Interactive Exhibits for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) is set in a spectacular new building in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It aims to be a centre of learning that is ‘dedicated to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights.’ The building holds eleven thought-provoking galleries that are implemented using an approach to inclusive design that aims to set new Canadian and world standards for universal accessibility.
Gagarin had the honour of designing three interactive installations that contribute to the museum’s aim of creating an engaging experience with human rights that will inspire lasting and meaningful change in visitors.
Gagarin worked in close collaboration with the exhibit designer Ralph Appelbaum Associates (RAA).
Living Tree In a gallery called Protecting Rights in Canada, visitors are faced with a large poetic video projection of a “Living Tree”. The Living Tree evokes the flexible nature of Canada’s laws – it sheds light on the unique character of the Canadian Constitution and the traditions that have influenced it.
The video transitions by continuously blending words and paragraphs from documents, declarations and courts. It starts at the ground that is composed from international covenants on human rights. From there it forms the trunk to being the Canadian Constitution. Soon after, the branches that shoot outwards are listings of legal bodies and finally the foliage reveals acts that have directly affected the rights of Canadians.
It is an artistic and poetic piece that not only aims to provoke wonder and quiet contemplation, but also to leave visitors with the knowledge that by addressing current and future social needs and realities, the Canadian law can grow and change. The Living tree is built on a scalable software solution which allows immediate changes of text and flow of the animation.
We all can play a part in the legal system.
The Collective Actions exhibit features diverse and compelling stories of ground-level activism in a wide variety of human rights fields. The interactive exhibit consists of a series of 8 human rights topics displayed on 4×2 human sized monitors that resemble a diptych. Each diptych presents two discrete human rights issues for exploration.
Visitors use point-gestures in order to access the content and as the videos are displayed on large full 55’ screens, the face-to-face encounter between the narrator and visitor creates an intimate and firsthand sensation.
The hand gestures are recorded using a Kinect camera, which also enables an ‘attract’ feature that aims to encourage visitor engagement with the exhibit.
Whenever the exhibit is unattended, the images on the screens are blurred out. However, as a visitor approaches the exhibit, the images incrementally unblur until the visitor reaches the ‘hot spot’ whereupon the image will be clear and onscreen instructions will appear.
This “attract” feature sparks interest in the exhibit and suddenly the visitor is aware that their presence can in fact affect the installation.
Human Rights Defenders
The Defenders Exhibit highlights the remarkable achievements of a selection of Canadian personalities who are fighting actively against human rights abuses. Visitors are taken on a journey to learn about each Defender’s childhood, the events that shaped their, beliefs and continue to drive them to be active in fields as diverse as child labour, women’s rights and environmental justice.
The stories can be accessed through touchscreens, which allow visitors to easily and intuitively interact with the multimedia content. One can learn about Marina Nemat’s incredible escape from torture in post-revolutionary Iran, listen to anti-racism songs by Buffy Sainte-Marie which let her being blacklisted from radio, or watch Craig Kielburger travel to India at the age of 12 to protest against child slavery and upstage the Canadian Prime Minister at the time.
The exhibit aims to inspire visitors to seek further information or take action related to those issues that they feel are important to them.
- Creative Directors Hringur Hafsteinsson
- Art Directors Kristín Eva Ólafsdóttir
- Designers Kristín Eva Ólafsdóttir, Pétur Valgarð Guðbergsson, Samúel Jónasson, Magnús Elvar Jónsson, Michael Tran
- Illustrators Magnús Elvar Jónsson, Michael Tran
- Photographers –
- Editors –
- Copywriters CMHR
- Project manager Ásta Olga Magnúsdóttir
- Developers Samúel Jónasson, Pétur Valgarð Guðbergsson
- Content development Heimir Hlöðversson
- Interaction design Nils Wiberg