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With more visitors than expected so far -- a third of them from outside Manitoba -- and with financial books in the black, Canadian Museum for Human Rights officials say they're pleased with the first few months of operations.
More than 100,000 visitors have walked through the museum's doors since it opened in September with limited guided tours, officials said during the museum's annual meeting Wednesday.
Of those, 58,360 visitors came during October and November by buying a ticket, getting a membership, visiting the gift shop or restaurant, or with a booked event. The remainder came during the opening ceremonies, preview tours, facility rentals or other events.
In November, 30 per cent of visitors were from out of province, coming from such places as the United States, Japan, China, El Salvador and Poland.
'The building has become one of the iconic shapes on the Winnipeg skyline'-- Susanne Robertson, museum's chief financial officer
Officials said annual visitation had been projected at about 20,000 people per month, or 250,000 annually.
"It's a wonderful starting point," said Gail Stephens, the museum's interim president and CEO.
"The building has become one of the iconic shapes on the Winnipeg skyline," said Susanne Robertson, the museum's chief financial officer.
By mid-afternoon, with free admission all day to celebrate International Human Rights Day Wednesday, 1,650 people had come to the museum. The gift shop was full of people, almost every seat in the restaurant was taken and the coat check had a lineup.
But during the earlier hour-long annual meeting -- the scene of tough questions in past years before the museum opened -- more than half the seats were empty and nobody in the audience had any questions.
"Now that we are open, people who had questions and concerns have been here and have seen it," said Gail Asper, whose father, media mogul Izzy Asper, came up with the idea for the museum, and for which she campaigned for dollars and support in the years since his death.
"There were no serious questions -- there were no questions. People have checked it out for themselves and people like the museum.
"I'm really happy."
John Young, vice-chairman of the CMHR's board of trustees, said its vision for the next few years is "to host human rights exhibits of enduring significance and to create a space that is a centre for educating current and future generations, to inspire a sense of appreciation for the foundational rights and freedoms that we all have simply because we are human.
"We envision a vibrant facility that encourages innovative and creative thinking."
Young said the museum is moving toward completing a space to house temporary travelling exhibits and a large theatre for films, special events and panel discussions.
Robertson said the museum ended up $432,000 in the black at its year end on March 31 -- before it opened -- after the federal government contributed $19.8 million, up from $14.5 million the year before.
Robertson said the museum is hoping through admissions, rentals, and other sources of revenue it will be able to raise about 15 to 20 per cent of its operating cost in future years.
"A fair amount of our operating revenue will always be funded by the federal government, just like the other national museums... it's a national museum and part of the mandate is to preserve collections and preserve stories."
Also Wednesday, 30 new Canadians were officially granted citizenship at the museum in honour of International Human Rights Day.
Multiculturalism and Literacy Minister Flor Marcelino was on hand to offer the province's congratulation, along with federal representatives from Citizenship and Immigration Canada.