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Mandela: Struggle for Freedom open until August 25, 2019!

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Mandela exhibition extended until fall 2019 Family tour, school program, special events added to popular show

A museum gallery with large, yellow armoured truck emerging from one wall and rusty garbage-can lids hanging on the opposite wall.

Photo: CMHR, Aaron Cohen

News release details

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) announced today that its exhibition Mandela: Struggle for Freedom will be extended until fall 2019 due to an overwhelmingly positive response from visitors. A new guided family tour, self-guided school program and special events will also be launched to enhance the experience. The exhibition about Nelson Mandela and the struggle against racial segregation and repression in South Africa opened June 8, 2018 and had originally been scheduled to end January 6, 2019.

Link to video B-roll of the exhibition, with soundtrack (CMHR-Aaron Cohen)

Photo: CMHR, Jessica Sigurdson

The CMHR closes for its annual maintenance week on Sunday, January 6, then re-opens on January 15 with a special admission rate of $10 per person for the rest of the month, including the Mandela exhibition (regular adult rate is $21). Children aged 6 and under are free.

Visitor response to the exhibition has been highly positive in surveys, online engagement and in-gallery interaction. More than a third of visitors surveyed in the summer said they came to the Museum specifically because of the Mandela exhibition.

“I thought I’d have a quick look, I ended up spending two hours in this exhibit alone,” said one visitor on Twitter.

“Standing in the replica of his small, sparse prison cell with the shadow of Mandela on the wall moved me beyond words,” another shared on Instagram.

“My boy is learning about how your voice cannot be suppressed,” wrote another.

A new family-friendly, guided tour of the exhibition will be offered on Saturdays, beginning in February. Visitors will interact with three in-gallery activities and also visit other areas of the Museum where Mandela’s influence is recognized.

New self-guided programs for school classes will also be available in February, centred on Mandela’s struggle against racial discrimination and its parallels to Indigenous experiences in Canada. Teacher resources to help spark discussion, encourage self-expression and foster critical thinking are included.

The school programs are the first part of a larger educational initiative being developed by Dr. Dolana Mogadime of Brock University. Her mother’s story as a South African anti-apartheid activist is presented in the exhibition. Mogadime is the CMHR’s inaugural Scholar in Residence and has assembled a “Teaching Nelson Mandela” advisory committee tasked with creating curriculum material for schools across the country.

Several special events will also be held during 2019 in association with the exhibition, including an evening of conversation with Derek Nepinak, former grand chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, who recently spent 27 hours in the exhibition’s replica prison cell to reflect on Mandela’s 27 years in jail; an inter-generational panel discussion with Canadians who were anti-apartheid activists; and a film screening.

Photo: CMHR, Leif Norman

The Museum’s Boutique continues to sell an array of popular exhibition-related items, including colourful shwe-shwe fabric pillows made by Winnipeg’s One Nation Exchange sewing collective (which consists mainly of refugee women), Mandela t-shirts, vintage “Free Nelson Mandela” pins and – for children – Mandela paper dolls, colouring books and finger puppets.

Online, the new CMHR website at humanrights.ca/ Mandela features exhibition highlights and stories. An interactive experience for making anti-apartheid posters can also be found online, with the finished creation projected into the onsite gallery. Online visitors can also watch a video about people who were asked to spend 27 minutes in a replica of Mandela’s prison cell.

Mandela: Struggle for Freedom was developed in collaboration with the Apartheid Museum of Johannesburg, South Africa. The CMHR is grateful to The Asper Foundation, TD Bank Group, Air Canada for supporting this exhibition. The CMHR also thanks the many lenders whose loans bring this important story to life, including Robben Island Museum and political cartoonist Zapiro. 

“Your freedom and mine cannot be separated.” – Nelson Mandela

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High-resolution photographs are available upon request.

Media contacts

Maureen Fitzhenry