“Do we have to read everything?” says my 10-year-old as we entered Bloodsuckers: Legends to Leeches that just opened at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.

Our family explores museums in very different ways. One like a pinball machine, the other beelining it to anything with a button, and the other totally absorbed by every single label.

So you can guess who is the latter.

Once you set foot into the ROM’s latest feature exhibition – on display until March 22, 2020 – you’ll understand why. There are so many fascinating facts whether you’re into science, history or pop culture. From coagulating red blood cells and bloodletting to ‘cure’ disease to the origins of vampires and Dracula and how to remove a tick properly, the exhibition touches on all of the above through dozens of displays and lots of specimens of real bloodsuckers. Among them, there are live leeches and ticks and (non-living) bedbugs and lice – hopefully this is your first time seeing them IRL!

We liked the many moments to test your knowledge on whether a statement is either science or fiction. Like – do all mosquitoes drink blood? Nope, just the females. And what blood type do they prefer? Type O!

And for those who prefer feeling to reading, there are a number of touch-screens and interactive displays, like a game where you’re a mosquito looking for lunch (photo below) and a series of larger-than-life bites of the likes of black flies and ticks that you can compare by sight and touch. Thanks to this exhibition, I’ll never have to google ‘tick bite’ again. There is also a mini-theatre showing clips from the near- and far-past films that have been inspired by natural and mythical bloodsuckers.

While my kids maybe didn’t get sucked in at first step, they definitely walked out with a better understanding and appreciation for all the blood-sucking creatures.


Getting thereDriving, some paid street parking ($3/hr) and parking lots in the area. There is a discounted (ask for parking voucher at admissions desk) on Bedford Ave. By TTC, walk from St. George subway stop or get off right at Museum stop along University Ave. (If you haven’t already seen it, the Museum Station platform is ROM-inspired.) There are two entrances – one on Bloor Street through the Crystal and the recently reopened historic entrance on University Ave.

Admission: Here are the latest prices.

Some general info if you’ve never been: