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Renaissance City:


 Manitoba’s Capital Set to Unveil Trio of New World-class Experiences

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada - The prairie city of Winnipeg is in the throes of a golden era. The opening of Journey to Churchill, a new $90-million dollar zoo exhibit; the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the first national museum built since 1967;  and Thermëa, a luxury Nordic-themed spa, are solidifying Winnipeg’s reputation as Canada’s cultural oasis.

View video: Winnipeg is where Canada's Heart...Beats

‘Journey to Churchill’ sets world standard for Arctic zoo exhibits

‘Journey to Churchill’ opens July 3, 2014 at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. The sprawling 10-acre permanent exhibit showcases Northern Manitoba, allowing visitors to connect with arctic species and landscapes, including going "nose to nose" with a polar bear.

“This is certainly the largest zoo project in Canada in the last 25 years,” said Don Peterkin, chief operations officer for the Assiniboine Park Zoo. “Journey to Churchill will be the #1 polar bear Arctic exhibit anywhere in the zoo world.”         

Visitors to ‘Journey to Churchill’ will travel through three distinct zones. In the boreal forest-like Wapusk Lowlands, watch snowy owls swoop above, while caribou and musk ox graze and arctic fox play in grasslands.

Gateway to the Arctic’s showcase piece is the Sea Ice Passage, an underwater viewing tunnel for watching polar bears and ringed seals frolic. In separate pools divided by an acrylic wall, the predator and prey are still able to see and smell each other. Visitors to this zone also experience the 360-degree Aurora Borealis Theater.

Churchill Coast offers a re-creation of the famous northern Manitoba town, and here visitors can watch polar bears congregate, just as they do along the Hudson Bay coast. The attached International Polar Bear Conservation Centre is a world-class research facility caring for orphaned and at-risk polar bears. Visitors dining at the Tundra Grill restaurant will be able to watch polar bears roam. The Polar Playground contains ice caves, super slides and a wall-sized icicle xylophone for children.

General admission to the Assiniboine Park Zoo, including Journey to Churchill exhibit: $10.75 adults, $8.65 seniors/youth, $6.95 children.

On the horizon: Architectural gem offers a home for human rights education

The new icon on Winnipeg's landscape, officially opening September 20, 2014, is the extraordinary Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) and its crowning Tower of Hope.

The CMHR is the first national museum built since 1967 and the first established outside of Ottawa, Canada’s capital. Both its narrative, which showcases the concept of human rights from multiple perspectives, and its groundbreaking architecture make the CMHR an attraction for national and international visitors.

“The museum will use immersive multi-media technology and other innovative approaches to create an inspiring encounter with human rights,” says President and CEO Stuart Murray. “It’s unlike any museum visitors have experienced before.” 

Much has been made about CMHR’s wow-inducing design: the 24,155-square-metre building is an architectural and construction wonder. The content is created to inspire as well. Eleven dynamic galleries have been designed by master exhibitor Ralph Appelbaum Associates, four of which are listed here:

  • Indigenous Perspectives is one of the most dramatic galleries in the museum: a circular theatre of curved wooden slats, with a woven basket-like appearance, will showcase a 360-degree film and serve as a space for storytelling and discussion on Aboriginal views of humanity’s responsibilities to each other and to the land.
  • Canadian Journeys is the museum’s largest and flagship gallery. A 96-foot screen tops a suite of 18 exhibit niches that relay human rights stories using objects, text, digital media, sound and art. Floor stations challenge visitors through an activity with coloured lights that shine on them, and as they interact, ultimately form a vibrant rainbow.
  • Breaking the Silence explores the role of secrecy and denial in many atrocities around the world such as the Ukrainian Holodomor, the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide and the Srebrenica genocide in Bosnia.
  • Rights Today brings visitors face-to-face with contemporary human rights struggles and action, featuring an interactive wall map, a tapestry of human rights defenders, and a media literacy theatre.

The journey through the museum is a visual metaphor for the spiritual transition from darkness towards light: visitors enter an earthy, subterranean space, and make their way up through the galleries along an illuminated ramp of Spanish alabaster. The journey culminates in the 100-metre Tower of Hope, flooded with natural light. Guests descend via a glass elevator to the final experience: the calm Garden of Contemplation. This basalt rock-strewn space of light, greenery and water is for quiet reflection.

General admission to the CMHR (taxes included): $15 adults, $12 seniors/students, $8 youths, free for children under seven.

Dip into Nordic wellness: Thermëa, the new spa on the prairies

Opening late summer 2014, Thermëa (from Quebec-based Le Nordik spa brand) brings the first Scandinavian-style retreat to Winnipeg's top-notch spa scene. Warm up in the Finnish sauna or Norwegian steam bath, dip under a cold water fall or into an icy pool, and then settle in to the relaxation lounge. As guests repeat this "hot, cold, relaxation" cycle, their moods shift from exhilaration to relaxation.

The $9.5 million Thermëa will be open year round, which in Winnipeg means a different experience with each season. In summer, lounge outdoors on Adirondack chairs, chaises or hammocks in a lovely garden setting. In fall, wrap up in warm bathrobes and relax around an outdoor fire. Admiring a snowy outdoor scene through a rustic glass-fronted chalet is the unique winter experience.

Thermëa, only 15 minutes from downtown, is set among the forest of Crescent Drive Park
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