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The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the first museum in the world dedicated to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights. The museum is housed in a spectacular 240,000 square feet building and provides an engaging, interactive hub for human rights education and leadership.
Visitors follow an experiential multi-level path through eleven galleries that feature interactive stations, a 360⁰ theater, gesture-recognition and motion-tracking technology, immersive experiences, surround sound audio, touchscreen video and projection on a digital canvas.
Electrosonic, in partnership with Ralph Appelbaum Associates, SH Acoustics, Kubik Maltbie and Advance Pro, was responsible for the audiovisual design, build and system integration, project management and support for all eleven galleries.
Experiential technology is used throughout the museum, engaging the ‘digital generation’ in the themes and challenges of human rights.
The ‘Indigenous Perspectives’ gallery includes a 360⁰ theater where edge-blended video projection immerses the audience in concepts of rights and responsibilities. In ‘Canadian Journeys’ multiple projectors create a two-story digital canvas while 15 audiovisual ‘niches’ feature multimedia images.
In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights gallery, large floor-standing interactive ‘video books’ educate visitors about human rights topics. Visitors activate the gesture-based display by standing in a pool of light and pointing at the screen.
‘Lights of Inclusion’ uses motion-tracking technology to project colored bubbles of light onto visitors as they step onto a circular floor. As visitors move closer to each other and interact, their separate bubbles merge and change. The ‘Living Tree’ features a ‘poetic video’ that transitions by blending text from documents and statements from courts to show how laws evolve.
Audio plays a key role. The museum features compact linear speaker arrays, 2-D focusing arrays and bookshelf speakers to enhance the immersive experience. In the 360⁰ theater, speakers behind the screen are aimed down to create a ‘wide, exciting space’.
The museum’s goal was to translate abstract concepts of human rights into a tangible understanding of their importance using technology to engage the audience. The main challenge of this project was the unique architecture of the museum, particularly for audio installations.
In two of the theaters custom speakers are embedded in benches to fire sound to the row behind and time delayed to localize sound to the screen. In the 360⁰ theater, speakers fire down instead of across the room to diffuse the sound.
Developing the large number of installations for the museum’s galleries involved eleven different media firms in addition to other partners. Electrosonic used its experience of major venues to handle technical coordination and audiovisual design for all eleven galleries and also directed the audiovisual installation, working with Advance Pro. To meet the audio challenges, Electrosonic partnered with SH Acoustics to develop audio strategies and acoustic treatments tailored to the architecture of the gallery.
Partnership and technical coordination were key to the success of the project. Electrosonic fused storytelling and technology with the unique and challenging architecture of the building to create an engaging series of immersive, interactive installations.
The solution meets the aim of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, to create an engaging experience with human rights that will inspire lasting and meaningful change in visitors.