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Human rights museum's shell nears completion

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Despite being hobbled by a lack of funding, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is still on schedule to finish construction by the end of this year.

Angela Cassie, the museum’s director of communications, said the "base" building is now just over 80 per cent complete. The base building includes all interior, exterior and mechanical work.

"We remain right on schedule for the major construction and should have the building sealed and finished by the end of 2012," Cassie said.

The glass panels that make up the museum’s distinctive "wings" are almost completely installed. A few of the German-made glass panels were damaged, either in transport or during installation, but are expected to be completely finished by July. Cassie said that will allow the contractors and trades to leave their trailers and move their operations inside the museum.

Next week, the final phase of glass installation begins, with panels used to encase the Tower of Hope, the spire that reaches high above the main museum building. Installation of those panels has been hampered recently by high winds.

What will not have been completed is the complex work on the exhibit installations. Cassie said this work includes some interior wall construction and, most importantly, wiring for the sophisticated electronics that will be featured in the museum’s galleries.

The completion date for this work is currently up in the air because of a funding shortage. Right now, the museum is approximately $65 million short of the total funding needed to complete and open the building. The museum corporation is still searching for a financing option that would allow it to complete the acquisition and installation of the exhibit technology, Cassie said.

The funding shortage means the museum does not have a firm opening date.

The federal government has, to date, refused to provide any additional money to the museum, which is a federal Crown corporation. The Friends of the CMHR, the main fundraising arm of the museum, has pledged to continue raising private donations but has no timetable for raising those additional monies.

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