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Dr. Catherine Chatterley

Dr. Clint Curle

Canadian Museum for Human Rights


Dr. Catherine Chatterley & Dr. Clint Curle, April 3, 2013


Dr. Curle generously offered to answer Dr. Chatterley’s questions about the Holocaust gallery in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) for an article she is publishing on the history of Holocaust memorialization in Canada. The Winnipeg Jewish Review thanks both scholars and the museum for permission to re-print the following interview.


Dr. Chatterley: Can you please tell me how the creators of the CMHR define the museum as an institution.


Dr. Curle: The CMHR was created as a National Museum to provide a place for Canadians and people from all over the world to explore the subject of human rights, to promote respect for others, and to encourage reflection and dialogue. The aim of the Canadian Museum for Human Right is to foster an appreciation of human rights, spur informed dialogue, and invite visitors to identify the contemporary relevance of human rights events of yesterday and today. It is a place where people can truly feel that they have a direct stake in helping to protect and advance human rights.


Dr. Chatterley: How is a museum that teaches the public about genocides, the Shoah, and the development of human rights not by definition a history museum?

Dr. Curle: It is a question of how historical content is framed.  Many historical museums take the presentation of the past as an end point.  This look to the past is especially common in institutions devoted to memorialization (a completely valid museological approach).  As a human rights museum, our mandate is forward-looking.  This does not mean that we will not present (or responsibly contextualize) historical material, but that our emphasis is on the present and the future.  How did (and do) these historical events inform understandings of human rights and human dignity?


Dr. Chatterley: Please explain why there is a Holocaust gallery in the CMHR.

Dr. Curle: The organizational framework for the museum has evolved over time.  One of our challenges has been to conceptually locate the Holocaust and the UN Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in the Museum.  The historical proximity of these two events suggeste

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.