30 May 2018




Are you feeling curious about the creatures seen lurking on TTC subways, streetcars and in subway stations? I know I was, after seeing countless advertisements for Curious Creatures: From the Travels of Robert Ripley at Ripley's Aquarium.

Quote from Robert Ripley. Photo courtesy of Maddy Howard.
Robert Ripley (1890-1949) is most well-known for his "Believe It or Not" Odditoriums. Ripley was a cartoonist, explorer, adventurer, reporter, and collector of the odd and unusual. He unbelievably (or believably) travelled to over 200 countries in 35 years. Ripley's Aquarium brings together seven aquatic species from around the world, coupled with unique artifacts collected from Ripley's numerous travels. 

The Fiji Mermaid. Photo courtesy of Maddy Howard.
Aboard the Chinese junk-style ship, the Mon Lei, Ripley travelled North America's eastern seaboard. Curious Creatures invites you aboard a replica of the Mon Lei to accompany Ripley on his around-the-world tour. 

Boarding the Mon Lei for fantastic adventures. Photo courtesy of Maddy Howard.
Curious Creatures takes visitors to China, Australia, Indonesia, the Caribbean, Japan, and California to experience the unbelievable. Each region of the exhibition highlights a different aquatic animal. These fishy friends include Goldfish, Peacock Mantis Shrimp, Splitfin Flashlight fish, Polkadot Batfish, Giant Isopods, Frogfish, and the Sarcastic Fringehead (who isn't that sarcastic). Above each tank is a television screen that gives more information about the fish, such as where it's found, its prey, and other fun facts about the species.

Additional information for the Sarcastic Fringehead. Photo courtesy of Maddy Howard.
Display of Goldfish from China. Photo courtesy of Maddy Howard.
Ripley's passion for the odd and unusual is showcased throughout the exhibition, not just through the interesting creatures on display, but also through the artifacts he collected. While the fish are the focus, the exhibition looks at the different people and cultures that Ripley encountered on his adventures. This creates an informative and fun exhibition for adults and children. Being able to see the fish and the artifacts side by side, the exhibition truly makes it feel like one is voyaging around the world with Ripley. The world is as unique and diverse as these animals and hitting the highlights of Ripley's tour really brings that home for the visitor. 

A collection of artifacts from Ripley's adventures. Photo courtesy of Maddy Howard.
The use of stereoscope images around the exhibition also helped to take the visitor around the world with Ripley on his adventures. Each stereoscope station held three to four images from Ripley's various tours. This was an exciting element that helped to engage visitors and continued to intrigue. 

I particularly enjoyed the exhibition's use of informational panels. These text panels were not done in the traditional sense, but were short, sweet and comical. Most of the text in the exhibition was related to different creatures on Ripley's tour. Inside circular text panels, a cartoonish image of the creature was shown along with a fun fact. 

A cartoon Frogfish and a stereoscope station. Photo courtesy of Maddy Howard.
Inside the stereoscope, Robert Ripley on one of his expeditions. Photo courtesy of Maddy Howard.
The world is a unique and marvellous place, filled with the odd and the unexplained. Curious Creatures brought a sense of wonder to both visitors young and old. 

The exhibition opened March 2, 2018 and is running indefinitely, so sail over to Ripley's Aquarium to swim with these fantastic fish. 


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