Unique CMHR theatre to feature immersive “surround” technology

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Museum holds annual meeting on International Human Rights Day

The Indigenous Perspectives theatre was showcased at the CMHR annual public meeting, held today on International Human Rights Day, as an example of the Museum's immersive multimedia elements.

"Canada's new national museum will create inspiring encounters with human rights using a range of 'wow' factors to connect people to information and ideas in powerful ways," CMHR president and CEO Stuart Murray said during today's meeting at the Manitoba Theatre for Young People.

To date, only a few other venues in the world, such as Disney's Epcot Centre and France's Arromanches war memorial, feature similar technology. The CMHR circular theatre is a small, gallery cinema that seats about 25 people at a time. It is one of seven theatre spaces in the Museum.

Designed to present an original "surround" film about Indigenous Peoples' concepts of humanity, the theatre will also serve as a space for storytelling, performance and discussion. Wooden "spirit panels" on the theatre's exterior reflect perspectives and traditions of 156 Aboriginal youth from across Canada, who participated in workshop programs held this fall with artists and Elders in every province and territory, organized in partnership with the National Association of Friendship Centres.

"The views of Indigenous Peoples are extremely important to our overall visitor experience — not only in this remarkable theatre, but also in stories about Aboriginal experiences that are woven throughout every gallery," Murray said.

The CMHR will open to the public on September 20, 2014. Base construction is complete and exhibit installation is now underway.

Corey Timpson, CMHR director of design, new media and collections, said the Museum's amazing multi‐media components are only one part of the overall visitor experience.

"What we're creating are multi‐dimensional exhibits using a variety of techniques and media styles to tell human rights stories," he said. "We'll have passive experiences where people read, watch and listen. We'll have active experiences such as games.

We'll have interactive experiences where we ask people to contribute. We'll have immersive experiences where visitors engage in multi‐sensory environments. It will be a rich and meaningful journey accessible to people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds."

The Museum's galleries will include more than 100 hours of video, four documentary films, 26 small‐format films, 512 video clips, 37 large‐scale linear media projections, an immersive media experience, the 360‐degree film, over 2,500 images, two soundscapes, 18 mixed‐media story niches, 19 interactive games, over 160 objects and original works of art, and 100,000 words of original text.

Its visitor journey revolves around five guiding principles. At today's meeting, a panel of CMHR experts discussed aspects of their work related to each of these pillars – inspiration, Canadian pride, amazing architecture, ideas brought to life, and education. Speakers at the annual public meeting also shared highlights of the past year for the CMHR, and priorities for the next few months.

CMHR chief financial officer Susanne Robertson outlined the CMHR's financials, reported in the Museum's 2012–13 annual report. She noted that the project is well on track to be completed on schedule and within its $351‐million capital budget. Careful financial management ensured an operating surplus of $909,000 for 2012–13.

The CMHR 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 multimedia technology and other innovative approaches, the Museum will create inspiring encounters with human rights in a visitor experience unlike any other.

High‐resolution photos of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights are available to download and use from our FlickR page.

Download an image of the circular theatre model here

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Maureen Fitzhenry