HISTORY Toronto is a popular museum and attraction located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It offers visitors the chance to experience Canadian history through interactive exhibits and immersive experiences. The museum has two main levels – the floor level and the mezzanine level. Both offer unique exhibits and experiences, so visitors should explore both levels to get the full HISTORY Toronto experience. This article will compare and contrast the floor and mezzanine levels at HISTORY Toronto, looking at the key differences in layout, theming, exhibits, and amenities.
Layout and Design
The floor plan and layout of the two levels at HISTORY Toronto have some notable differences:
– The floor level is the main entry level when you first walk into HISTORY Toronto. It has the lobby, ticketing, and guest services areas.
– The floor level houses many of the major permanent exhibits at HISTORY Toronto, including the Canadian History Hall and Built Toronto.
– The layout is open concept with large exhibit halls. It focuses on grand, sweeping experiences of broad eras and events in Canadian history.
– Ceilings on the floor level are high, up to 3 stories in height in some spots. This contributes to the grand, immersive feel.
– The mezzanine level is upstairs, accessible by escalator, elevator, or stairs.
– It has smaller, more intimate exhibit spaces than the wide open floor below.
– The mezzanine focuses on niche topics and unique perspectives in Canadian history.
– Layout uses a winding path with alcoves, narrow hallways, and small rooms. This contributes to an intimate, surprising feel.
– Ceilings are lower, with a standard single story height. Spaces feel more enclosed compared to the soaring floor level.
Theming and Concept
The floor and mezzanine levels also have some differing themes and conceptual approaches:
Floor Level Theming
– Broad Canadian history – Follows the overarching narrative of Canadian history from early indigenous peoples through the present.
– Sweeping scope – Exhibits cover wide time periods, large geographic areas, and major events/figures. Focuses on the big picture.
– National identity – Connects Canadian history to a unifying national identity and shared experiences as Canadians.
– Immersive environments – Uses detailed set pieces, multimedia, and interactive elements to immerse visitors in different historical eras and settings.
Mezzanine Level Theming
– Focused topics – Each space has a unique topic, like 1950s Toronto or Indigenous cultures. Allows deeper exploration of niche topics.
– Diverse perspectives – Looks at Canadian history through various cultural and demographic lenses to highlight diverse voices and experiences.
– Community histories – Focuses on local history in specific Toronto neighborhoods and communities.
– Ordinary lives – Exhibits highlight stories of everyday people and lesser-known individuals in Canadian history.
The major permanent exhibits are quite different on each level:
Key Floor Level Exhibits
– Canadian History Hall – A sprawling exhibit on Canadian history from early indigenous settlers up to present day. Uses multimedia displays, artifacts, and immersive sets.
– Built Toronto – Focuses on architecture, urban planning, and development in Toronto. Includes intricate models of heritage buildings.
– The Hockey Exhibit – Traces the history of hockey in Canada with historic equipment, uniforms, and multimedia experiences.
Key Mezzanine Level Exhibits
– Indigenous Peoples – Celebrates the vibrant cultures, languages, and traditions of Canada’s First Nations, Inuit, and Metis peoples.
– Canadian Wilderness – Focuses on Canada’s natural landscapes, wildlife, and conservation efforts through dioramas, artifacts, and multimedia visuals.
– Your Toronto Story – An intimate exhibit where visitors can share memories, photos, and stories about their lives in Toronto communities.
Amenities and Offerings
The amenities and offerings on each level also have their distinctions:
Floor Level Amenities
– The Canadiana Cafe – A restaurant serving Canadian-inspired dishes, snacks, and beverages.
– Canada Shop – The main gift shop with a wide selection of souvenirs, local products, and branded merchandise.
– coat check area and lockers – To store coats, bags, and personal items while visiting.
– Family restrooms – Restrooms equipped with baby changing stations and stroller parking.
Mezzanine Level Amenities
– Viewing gallery – An elevated gallery offering panoramic views of the ground level.
– Temporary exhibits gallery – Houses rotating exhibits from other museums or private collections.
– Cafe overlook – A small cafe with light snacks and beverages overlooking the floor below.
– Nursing suite – A private suite for nursing mothers to feed babies.
Wayfinding and Accessibility
How visitors navigate and move between the two levels is also quite different:
Connecting the Two Levels
– Escalators and elevators in central lobby area can take visitors between the floor and mezzanine.
– Grand staircase connects the two levels in a dramatic, open fashion.
– Signage and wayfinding aids direct visitors to key destinations on each level.
– Ramps, elevators, and accessibility washrooms are provided on both levels.
– Mezzanine level has compact layout that may pose challenges for those with mobility issues. Floor level offers more open space.
– Wheelchairs available for loan on main floor if needed.
– Service animals welcome throughout the museum.
– Sensory-friendly tools like noise cancelling headphones available for those with sensory processing needs.
Atmosphere and Experience
The vibe and experience also varies on the two levels:
Floor Level Atmosphere
– High energy
– Often bustling with crowds and activity
– Expansive, open spaces
– Large-scale set pieces and multimedia create an immersive, sensory experience
– Theatre-like presentations in some exhibits
Mezzanine Level Atmosphere
– More relaxed and low key
– Intimate exhibits have a quieter, more contemplative vibe
– Compact winding layout with alcoves for sitting create a cozy feel
– Patrons speak in hushed tones compared to louder ground floor
– Focused exhibits allow visitors to delve deeper into specific topics
Staffing and Operations
Running these two expansive levels requires considerable staffing and operations:
Floor Level Operations
– Security staff monitor the open floor plan with surveillance cameras and roaming patrols.
– Visitor services staff at the entrance, exit, and lobby offer guidance.
– Facilities staff take care of maintenance like lighting, AV, and cleaning.
– Gallery interpreters provide exhibit info and answer questions on the floor.
Mezzanine Level Operations
– Smaller security presence focused on exhibit hall entry and exits.
– Fewer visitor services staff needed given the smaller spaces.
– Most facilities maintenance done when the mezzanine is closed.
– Gallery interpreters have deeper knowledge on the niche exhibits.
Ticketing and Hours
The ticketing arrangements and hours of operation vary as well between the levels:
Tickets and Pricing
– Main admission tickets grant access to both levels.
– Floor level-only tickets are sold at a discounted rate for limited access.
– Special exhibits or events may require surcharge tickets.
– Annual membership options provide year-round entry.
Hours of Operation
– The floor level keeps longer hours – open daily 9am to 5pm.
– Mezzanine level closes earlier, open 10am to 4pm daily.
– Some peak periods like holidays may have extended hours.
– Members can access both levels earlier with exclusive early entry.
In summary, while the floor and mezzanine at HISTORY Toronto are part of the same museum, they offer very distinct experiences. The floor has an expansive, immersive layout perfect for the major exhibitions on Canadian history. Meanwhile, the mezzanine provides an intimate setting to learn about niche topics and stories. Visitors should be sure to explore both levels to fully experience everything HISTORY Toronto has to offer. With varied layouts, exhibits, atmospheres, and operations, the two levels complement each other beautifully. Whether you are contemplating the broad sweep of history on the grand floor or absorbing focused stories on the cozy mezzanine, HISTORY Toronto offers rewarding encounters with Canada’s fascinating past.