Canadian Museum for Human Rights

Alfresco creates collaborative experience at Canada’s interactive Human Rights Museum.

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the first museum in the world solely dedicated to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights. Using multimedia technology and other innovative approaches, the Museum creates inspiring encounters with human rights appropriate for all ages, in a visitor experience unlike any other.


For the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, set to open in September 2014, collaboration is at the heart of the visitor experience. The Museum, which is 13 years in the making, is the culmination of contributions from dozens of community groups, human rights organizations, non-profits, disability rights advocates, educators and government officials, as well as thousands of individuals.

Designed to explore the subject of human rights and encourage reflection and dialogue, the Museum provides visitors with a unique interactive experience including a vast digital collection of recorded oral histories and dynamic, multimedia technology exhibits. Content is a collaboration between expert research-curators, as well as public engagement and a Human Rights Advisory Council.

“We knew from the onset that we needed an enterprise content management system that would allow us to store once and reference often,” said Scott Gillam, the Museum’s digital assets manager. “Whether we were delivering an in-gallery experience or something to a mobile device or to the web, we needed to be able to access our material from anywhere.”


The Museum chose Alfresco One to serve as its content repository – and to leverage its ingestion, imaging and archiving capabilities – primarily because of its functionality and agility, as well as its open source technology.

“When we started to look at enterprise content solutions, Alfresco was ultimately chosen because it was open source and fit with the spirit of the technology that we were deploying within the museum, and also within the broader context of the museum’s mandate of transparency and collaboration ” said Gillam.


Today, the Museum has over 6,500 images loaded into the Alfresco platform, as well as over 100 hours of high definition video – all complete with metadata, whether library science supported through Alfresco or within the archival collection.

“Ninety percent of our collection is born digital, so it really is a digital content experience platform,” said Gillam.

While a core team at the Museum will be using Alfresco directly, several tools have been built on top of the platform to allow curators to actually log into the system and swap out video images or add more materials to the experience.

All content from core collection systems are ingested in Alfresco using TSG’s OpenMigrate platform, automating the asset rendition process for audio, video, and images, providing a central repository to be accessed by exhibits and external sites such as the on-line museum collection. The Museum also implemented TSG’s HPI interface, to provide a means for bulk index born digital content, faceted search capabilities, and asset collection capabilities. With Alfresco, the Museum is also able to manage who has access to specific content.

“Given that our subject matter is very contemporary, our exhibits are always changing. Alfresco has been very helpful in terms of rights management,” said Gillam. “We have a lot of material that we will be making open to the public, as well as some that will only appear to researchers. Alfresco is very helpful in facilitating control of copyrighted material in order to allow access to users at every level.”

The Museum is also able to leverage Alfresco’s open source platform to continue to evolve with different technologies, said Gillam.

“In this kind of collaborative environment, regardless of the business case, the user community is very involved in the best interest of solving problems that we all have with enterprise content management,” he said. “Alfresco allows us to deliver an experience in which the museum informs the visitor, the visitor informs the museum, and visitors also get to inform other visitors. It’s not just a broadcast model, but really is interactive.”