Manitoba

Canadian Museum for Human Rights goes on executive hiring spree

Five-and-a-half years after it opened at The Forks, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is going on a hiring spree for senior managers. The CMHR plans to hire three new senior executives over the next few months — while Ottawa decides whether to extend or replace the Winnipeg institution's president and CEO.

Winnipeg museum hiring 3 new execs; Feds to decide fate of CEO this summer

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is hiring three new senior executives. (Sara Calnek/CBC)

Five-and-a-half years after it opened at The Forks, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is going on a hiring spree for senior managers.

The CMHR plans to hire three new senior executives over the next few months — while Ottawa decides whether to extend or replace the Winnipeg institution's president and CEO.

The museum is in the process of hiring one new vice president in charge of exhibitions, curation and partnerships, a second VP responsible for programming and community engagement and a chief innovation officer, who will look after information technology and digital outreach. 

CMHR president and CEO John Young — whose own five-year term at the helm of the national museum expires on Aug. 16 — said the museum needs the trio of senior directors to increase admissions to the museum in Winnipeg, visits to its travelling exhibits and clicks on its online content.

"In the last five years, we've seen the museum has become part of the landscape, not only here in Winnipeg but in the country as well. And so we're looking to grow our visitation, both physically here at the museum but also our digital engagement," Young said Wednesday in an interview at the museum. 

According to the museum's 2018-19 annual report, the museum welcomed 291,346 visitors during that fiscal year, falling four per cent short of its target of 303,500.

Of those visits, 94,626 — or 31 per cent — were paid admissions, according to the annual report. The museum hoped to collect admission from 100,000 visitors that fiscal year.

Three years earlier, the museum expected fewer overall visitors, but more paid admissions. The museum's 2015-16 corporate plan called for 263,00 visitors, including 136,000 paid admissions.

Young said cultural institutions expect to see a drop in attendance after they open, and area residents get a chance to visit for the first time.

"When you open, you have a spike. It usually then takes about five years to get back to those levels and that's what we've found," he said. "Actually, our dropoff was a little less than predicted, but now we look to grow."

CMHR president and CEO John Young says the Winnipeg museum needs new senior executives to extend its digital reach and attract new visitors. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

The $351-million museum opened in September 2014. Its original president and CEO, Stuart Murray, was replaced by Young in 2015.

The museum operated on a $41.3-million budget in 2018-19 and posted a $431,000 surplus that fiscal year, according to its financial statements.

Federal funding accounted for $30.3 million of its revenue that year, with charitable donations adding up to $7.8 million and operating revenue, including admission fees, totalling $3.4 million.

According to the 2018-19 annual report, two thirds of the museum's paying visitors came from outside the Winnipeg market, which was defined as anywhere more than two hours away by road.

Young said that proportion climbs above 70 per cent during the summer. 

He said he wishes to to continue on in his role as president and CEO. The federal government will decide whether to appoint him to another term or replace him.

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