Canadian Museum for Human Rights opens in Winnipeg, Manitoba


Canadian Museum for Human Rights - Winter 2014 - ©Aaron Cohen Photos/CMHR

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights opens to the public in Winnipeg on September 27, 2014. As Canada's first national museum built since 1967, and the first established outside the capital city of Ottawa, the museum's grand opening celebration on September 20 was greeted with much fanfare and controversy (CTV National News).

I first learned about the new museum at Manitoba House during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. A year later, while in Winnipeg following a trip to Churchill, I saw it under construction. Built at a cost of $351 million -- with funding by private donations and public contributions -- it rises from the ground at the Forks of the Red and Assinboine rivers. It sits on Treaty One land and the Metis homeland, a meeting place for thousands of years. 

The museum was designed by Antoine Predock of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The American architect's notable projects include the La Luz community in Albuquerque, Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College and Petco Park for the San Diego Padres. Designed to resemble a mythic mountain surrounded by a massive glass cloud, it includes:
  • One kilometer (.6 mile) of glowing white alabaster ramps where visitors will take "a journey of light through the darkness"
  • 100-meter shining Tower of Hope (equivalent to a 23-story building)
  • Interior Garden of Contemplation that features basalt rock, water and greenery
The goal of the museum is "to enhance public understanding of human rights, promote respect others and encourage reflection and contemplation." The 11 galleries were designed by Ralph Appelbaum Associates and include:

What are Human Rights?
Indigenous Perspectives
Canadian Journeys
Protecting Rights in Canada
Examining the Holocaust
Turning Points for Humanity
Breaking the Silence
Actions Count
Rights Today
Expressions
Inspiring Change



WHY WINNIPEG?
"The CMHR stands as the first national museum built outside the National Capital Region in Ottawa. It sits on a historic site, surrounded by a city with an inspiring human rights legacy -- from the labour rights struggle of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike to Nellie McClung's fight for women's right to vote, defence of French-language rights, the push for Aboriginal self-determination ... and so much more. Winnipeg is a city of diversity, home to the country's largest urban Aboriginal population, immigrants from around the globe, and the largest French-speaking community in Western Canada. It boasts globally-inspired cuisine, world-class arts organizations and vibrant ethnic festivals. It is also a growing centre of human rights scholarship at its four universities." Canadian Museum for Human Rights

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