IdeastreamPublicMedia.org, By Alejandro Figueroa-WYSO. Posted July 1st 2022
The International Peace Museum has opened its doors in a new location in downtown Dayton. That’s after being closed for over two years due to the pandemic.
The peace museum has been raising awareness of peace through education, workshops and exhibits for nearly 20 years in Dayton. It also pays tribute to the 1995 Dayton Peace Accord — a peace agreement reached at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, ending the war in Bosnia.
It quickly outgrew its old location at the Isaac Pollack House on Monument Avenue. Now, the new space is on the corner of Ludlow and East Third Street on the former location of the U.S. Bank branch in Courthouse Square.
The museum is kicking-off its reopening with an exhibit of photographs from the Chicago Freedom Movement — a series of campaigns and rallies from 1965 to August of 1966 in demand of equal education, housing, and employment for Black people in Chicago.
The exhibit is in partnership with the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center — which purchased the photographs through a grant as an educational tool to deliver its message of equal housing opportunity.
Inside, the walls are lined with photographs from 1965 of Martin Luther King Jr. and civil rights protesters in Chicago. There’s shelves with over 3,000 with books for the community to borrow, a stage and a corner for a coffee shop that is still in the works.
The photographs displayed were taken with color film by photographer and activist Bernie Kleina – who followed King across the country during rallies for equality.
Kevin Kelly, the executive director of the museum, said the exhibition is a way for people to have active discussions of the past and what to make of the present.
“If we want to live in a civil society and live without violence, we’ve got to figure out ways to do that. And that’s an active process. It’s not passive,” Kelly said. “So reminding people of where we’ve been, what’s at stake and some directions we can head next, we feel like that’s a good move.”
Kelly added part of the museum’s mission is to push for people to have meaningful conversations, especially after many stayed at home during the pandemic.
“I think two and a half years of COVID has made people less likely to be social,” he said. “But now, hopefully there’ll be time where people can relearned how to communicate with each other without screaming or without violence, and if we can be a part of that, that means we’re doing well.”
On Thursday evening, the museum will celebrate its reopening with a special talk with Kleina. It will open its doors to the general public on June 3.
Alejandro Figueroa is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.