Dayton International Peace Museum - January 24, 2009
The words "Dayton" and "Peace" were seen together in public quite a bit at the end of 1995. That's when the Dayton Peace Accords were negotiated at nearby Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The idea of a Peace Museum in the city began to form in the summer of 2003 and, while there is no formal connection between the two, the recent spate of "Dayton Peace..." headlines was certainly fresh in Christine Dull's mind when the idea came to her. This isn't the country's first Peace Museum. The Chicago Peace Museum was opened in 1981 but it closed in 2007 with hopes of relocating. Reportedly, its exhibits are currently being displayed at various locations.

The Dayton International Peace Museum is very much open in a building that's rather interesting in its own right. Built on Third Street by wine merchant Isaac Pollack, the three-story 1876 house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 but had a change of address shortly thereafter when it was moved several blocks to its current location on Monument Street. The museum moved in in 2005.

Appropriately, many of the museum's displays are aimed at children. I was surprised at the number and variety of "co-operative games". The museum is staffed by volunteers and a couple of friendly fellows named Bill & Jim were on hand today. Bill gave me a very nice introduction to the museum and mentioned that "We may be the only organization actively teaching the Golden Rule and letting kids know that they should do it first." Exhibits with a local connection fill one room and include displays devoted to Dayton born Sister Dorothy Stang and Ted Studebaker from West Milton, Ohio. Stang was murdered in 2005 in Brazil where she had spent much of her life working to help poor farmers establish a sustainable lifestyle while protecting the rain forest. Studebaker was a conscientious objector who went to Vietnam as a agricultural worker helping, as did Stang, local farmers. He was killed in 1971 by North Vietnamese soldiers but the killing was an execution and much closer to a murder than a battlefield death. He loved music. The background music for the ABC News report of his death was Ted playing and singing Blowin' In The Wind.

The museum is filled with information. Pictures and descriptions of Nobel Peace Prize winners line hallways. Shelves of books pop up in several places and there is a "lending library" side to the museum. On the third floor, the last room of a tour contains a visual arts display entitled Little Boy/Fat Man and there are some photographs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki but the room isn't really about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It's about nuclear arms in the twenty-first century. The jars contain BBs that represent existing nuclear devices and the panel contains the information that just six "BBs" could "wipe out Russia". The smallest nuclear arsenal, that of Pakistan, has enough "BBs" to do that a dozen times over.

The last picture shows Rosa & Mo gazing, peacefully, of course, toward the front entrance. The two doves often have the run of the museum and I first encountered Mo -- or maybe it was Rosa -- standing atop some postcards in the gift shop area. Yeah, I bought the postcards. He -- or she -- is quite the salesbird.

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