own, which moved its front entrance off of Queen’s Park and more than a hundred metres from the Museum station entrance to Bloor Street. For the next ten years, this made it convenient to get off at St. George station and walk to the ROM.

The situation did change, however, on December 12, 2017, when the Royal Ontario Museum officially reopened its historic east entrance, after completing renovations. The move was done to take pressure off of the overcrowded north entrance, and it once again gives the museum closer access to the subway at Museum station. Further, through 2023 and early 2024, work began on a new station entrance connecting the south end of the station platform with the north side of Queen’s Park itself. This unstaffed entrance opened to the public on Friday, May 31, 2024.

Service Notes (as of May 31, 2024):

  • Off-Site Resources:
  • Line: 1 Young - University - Spadina
  • Hours of Operation:
    First Train to Vaughan: 6:10 a.m. weekdays, 6:15 a.m. Saturdays/holidays, 8:20 a.m. Sundays.
    First Train to Finch: 5:55 a.m. weekdays, 5:59 a.m. Saturdays/holidays, 8:00 a.m. Sundays.
    Last Train to Vaughan: 1:58 a.m. weekdays, 1:54 a.m. weekends and holidays.
    Last Train to Finch: 1:37 a.m. weekdays, 1:38 a.m. weekends and holidays.
  • Address: 75 Queens Park Circle
  • Opened: February 28th, 1963
  • Average Weekday Ridership: 11,840 (2018), 9,680 (2016), 8,100 (2015), 9,800 (2014); 8,290 (2013), 8,290 (2012), 8,290 (2011), 8,590 (2010), 9,430 (2009), 11,350 (2008), 8,500 (2007)
  • Entrances:
    • Queens Park (WEST SIDE) - Out front of the Royal Ontario Museum and the Mclaughlin Planetarium to the main mezzanine entrance, with connections to the station platforms near the north end of the station.
    • Queens Park (EAST SIDE) - Out front of the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art to the main mezzanine entrance, with connections to the station platforms near the north end of the station.
    • Queens Park (SOUTH) - At the north end of Queen’s Park within Queen’s Park Circle, leading to an unstaffed entrance connecting to the station platforms near the south end of the station.
  • Escalators (click here for maintenance schedule):
    • North End (Up At All Times)
  • Not Accessible
  • Forms of fare payment include credit or debit
  • Centre platform

TTC Surface Connections:

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