Amazing gingerbread museum lights up family Christmas

Sunday, December 23, 2012

When Winnipegger Gerhard Wiebe set out to construct a gingerbread version of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights for Christmas, he knew he’d have an architectural challenge.

“The most difficult part was all the glass,” said Wiebe, a retired school teacher who taught English at Fort Richmond Collegiate. “My rule is that everything has got to be edible. Plastic would have been easy. But I had to make sugar glass and hang it from a framework.” 

The edible masterpiece was Wiebe’s 13th major project in gingerbread. But it’s the only one where he first needed to build a model, which he constructed ahead of time based on photographs he took of the Museum from every angle. 


CMHR Model

CMHR foam-board model


He then used the elaborate foam-board model to make templates for his gingerbread pieces. All up, the cake was a month in the making. 

Gingerbread pieces

Gingerbread pieces of the CMHR gingerbread house


It even lights up inside – which posed a small problem when the heat from the lights began to melt some of the royal icing. So, like the Museum itself, he needed to add some extra structural reinforcements.

“I’m interested in structures and poetry. This building itself has both of those aspects and that’s what really interested me.”


 Gingerbread CMHR

Gerhard Wiebe and his construction 


Wiebe’s daughter, Anna Weier, insisted he continue with the annual tradition – which has already produced gingerbread marvels of iconic Winnipeg churches like St. Boniface Cathedral and Westminster United Church (using melted Jolly Ranchers for stained-glass windows), and even the Taj Mahal.

“My daughter won’t let me quit because it’s now a tradition. We get a whole slew of people over for decorating. With this one, though, I was really nervous that I wouldn’t be able to finish it in time.”

The masterpiece is displayed in his living room during the Christmas season. On January 4, it will be on display at ArtsJunktion mb, 312 B William Avenue in Winnipeg. Afterwards, he’ll take it – as usual – to Rossbrook House in Winnipeg’s inner city.

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