Look and touch

Five things that make the museum stand out


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THIS is not your grandparents' museum. Or your parents', for that matter. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is probably unlike any museum you've visited. Here are five reasons why:

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/09/2014 (3064 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.


THIS is not your grandparents’ museum. Or your parents’, for that matter. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is probably unlike any museum you’ve visited. Here are five reasons why:

1. There are far fewer physical objects

At last count, there were just 275 actual physical exhibit objects. The museum is not short on content, though. It houses seven theatres, an immersive multimedia experience, a 360-degree film and two soundscapes. It contains 100 hours of video, three feature films, 26 small-format films, 512 video clips, 2,500 images, 37 large-scale projections, 19 digital interactive elements and 100,000 words of original text.

2. Technology

The latest technology and multimedia innovations make the museum a cool place to go — in more ways than one.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS The Canadian Museum for Human Rights features primarily interactive displays, such as the indigenous beadwork instalation created by Jennine Krauchi and her mom, Jenny Meyer.

It reuses runoff water for toilets.

A smartphone app can be downloaded that acts as a museum guide.

Interactive kiosks called “insight stations” include a keypad designed for the museum by the Inclusive Design Research Centre at the Ontario College of Art and Design University. The universal keypad is accessible to people of all abilities and has become a guiding example for the United States government, European Union and other jurisdictions around the world.

3. Interactive displays

Rather than look but don’t touch, this museum is hands-on throughout.

For example, the third gallery — Canadian Journeys — has the Lights of Inclusion game, where visitors can interact with each other. The game, which encourages people to come together to direct blobs of projected coloured light, doesn’t require any instructions.

In the Protecting Rights in Canada gallery, visitors can re-judge 10 milestone human rights cases, including the Sue Rodriguez right-to-die case of 1993 and a 2005 battle involving a student who was the target of homophobic bullying.

In Turning Points for Humanity, there are giant digital books. Pairs of tall, floor-mounted monitors are set up like four large, open books with screens instead of pages visitors control using arm gestures.

In the Actions Count gallery, the It’s Your Choice game uses gesture-based technology with projected images. The choices visitors make individually and as a group are reflected in the human rights of the culture they create.

4. Accessibility

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities calls the museum “a beacon of access and inclusion” that sets new standards of inclusion, ensuring that not only is the disability-rights story told but that all stories are told in ways all can access. Multisensory technology and design expertise let everyone participate equally — whether blind or deaf, in a wheelchair, intellectually challenged or culturally diverse. It’s the most inclusive design in Canadian history and surpasses the standards of the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. No other Canadian institution has been able to approach this level of accessibility. The aisles are wide, and parking for the disabled is close to the ramp entering the building.

Jennine Krauchi

5. Content that can evolve as quickly as society does

With exhibits that contain relatively few physical objects and so much more new media, the museum can update and change displays with the stroke of a keyboard.

“The most innovative thing we’ve done in the museum is the system we’ve created behind the scenes to manage all our content,” said Corey Timpson, director of exhibits and new media. He called it the “Enterprise content manager system.”

“So if we needed to update or change content we can do it this afternoon and it would be live immediately. That’s something no visitor will see but something that allows the museum — dealing with such contemporary subject matter — to be that sustainable.”

— with file from Randy Turner


Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.


Updated on Friday, September 19, 2014 7:34 AM CDT: Replaces photo

Updated on Friday, September 19, 2014 7:37 AM CDT: Adds graphic

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