The Canadian Museum for Human Rights stands alone as the only museum in the world dedicated to the topic of human rights around the globe. The first national museum in Canada to be built outside of the capital region, it is both a reminder of and homage to the darkness of days past and a beacon of hope towards a brighter and better future.
Built on ancestral land - First Nations’ Treaty One territory and the heartland of the Metis people - it stands at the heart of Winnipeg on a historic site at the forks of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers. A significant presence on Winnipeg’s skyline, it’s impossible to miss this glass ‘cloud’ shaped to mimic the wings of a dove as 1,300 glass panes wrap around the building. The soaring Tower of Hope rises 100 m into the air providing a 360-degree view of the entire city.
No travel itinerary or visit to Manitoba would be complete without a visit to this bucket-list museum. Featuring 10 interactive galleries, this is a museum that is far less about artifacts and far more about ideas presented through stories and technology. An often life-changing experience, visitors who come here will find themselves immersed in the stories of struggle and triumph that abound throughout the 4,300 sq. ft. of exhibit space.
One of the museum’s most notable features is its thoughtful architecture. Designed by Antoine Predock - chosen in one of Canada’s largest-ever juried architectural competitions - his vision was to create a building that was ‘carved into the earth and dissolving into the sky’.
Four ‘roots’ or arms ground the building into the earth, representing humanity’s connection to the land. These foundations are clad in 400-million-year-old limestone.
·The grounds around the museum are covered in 15 species of Prairie grasses, all native to the area. It is the largest urban revival of natural flora in Western Canada.
One of the most striking features inside the museum are the 800 meters of glowing ramps that lead you up through the building. Clad in Spanish alabaster and lit from within, they represent a path of light trough darkness.
Situated in the centre of the museum is the Garden of Contemplation. A quite and serene interlude where pools of water are surrounded by basalt rocks. Inspired by the Giant’s Causeway of Northern Ireland, the basalt was chosen as the material can be found anywhere in the world, symbolizing equality.
This high-performance building is LEED Silver certified. This green building includes a green roof, harvests rainwater for use in bathrooms and the glass on the outside is covered in a dot pattern of frits to reduce solar heat and reduce the need for artificial light sources.
The Museum’s permanent exhibits strive to connect each visitor to human rights. Its 10 core galleries contain diverse stories, from Canada and around the world, relayed through interactive presentation, multimedia technology and world‐class design.
In one of the most dramatic spaces of the Museum, the focus is a circular theatre of curved wooden slats, some of which include original works of art. The theatre will play a 360‐degree film that shares stories of Indigenous rights and responsibilities, as told through four different generations.
This gallery, the largest of the Museum, explores dozens of Canadian stories, from democratic rights to language rights, from freedom of conscience to freedom from discrimination. A digital canvas relays stories across a 29‐metre screen, while others are told in floor stations and story niches.
Breaking the Silence:
This gallery explores the role of secrecy and denial in many atrocities around the world. It includes a focused examination of the Ukrainian Holodomor, the Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust, the Rwandan Genocide and the Srebrenica Genocide in Bosnia. The centrepiece is a digital study table that presents images and documents related to mass human rights violations.
Bringing visitors face‐to‐face with contemporary human rights struggles and action, this gallery features an interactive wall map, a tapestry of human rights defenders and a small theatre to make them think critically about what they watch and read.
Since the museum does not house objects behind glass, technology is an integral part of the experience. Through creative and innovative design, the museum brings together the tradition of storytelling with current tech to create a completely one-of-a-kind museum experience.
Technology has also made this one of the most accessible museums in the world, ensuring that anyone who comes here enjoys a rich and fulsome experience.
The largest installation in the world allows blind and low-vision visitors to access information with an app, giving them a path to the museum’s content they otherwise wouldn’t have.
Upon entering the museum, one of the first things you’ll notice is a huge wall where ‘people’ are writing messages of welcome in 36 languages. There lifelike projected silhouettes are mesmerizing to watch.
‘Rights in Courts’ interactive circle:
This interactive exhibit replays legal cases on video screens where people are able to ‘vote’ to share their own views and verdicts.
Interactive Study Table:
This huge light table can be used by 20 people at a time as they delve into the history of genocide and mass atrocity.
Standing Digital Books:
Floor-mounted monitors display video stories about human rights activism that visitors control by pointing.