Ralph Applebaum Associates

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Canadian Museum for Human Rights

Winnipeg, Canada

Canadian Museum for Human Rights 2
Canadian Museum for Human Rights 3

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the first museum in the world solely dedicated to the evolution, celebration, and future of human rights. Its aims are to provide a national hub for human rights learning and discovery, and to launch a new era of global human rights leadership.

Canadian Museum for Human Rights 7
Canadian Museum for Human Rights 7

The museum’s signature architecture creates a path for the visitor from darkness to light. The journey starts in the museum’s “roots,” which rises up from the ground of The Forks, a national historic site that has served as a meeting place for thousands of years. Visitors ascend through the galleries via a series of ramps, encountering human rights stories and the people who lived them along the way. The path leads visitors into the Tower of Hope, a 23-story illuminated beacon symbolizing enlightenment.

Canadian Museum for Human Rights_Universal Declaration
Canadian Museum for Human Rights_Universal Declaration

RAA planned and designed the permanent exhibition, which is spread over eleven galleries. Visitors are introduced to core concepts of human rights across cultures and time. Indigenous principles of rights and responsibilities are explored. A look at Canada’s human rights journey highlights struggles and achievements in developing its human rights culture and legal systems. Other galleries focus on the Holocaust and genocide, the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the work of the United Nations. Contemporary topics are featured in a gallery that includes stories about the work of today’s human rights defenders.

Canadian Museum for Human Rights Feedback Interactive
Canadian Museum for Human Rights Interactive
Canadian Museum for Human Rights Interactive

In designing the project, RAA sought to transform an abstract concept of human rights into tangible understanding of what human rights are, can be, and should be.

Year 2014

Size 4,366 square metres

Architect Antoine Predock ArchitectArchitecture 49 (formerly Smith Carter Architects)

AwardsInternational Design and Communication Award (IDCA): Gold, Best Scenography for a Permanent CollectionCreativity International Award: Gold, Environmental GraphicsEvent Marketer, Experience Design & Technology Award: Winner, Best Museum EnvironmentGOOD DESIGN® Award: Winner, EnvironmentsGraphis Design Annual: GoldIndustrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), International Design Excellence Award (IDEA): Finalist, Environments

Canadian Museum for Human Rights Intro Experience

Photography Ian McCausland/CMHR