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Museum wins global award for hi-tech experiences

A man and woman look down at an illuminated table. In the background, there is a grouping of colourful posters on the wall.

Photo: CMHR, Aaron Cohen

News release details

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) has won a top award at the world’s most prestigious celebration of innovative digital projects by museums and cultural institutions.

The Museum was recognized Friday night at the annual GLAMi Awards in Boston, which showcase outstanding work to engage, inform and excite visitors in digital exhibition experiences and online. The CMHR had been named one of three finalists in three different categories for elements in its temporary exhibition Mandela: Struggle for Freedom, which runs until the end of this summer.

Other finalists in the same categories included the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Anne Frank House and Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, and the State Library of New South Wales. Finalists in other categories included world-renowned institutions such as The Smithsonian, the Art Institute of Chicago, King’s College London, the University of Oslo, and the Mexican Ministry of Culture.

“This recognition reinforces our place among the best in the world for use of cutting-edge technology and digital interactives, inspiring people to think and talk about human rights in new ways,” said CMHR president and CEO John Young. “This not only promises to continue attracting visitors from across the world to Winnipeg, but helps spread our human rights messages to a growing international audience.”

First-place award: Digital poster-making activity

This interactive experience in the Mandela: Struggle for Freedom exhibition invites visitors to create posters for human rights on a large-scale touchscreen table or remotely from their own devices and computers online. Once published, their posters appear in the museum gallery, projected alongside replicas of actual posters used in the fight against apartheid in South Africa.

Finalist: Immersive prison cell in Mandela: Struggle for Freedom

As an exhibition centrepiece, this replica of Nelson Mandela’s tiny South African prison cell uses motion-sensor technology that transforms it into a theatre when people walk inside. A silhouette of Mandela first appears in front of the visitor and an immersive projection cascades over the cell walls, telling five stories about the resilience and experiences of Mandela as a political prisoner for 27 years.

Finalist: “27 Minutes for 27 Years” campaign

For this marketing campaign promoting Mandela: Struggle for Freedom, the CMHR invited several Winnipeggers to spend 27 minutes (one minute for each year Mandela was imprisoned) in a white, eight-foot by seven-foot room the same size as his Robben Island prison cell. Their experiences inside the cell and their reflections afterwards were turned into powerful videos that have been seen more than 620,000 times.

Over the past five years, the CMHR has been honoured with more than 30 international, national and local awards for its exhibitions, technology, inclusive design, education, communications and architecture. For more information, check the Museum’s website.

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the first museum in the world solely dedicated to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights. Using multimedia technology and other innovative approaches, the CMHR creates inspiring encounters with human rights for all ages, in a visitor experience unlike any other. 

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Maureen Fitzhenry