A museum gallery containing a large circular structure with horizontal wooden slats; glass cases containing artifacts; and projections on the wall. Partially obscured.

Photo: CMHR, Aaron Cohen

Exhibition details

Museum exhibits strive to connect each visitor to human rights. The Museum’s 10 core galleries contain diverse stories, from Canada and around the world, relayed through interactive presentation, multimedia technology and world‐class design. An amazing encounter with human rights awaits!

What Are Human Rights?

A large crowd in a Museum gallery. Most people are looking at a display on the wall of the gallery. The display consists of a series of pictures and of long rectangular text panels placed horizontally.
Photo: CMHR, Aaron Cohen

An introduction to human rights

Throughout history, people have grappled with ideas about human dignity, respect and responsibility. Today the term “human rights” generally refers to the rights and freedoms we have simply because we are human. It’s an idea thousands of years in the making. 

In this gallery, we are immersed in a multimedia show featuring people speaking about their own perspectives on human rights. A timeline presents 100 selected moments in human rights history throughout the ages and around the world.

Indigenous Perspectives

People in a Museum gallery explore tall wooden panels with wildlife and Métis beadwork. There are curved horizontal wooden slats to the right.
Photo: CMHR, Chronic Creative

Expressing rights and responsibilities

First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples have concepts of rights and responsibilities based on worldviews in which everyone and everything is interrelated.

In one of the most dramatic spaces of the Museum, the focus is a circular theatre of curved wooden slats, some of which include original works of art. The theatre will play a 360‐degree film that shares stories of Indigenous rights and responsibilities, as told through four different generations.

Canadian Journeys

A large crowd in a museum gallery. There is a curved bench in the centre of the room. The display consists of a series of portraits above alcoves each containing a different exhibit.
Photo: CMHR, Aaron Cohen

Countless stories, countless journeys

There have been steps and missteps on the road to greater rights for everyone in Canada. This panorama of experience reflects continuing efforts to achieve human rights for all. 

This gallery, the largest of the Museum, explores dozens of Canadian stories, from democratic rights to language rights, from freedom of conscience to freedom from discrimination. A digital canvas relays stories across a 29‐metre screen, while others are told in floor stations and story niches.

Protecting Rights in Canada

Six people in a museum gallery stand around a circular counter with video screens both embedded in the counter and hanging above them.
Photo: CMHR, Ian McCausland

Canada’s evolving legal framework

Canada’s unique legal system has evolved to protect human rights. It has been likened to a living tree for its ability to grow and adapt to new realities. Important original documents are displayed in this gallery, including the Proclamation of the Constitution Act, 1982.

A digital “living tree” projection evokes the constant evolution of laws. Around a circular table, we explore pivotal court cases from different perspectives.

Examining the Holocaust

Two people explore a museum gallery containing images, artifacts, text and interactive screens.
Photo: CMHR, Ian McCausland

The fragility of human rights

When the Nazi government used laws and violence to deprive people of their rights as citizens and humans, and the majority went along, genocide was the horrific result. We examine the Holocaust to learn to recognize genocide and try to prevent it.

The “broken‐glass” theatre examines Canada’s own experiences with anti‐Semitism. 

Turning Points for Humanity

People explore a gallery containing vertical interactive videos in the centre of the room; and displays containing text and images that line the back wall.
Photo: CMHR, Aaron Cohen

Collective action and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The idea that rights belong to us just because we are human—no matter who we are or where we live—was adopted in 1948 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. People continue to work tirelessly to make this great hope a reality. 

Large digital monitors, in the shape of open books, explore how people working together have gained new protections for human rights. 

Breaking the Silence

Museum visitors are looking at a large rectangular table, the surface of which is a touchscreen.
Photo: CMHR, Aaron Cohen

Speaking out on human rights violations

Words are powerful. When people dare to break the silence about mass atrocities, they promote the human rights of everyone. 

This gallery explores the role of secrecy and denial in many atrocities around the world. It includes a focused examination of the Ukrainian Holodomor, the Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust, the Rwandan Genocide and the Srebrenica Genocide in Bosnia. The centrepiece is a digital study table that presents images and documents related to mass human rights violations.

Actions Count

Six museum visitors observe a light table. Coloured back-lit images are on the wall.
Photo: CMHR, Ian McCausland

Canadians who are making a difference

Be inspired by Canadians taking action on human rights at school, in communities and around the world. The individual choices we make every day can make a difference. 

This gallery includes an interactive table prompting reflection on how the choices we make in everyday life affect others.

Rights Today

Two people interacting with one of two video screens in a museum gallery. There are images of people and coloured text blocks on the wall.
Photo: CMHR, Chronic Creative

Human rights in the contemporary world

Human rights are ever‐changing in our interconnected world. How should we respond? Awareness, critical thinking and deep understanding help us determine effective action. 

Bringing us face‐to‐face with contemporary human rights struggles and action, this gallery features an interactive wall map, a tapestry of human rights defenders and a small theatre to make us think critically about what we watch and read.

Inspiring Change

Museum visitors observe a glass display containing images and objects.
Photo: CMHR, Chronic Creative

Promoting dialogue and participation

What do human rights mean to you? Respect for others? Dignity for all? Equality and freedom? Ideals become real through action, imagination and commitment.

Intended to spark personal reflection on how each of us may contribute to positive social change, this gallery incorporates objects and images from events that have promoted human rights, and asks us to contemplate our own role in building a better world for all people.