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Museum moving right(s) along

Officials confident all will be in place for big day

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Landscape expert Bob Somers crouches in tall grass around the human rights museum. The intent is to get 'as close to a tall grass prairie here as one can,' he says.
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RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Landscape expert Bob Somers crouches in tall grass around the human rights museum. The intent is to get 'as close to a tall grass prairie here as one can,' he says. s Photo Store

Inside the Canadian Museum for Human Rights there are still construction workers working away while outside it looks like weeds are taking over.

But spokespeople for the CMHR say they're not worried because everything is on schedule for the inside and what's outside is supposed to look that way -- for now.

With just under two months left until opening day on Sept. 20, Corey Timpson, the museum's director of exhibits and new media, said workers are no longer constructing the building, but are busy installing the wiring and other infrastructure to be able to run video machines and screens that will enhance the experience of visitors.

Timpson said most of the exhibits have already been constructed elsewhere and just have to be set up inside the museum.

"There's a 60,000-square-foot facility in Toronto and until three months ago it was still full of our stuff and we have 47,000 square feet of exhibit space," he said.

Timpson said while everything will be in place in the museum for its Sept. 20 opening, there will only be guided tours through part of the facility at that time because they "will have to manage the flow of the building."

But Timpson said the entire museum will be wide open to visitors a week later.

Museum staff already sit in a few floors of cubicles within a few metres of the facility's already iconic exterior windows.

The exhibit space itself, which is housed behind the Tyndall-stone walls, is still pretty bare, but workers are busy installing the infrastructure for the audiovisual systems and other exhibits. There are 275 actual physical exhibit objects, much fewer than in a traditional museum.

"We're not ahead, but we're not behind," Timpson said.

"If you walked through you'd think we have a lot of work to do, but we're right on schedule."

Bob Somers, of Scatliff and Miller and Murray landscape architects and planners, said the site's landscaping is a work in progress.

"The whole intent is to get as close to a tall grass prairie here as one can," Somers said.

"The seeding is primarily grasses. We're still dealing with weeds. The science of rehabilitation of a prairie is to do weed control before the planting. Then after planting, to keep the weeds at bay."

Somers said in the past, bison and prairie fires would have been sufficient in keeping weeds under control, but they would both be tough to have in downtown Winnipeg.

"It's very low-maintenance. Regular grass you would have to mow and maintain, but this will be very low maintenance," Somers said.

As for the weeds, Somers said they will be dealt with.

"It is part of the process. The roof here was seeded the fall before last (2012), but this was only seeded this spring and we know how bad this spring has been. We have a good start and we're pretty happy.

"By the end of next year this will be good."

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 30, 2014 B1

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Updated on Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 7:05 AM CDT: Replaces photo

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