The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) welcomed visitors from at least 85 countries last year, including people from every province and territory in Canada and every state in the USA.
Participants at the Museum’s Annual Public Meeting today heard that 66 per cent of its visitors travelled to Winnipeg from other locations. Seventeen per cent came literally from all around the world (see list of countries below*).
In onsite surveys, 97 per cent of visitors indicated they were satisfied or very satisfied with their experience, while 94 per cent said they left feeling inspired.
“The reputation of the Museum continues to grow as awareness builds across the country and around the world,” said CMHR President and CEO John Young, pointing to the CMHR’s depiction on the new $10 Canadian banknote, international media attention and relationships forged with some of the world’s leading cultural institutions. “We are thrilled at this global interest and working to expand our reach through digital technology, travelling exhibitions and off‐site programming.”
The predominance of five‐star reviews on sites such as Trip Advisor, Google and Facebook is encouraging feedback, he added. In addition, more than 70 travel writers, journalists and media outlets from outside Manitoba – including a crew from Amazing Race Canada – toured the Museum in 2018–19. Almost twice as many have visited so far in the current fiscal year, which ends March 31. In total, the CMHR welcomed just under 300,000 visitors in 2018–19, generated earned revenue of $3.4 million and is on track for similar numbers in the current year.
A few highlights of 2018–19
- Mandela: Struggle for Freedom – the first blockbuster travelling exhibition developed by the CMHR – opened in June 2018, becoming a popular visitor draw and basis for human rights conversations throughout its extended run. Its launch attracted the largest crowd to any public program since inauguration. The exhibition, created in partnership with the Apartheid Museum in South Africa, is now touring North America (currently in Kitchener‐Waterloo).
- The Bank of Canada launched a new $10 banknote into circulation in November 2018, featuring an image of the CMHR on one side and the profile of human rights defender Viola Desmond on the other. A major event was held at the Museum to launch the bill, which included Stephen Poloz, Governor of the Bank of Canada, and Wanda Robson, who is Desmond’s sister.
- The Museum was featured in the 2018 season of Amazing Race Canada during a year that saw over 4,000 media mentions of the CMHR across the country and around the world, including travel stories in publications like Time magazine, The New York Times, Maclean’s, The South China Morning Post and Architecture magazine.
- The Museum continued working to support the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Among these activities last year:
- A new Indigenous and Human Rights Executive Leadership Program was piloted with the University of Winnipeg, intended to help business executives and government officials promote reconciliation and human rights in their workplaces.
- An exhibit, co‐created with Indigenous elders and scholars about the oppressive nature of the Indian Act in Canada, was opened.
- The CMHR worked on a groundbreaking agreement based on Indigenous and Western legal principles for the Witness Blanket, a monumental art installation about Indian residential schools.
- Indigenous activist and former Manitoba Grand Chief Derek Nepinak spent 27 hours fasting in the Museum’s replica of Mandela’s jail cell and spoke at a subsequent public event.
- The President’s Lecture Series continued, featuring twice‐poisoned Russian dissident Vladimir Kara‐Murza. The world’s first Indigenous astronaut, John Herrington of the USA, spoke to students at the Museum. Other notable visitors included jailed Iranian‐Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari, Canadian Governor General Julie Payette, and anti‐landmines activist Jody Williams.
- The Museum launched a brand‐new web site as part of its Digital Dialogue Initiative to encourage human rights conversations across the country and around the world.
- Several public dialogue sessions were hosted, including one in Winnipeg with the Rohingya‐Canadian community and another in Halifax focused on human rights violations against Africville residents.
- The Museum dimmed and extinguished the lights on images of Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi because of her role in the genocide of the Rohingya people. An exhibition opened at the Museum about the Rohingya crisis in June 2019.
- The CMHR hosted the annual conference of the Federation of International of Human Rights Museums, attracting representatives of cultural institutions from all over the world.
*Visitors from around the globe
In the 2019 calendar year, the CMHR welcomed visitors from every province and territory in Canada, every state in the USA and from the following countries/regions:
Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czechia, Cuba, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Malawi, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Palestine, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Trinidad, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Looking ahead at 2020
- The Museum will celebrate Manitoba’s 150th anniversary with a student engagement initiative asking youth across the province to submit art projects about human rights and the future for an outdoor and indoor exhibition. ARTiculate Our Rights will be installed at The Forks and in the Museum’s Level 6 Expressions gallery.
- Students from across the country selected as “Canada’s Next Upstander” will visit the Museum as part of a campaign to create awareness among teachers about the CMHR’s first interactive online educational resource, called “Be an Upstander:”
- The Museum will begin restoration of the Witness Blanket, a monumental art installation made with over 800 items from survivors, communities, governments and churches associated with each of Canada’s 130 former Indian residential schools.