It was the Canadian Museum for Human Rights' version of party crashers.
When the CMHR opened up applications for a free preview Sept. 21 and 22, the response was so overwhelming the museum's website crashed. In fact, officials abandoned the site application process and just asked applicants to email their address to obtain tickets -- receiving more than 5,000 requests (for up to four tickets each) by 5 p.m. Wednesday for 9,000 available tickets.
A lottery will now be held to determine which of the applicants will be picked for a sneak peek at the $341-million museum, which officially opens Sept. 20. Paid admissions begin Sept. 27.
Museum spokeswoman Rhea Yates said the website was pretested with a simulation of 5,000 applications and passed. Not on Wednesday, though.
"The enthusiasm is incredible," Yates said. "We far exceeded our expectations. It shows everyone feels invested in this museum. On the other hand, we were very disappointed to know people had to wait on the other end who were trying to get through but couldn't.
"We'd have been delighted to give everyone a ticket who wanted one," Yates added. "(But) We can't expand that (9,000 limit). We have a full flow of people all day Saturday and Sunday. That's a lot of people."
The tours will run approximately 50 minutes and include tours through four of 11 museum galleries. Tickets will be issued for specific times.
Yates noted many applicants were from out of town and the majority plan to take in other opening ceremony festivities, including RightsFest and the accompanying concert.
The tours will run Sept. 20 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sept. 21 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Ticket holders are expected to print their tickets in advance and present them 30 minutes prior to their tour time at the check-in tent outside the museum on Israel Asper Way.
"It really is a glimpse of what the museum has to offer," Yates said.