CMHR visitation surpasses projections: Annual Public Meeting

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News release details

Visitation since September has surpassed initial projections, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) reported today at its annual public meeting, the first to be held inside the Museum.

The Museum welcomed 58,360 visitors in October and November through ticketed admission, booked events and customized programs, memberships, Museum public programming, and visits to the Boutique and ERA Bistro. Along with about 45,000 people who visited in September (including facility rentals, opening ceremonies, public preview tours and other events), total visitation numbers have now topped 100,000.

Annual visitation had been projected at 250,000 – or about 20,000 per month.

"The change that has taken place in the course of one year is striking," said Eric Hughes, chair of the board of trustees. "The Museum is now welcoming thousands of visitors from all over the world. Each visit is an opportunity to discover something new, to explore a different human rights theme, and to learn from the diverse perspectives of Canadian and international human rights defenders."

In November, visitors from outside Manitoba made up 30 per cent of ticketed admissions. Of those, a third came from outside Canada, including the United States, Korea, Brazil, Belgium, China, Israel, Iceland, The Philippines, El Salvador, Mexico, Japan, Poland and Bosnia. 

After an official opening ceremony on September 19, 2014 and a weekend of free public tours, performances and activities, the Museum welcomed its first paid, ticketed visitors on September 27, with entry via guided tours through five galleries. On November 12, all 11 galleries were opened for the first full day of regular operations, allowing visitors to explore on their own or as part of a tour.

"This building has seen very little down time since our opening weekend," said CMHR interim president and CEO Gail Stephens. "We host visitors day and night, seven days a week. And each day, our exhibitions provoke conversation and reflection about human rights."

The CMHR also reported today that it has reached 2,779 members, including 958 who have joined as part of a family membership. Sales trends are spiking sharply higher with the onset of the holiday season: for memberships, tickets and the unique merchandise from the Museum's Boutique.

Facility rentals are also proving highly popular for functions, receptions and seminars hosted by corporations and organizations. Between September 15 and December 1, the Museum accommodated 130 events in six different venue rental spaces, with another 30 booked for the month of December.
"Revenue from booked events will constitute about 18 per cent of Museum earnings if these trends continue to the end of March 2015," CMHR Director of Earned Revenue and Visitor Services Jacques Lavergne told the public at the meeting.

Museum leaders outlined several priorities for 2015 and beyond, including: 

  • recruitment of a President and CEO; 
  • launch of development strategies for a new main‐floor temporary gallery and a 350‐seat theatre; 
  • welcoming the first school groups in January 2015 for facilitated programs (registration to date of 8,000 students in 567 classrooms);
  • ongoing efforts to promote the CMHR as a tourism and educational destination through collaboration with tourism and education partners, marketing and pro‐active earned media opportunities;
  • the launch of a National Student Program as part of a broader effort to become a national and international centre for human rights education; 
  • Ongoing collaboration with tourism partners to promote the CMHR as a tourism destination across Canada and internationally.

Examples of achievements since the December 2013 annual public meeting are listed on the attached backgrounder. 

In honour of International Human Rights Day, admission to the Museum is free today and operating hours have been extended until 9 p.m. A citizenship ceremony with Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Province of Manitoba will be held in the Museum at 1:30 p.m. Artisans will be present in the Museum's Boutique to showcase their unique creations tied to human rights themes. Throughout the evening, visitors can enjoy Indigenous performances and programming co‐presented by the Host Committee for the Assembly of First Nations Special Chiefs Assembly. 

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the first museum in the world solely dedicated to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights. It is the first national museum in Canada to be built outside the National Capital Region. Using immersive multi‐media technology and other innovative approaches, the Museum will create inspiring encounters with human rights as part of a visitor experience unlike any other.

Maureen Fitzhenry
Media relations manager
Cell: 204–782-8442


CMHR achievements since December 2013 annual public meeting include:

Completion and opening of the Museum galleries and exhibits, which include 100 hours of video; three feature films; an immersive multimedia experience; 26 small format films; 37 large‐scale linear media projections; 512 video clips; over 300 artifacts and works of art; 2,543 images; two soundscapes; 18 mixed‐media exhibit alcoves; 19 digital interactive elements; 100,000 words of original text; six theatres.

Developing museum programming and tours for students and general public.

Moving staff into Museum office spaces from a temporary work location. 

Recruitment of dozens of frontline staff, including program interpreters and visitor services representatives.

Recruitment and training of 300 volunteers.

Coordinating opening ceremonies and inaugural weekend activities of performances, programs and tours involving more than 10,000 people on September 19 to 21.

Unveiling a Canada Post stamp that features the Museum.

Opening the Museum's Boutique.

ERA Bistro in the Museum opened by owners Inn at the Forks/Sparrow Hotels.

Launching a new website, that now includes online purchasing for tickets and memberships.

Hosting over 100 international travel writers in August for a reception during the Canadian Tourism Commission's (CTC) annual media conference, GoMedia.

Ensuring CMHR visibility at key travel‐tourism events, including the Travel Media Association of Canada's annual conference, RendezVous Canada for travel trade operators, and the CTC's Canada Media Marketplace in the U.S.

Launching a series of promotional TV spots that ran 15,000 times between June and October on various networks and regional stations across Canada and the U.S. as free public service announcements.

Announcing a major art commission with Canadian artist Rebecca Belmore, whose massive clay‐bead installation, Trace, now hangs in the Indigenous Perspectives gallery.

Welcoming its first travelling exhibit – "Peace the Exhibition" – developed by the Canadian War Museum.

Hosting over 1,000 people for the Juno Awards welcome reception in March.

Holding a series of educators' open houses to familiarize teachers with the Museum's premise and content.

Working with the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Education to host a human rights summer institute for teachers called "The Fourth R".

Together with the Canadian Teachers' Federation, launching an online human rights toolkit for Canadian educators, containing teacher‐tested classroom resources on dozens of topics, searchable by keyword.

Growing the Museum's collection of video‐recorded oral histories with human rights defenders, which now includes 185 diverse stories.

Hosting the first lecture series, Fragile Freedoms, in the Museum in partnership with the University of Manitoba and CBC "Ideas".

Participating in public events in Ottawa and Winnipeg to mark the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide.

Welcoming over 300 people to a special exhibit and public event in October 2014 about the 100th anniversary of the Komagata Maru incident, in partnership with the Sikh Heritage Museum of Canada.

Hosting an event in November 2014 for content contributors and human rights defenders whose stories are featured in the Museum.

Announcing the Museum's first international education agreement, with the International Human Rights Institute for Peace (2idhp), located in Caen, in northwestern France.

Signing a partnership agreement to promote human rights education with The Asper Foundation, that will see Canadian students travel to Winnipeg including a visit to the CMHR as part of TAF's Human Rights and Holocaust Studies Program.

Establishing a partnership with Ryerson University's School of Disability Studies to display a unique exhibit on disability rights and cooperate on activities such as developing educational material, coordinating speakers and workshops, research, testing and advice.