Located in the city that hosted the 1995 diplomatic accords that ended the three and half year-long Bosnian Civil War, the Dayton International Peace Museum is the result of peace – loving energy, funded as a non-profit and run by an all-volunteer staff that strongly promotes “nonviolent conflict resolution, social justice issues, international relations and peace.” Dedicated to advancing a worldwide culture of amity and friendship, it is also a very unique institution since it is only the second museum in the United States to take up such a cause – a fact largely due to the strong convictions of its founders. This educational establishment features temporary, permanent and traveling exhibits that laud the history and future prospect of nonviolent resolution to human dilemma throughout the world. For those hoping to foster the proactive means of ending senseless acts of terrorism, the message promoted by the organizers is clear and on the mark in a very relevant fashion.
The founders for the Dayton International Peace Museum are a collection of people richly steeped in the traditions of peaceable endeavors. Ralph and Christine Dull are lifelong devotees to peace activism and members of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), which has been working for international peace, justice and nonviolence since 1915. A teacher by trade, Christine served on the National Council of FOR for a period of 3 years, whereas Ralph, who is an Ohio farmer, has received awards for his commitment to environmental stewardship and authored a book on conflict resolution, entitled Nonviolence Is Not for Wimps: Musings of an Ohio Farmer. Together Ralph and Christine have co-authored Soviet Laughter, Soviet Tears: An American Couple’s Six-Month Adventure in a Ukrainian Village, which chronicles their 1989 trip to establish friendship with the citizens of the former Soviet Union. Other founders include the writer J. Frederick Arment, who is also an educator and marketing planner, and the ceramic artist and graphic designer Lisa Wolters. A former police officer and Veteran for Peace, Steve Fryburg is not only a co-founding pioneer of the museum but has also served as its director for many years. The Dayton Peace Museum, Inc., legally designated as a non-profit in the State of Ohio, officially opened its doors on May 27, 2004 as a “place to learn, contemplate, dream, and work for realization of a more peaceful world.” The founders combined their own private savings with a $10,000 grant from the Dayton People’s Fund to bring Christine Dull’s initial 2003 dream to fruition.
Housed in a Victorian style building known in the Dayton area as the Pollack House, the museum serves the more traditional purpose of including displays that relate to peace and the propagation of peace, but also as a municipal center of activities for those who choose to discuss, learn and promote amity on the local, national, and international level. Programs sponsored by the museum are both educational and cultural in nature, striving “through a multi-sensory and multi-pronged approach, to present and inspire a peaceful alternative to the culture of violence so prevalent in our society.” Efforts reach out to school age children, at-risk youth in detention centers or social service programs, victims and perpetrators of domestic violence, church groups, universities, teachers, parents, and social service workers. Center stage in their efforts is program entitled “Peace-Abilities,” an experiential program for both young and old that demonstrates how feelings can lead to conflict and violence with other people when left unmanaged, but which can also take on the greater powers of healing and reconciliation when channeled respectfully and appropriately.
Exhibits within the museum are both temporary and permanent, but in each case the intent is to “inform, inspire and instigate” further interest and involvement in the dissemination of peace. Each display involves information, related points of discussion, and supplemental follow-up activities to broaden the museum’s impact on the visitor – for the three instructive levels of elementary children, intermediate students, and young adults. Permanent exhibits include one in the “Dayton Room” that is dedicated to the lifelong endeavors of Sister Dorothy Stang, a member of the Catholic religious order of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur – who spent many years as a proponent of ecology in the rainforests of Brazil fighting against deforestation. Although committed to nonviolence and worldwide peace, Sister Dorothy was brutally murdered on February 12, 2005, thereby making the exhibit an impassioned commemoration to her memory as well. Temporary displays have included an exhibition entitled “Faces of Iran,” which incorporated photographs taken in that country by founding member Steve Fryburg and the video “Iran, Yesterday and Today” produced by travel expert Rick Steves. Efforts by the Dayton International Museum of Peace also include a devoted element of outreach in the form of the Peacemobile, a “classroom van” designed for the purpose of transporting mobile exhibits to interested organizations throughout the immediate area of Dayton, Ohio.
The cornerstone in the museum’s philosophy is the realization of common ground and mutual respect for all people “no matter what creed race, religion, idea, or other areas of the diverse worldwide peace community they represent.” Research on the subject of promoting “tolerance” amongst the variety of cultures in the world strongly agrees with this ideal, indicating that terroristic violence stems in many respects from prejudice, cultural misunderstanding, religious narrow mindedness, and related fear. As noted by the Berghof Foundation for Conflict Studies (BFCS), founded by the German chemist and peace activist Georg Zundel in 1971, increasing the international awareness of tolerance is a direct avenue to conflict reduction, the advancement of democracy and human rights, and the ultimate promotion of non-violence and peace. Laura Bush, who was the First Lady in the White House at the time of the 911 attacks, has listed it as the primary “moderating influence” in the eradication of worldwide terrorism. Undeniably, the founders of the Dayton International Museum of Peace should be praised for their commitment to this precept. You can show your support for worldwide tolerance and peace by clicking on the link below and signing the petition to which this website is dedicated.
You can help promote the establishment of a monument dedicated to all American victims of terrorism, whether they died at home or abroad, by clicking the link above and signing the petition. Nothing is asked but your signature for a good cause.