The Idea of a Human Rights Museum as a Workshop!

The McNally Robinson Community Classroom presents The Idea of a Human Rights Museum a course presented by Karen Busby.

Dates: October 13, 20, 27, November 3
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Cost: $100 for four Tuesdays
Advance registration required

Register online at Or call the store at 204-475-0483 or register in-person at McNally Robinson Booksellers, 1120 Grant Avenue.

The Architecture of Human Rights. Renzo Piano has said that “architecture is not just the art of making buildings; it is also the art of telling stories.” A museum’s building is, therefore, also its most permanent exhibit. What does the CMHR building tell us about human rights?

Indigenous Perspectives at the CMHR. Given the persistence of settler colonialism in Canada, the museum faces real challenges concerning how to present Indigenous content. Scholar Ruth Phillips has challenged museums to confront the violence and trauma associated with Canada’s treatment of Indigenous peoples, contemplate redress and express a call to action. Does the CMHR live up to this challenge?

Canadian Human Rights Stories. The CMHR aspires to ensure that visitors gain a deeper understanding of Canada’s complex and, at times, contradictory history as it relates to social justice and human rights and the factors that make Canada’s human rights culture special. One challenge all human rights museums face are to ensure that they are not used by governments as political instruments to promote the interests of the state. Is the CMHR a fora for dialogue to enrich civil society or is it pawn in the government’s hands?

Inspiring Action. A billboard campaign during the construction phase of the CMHR announced that “Most museums explore the past. This one changes the future”. In what ways does the museum’s inaugural exhibits issue a call to action?

Karen Busby is a professor of law and the director of the Center for Human Rights Research at the University of Manitoba. She teaches constitutional law and human rights law. Together with Andrew Woolford and Adam Muller she is the coeditor of The Idea of a Human Rights Museum forthcoming from University of Manitoba Press.