Manitoba

Smiles, gasps as first visitors enter Winnipeg's human rights museum

Smiles and gasps were the reactions among the first members of the public to enter Winnipeg's Canadian Museum for Human Rights on Saturday.
Smiles and gasps were the reactions among the first members of the public to enter Winnipeg's Canadian Museum for Human Rights on Saturday. 2:15

Smiles and gasps were the reactions among the first members of the public to enter Winnipeg's Canadian Museum for Human Rights on Saturday.

They were among the 9,000 to score free tickets to four of the museum's galleries.

The rest of the galleries are not ready yet. There are 11 in total.

Even in the galleries open today some minor work may still be ongoing. 

Up until now, only officials and dignitaries have seen exhibits inside. 

The museum fully opens to the public paid admission Sept. 27. 

The CBC's Jillian Taylor was on the tour with the first visitors to get a glimpse.

She said the first gallery highlights 100 people who figured prominently in important human rights moments throughout history.

One of the artifacts is the ballot box from Nelson Mandela's election as the first black president of South Africa. 

Former Winnipeg mayor Glenn Murray, who is in town for the opening, recalled that the first meeting about the museum almost didn't happen. 

Murray was mayor when Izzy Asper first proposed the idea for a human rights museum.

Murray said Asper was not happy with the city's new smoking ban.

"Izzy didn't like this very much and had some very colourful language the day before," he said. "He almost didn't come to the office unless I gave him, as he called it, a 'dispensation' and suspended the smoking ban when he came down. It was a very fascinating conversation. It went on for an hour and a half and at the end of that we had agreed on the site."

Murray now lives in Toronto and is a member of the Ontario Legislature.