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Winnipeg Free Press | 29Nov21012 | Mia Rabson

Rights museum aims for $3M per year from visitors

OTTAWA -- The Canadian Museum for Human Rights believes it can raise nearly $3 million a year from visitors once it opens its doors in 2014.

The CMHR's five-year corporate plan for the years 2012 through 2017 was tabled in the House of Commons last week. In the report, the museum estimates how much revenue it expects to raise from admission, the gift shop and food sales.

Those figures are $1.5 million annually from admissions and museum memberships, $600,000 a year from food sales, $700,000 a year from the gift shop and another $100,000 from miscellaneous donations.

"We did some benchmarks to allow us to start to project," said communications director Angela Cassie.

However, the museum is not prepared to release what it plans to charge for admission and annual memberships or how many people it expects will come through the doors each year. Previous estimates suggest at least 250,000 will visit.

Cassie said all estimates were based on "a lot of research, study and work," including comparisons to other museums.

The Manitoba Museum last year saw 279,684 visitors, including 84,000 students, and raised $753,989 in admissions. It brings in another $150,716 in annual memberships.

Canada's busiest museum, the Canadian Museum of Civilization (soon to be renamed the Canadian Museum of History) in Gatineau, Que., attracts 1.2 million visitors a year. Along with its sister museum in nearby Ottawa, the Canadian War Museum, it brings in $4.9 million annually in admission fees and $1.7 million from its gift shop.

Cassie said the museum will be prepared to announce its admission fees and visitor estimates sometime next year.

The CMHR is on track to have the base building substantially complete before the new year. Cassie said there is still some drywalling and stonework to do but the concrete, steel and glass work are complete. Cassie said now that the scaffolding has been removed from the glass cloud, it is starting to feel more real. The heat is on, there are painters and drywallers and people installing ceiling tile, and the indoor spaces are starting to take shape.

"Now when you're walking through the museum you suddenly stop in your tracks and see these spaces are really coming together," she said.

The museum was to open next year but construction delays and budget problems pushed the opening back at least a year and pushed the capital budget to $351 million from $265 million.

Now it's expected the museum will open no earlier than the summer of 2014. A recent advance from Ottawa of $35 million is helping the museum get over the final financial hurdles to complete the capital project. That money has to be paid back from future appropriations over a six-year period starting in 2018-19.

The corporate plan suggests expenses in the first year of operations will be $24.6 million. The federal government will cover $21.7 million of that and $2.9 million is coming from admissions, the gift shop and food sales.

However, that budget does not yet include the payment in lieu of taxes it must make to the City of Winnipeg. When the museum was first putting together its budget, it didn't realize it would have to pay city taxes. Private museums don't pay city taxes but federal museums do.

It's unknown how much that bill is going to be, but three years ago, it was estimated to be as much as $5 million.

The corporate plan notes the museum has paid $225,000 to the city for 2009, 2010 and 2011 and the federal government and the city are negotiating the amount the final payment will be once the museum is finished and open.

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Manitoba Museum:

Number of visitors in 2011-12: 279,684.

Revenues from admissions and memberships: $904,705.

Revenues from the gift shop: $217,482.

Entry fees: $6.50 for students/seniors/children, $8 for adults for one venue, $17 for students/seniors/children and $21 for adults for admission to the museum, science centre and Planetarium.


Canadian Museum for Civilization/ Canadian War Museum:

Number of visitors: 1.6 million.

Revenues from admissions: $4.9 million.

Revenues from the gift shop: $1.7 million.

Entry fees: Adults: $12 for one museum, $18 for two. Students/seniors: $10 for one museum, $15 for two.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 29, 2012 B1