Museums play an essential role… in preserving and promoting the heritage of Canada and all its peoples throughout Canada and abroad and in contributing to the collective memory and sense of identity of all Canadians… (Museums Act of Canada. http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/laws/stat/sc-1990-c-3/latest/sc-1990-c-3.html)
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) is a unique institution that will use collections to enhance our understanding of human rights, to illuminate personal experiences with rights issues, and to transform our perspectives. Human rights culture is expressed in both the tangible and intangible – in objects, documents, and art, and in ideas, memories, language and beliefs. It is captured in the stories of individuals and communities, in a country’s engagement in national and global human rights, and in the development of legislation.
The CMHR’s collections are defined to include these tangible and intangible assets and will play a valuable and integral role in supporting the exhibits, research, education, projects, web presence and programming of the Museum.
The collections will be a foundation for interactive and sometimes controversial exhibits. They will help make human rights personal and relevant.
They will contribute to the preserved collective memory and sense of identity of Canadians, thereby fulfilling our role as a national museum.
The Museum will also create, acquire and preserve born digital resources. Over time, it will develop a significant collection of oral histories and memories related to human rights and have already begun to establish this collection through our unprecedented cross-Canada story-gathering process. Once created, sophisticated search engines will provide visitors and researchers with broad and specific access to both the born digital resources and also written original memoirs with photographs, images, diaries and letters, published materials, and commercial and
museum-produced media as well as related physical artefacts and artworks.
Although storage of digital resources may be less expensive, this is not the main reason for ‘going digital’. Certainly, access to all resources is
aided by technology. However much human
rights evidence is now in digital format and
visitors will access not only the Museum’s own born digital resources, but also human rights resources worldwide.
While physical objects have a role to play in the museum, the stories that embody human rights ideas and experiences are paramount. Preserving the words, the look, the voice and the moving image will paint vibrant pictures which convey powerful human rights messages enhanced by important physical objects.
The stories of individuals and groups along with their thoughts and ideas illustrate multiple perspectives. They also provide an opportunity to identify gaps in our understandings, allow new human rights insights to emerge, and contribute
to the body of human