Controversial Canadian Museum of Human Rights Opens

The Canadian Museum of Human Rights, Winnipeg Photo: Tony Hisgett via Wikimedia Commons

The Canadian Museum of Human Rights (CMHR) is officially opening on September 20th in Winnipeg, Manitoba after a decade of planning and controversy, Hyperallergic has reported.

The $351 million structure designed by Antoine Predock includes 47,000 square feet of gallery space and an imposing “tower of hope.” Predock previously designed the Tacoma Art Museum and Nelson Fine Arts Center at Arizona State University.

The construction of the CMHR has been a tumultuous process. The museum’s initial benefactor and planner Izzy Asper died suddenly in 2003. Continuous arguments have simmered over what the focus of the museum should be. Indigenous Canadians have protested the museum’s refusal to acknowledge their cultures’ destruction as genocide. And construction delays resulted from the discovery of thousand of indigenous artifacts on the land the museum now stands on.

Last month the CMHR finally announced the themes of its core exhibitions to the media, including galleries focusing on What are Human Rights?, Indigenous Perspectives, and the Holocaust. Exhibits in the initial hanging include a ballot box from South Africa’s first post-apartheid election in 1994 and stories of individuals who stood up for human rights such as Ethiopian free speech campaigner Ali Saeed.

The first temporary exhibition will focus on Peace and will begin with the museums opening on September 20th.

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