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Building Bridges – Making Peace Museums More Interactive


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Representatives of Peace Museums from all over the world gathered in Belfast in Northern Ireland during 11-12 April and the Tehran Peace Museum (TPM) was among them. Over 20 countries were represented at this, the 9th International Conference for the International Network of Museums for Peace (INMP).


The TPM was represented by TPM volunteer and oral history project coordinator, Liz Lewis. Mrs. Lewis participated on a panel with Yoshiko Tanigawa from the Kyoto Museum for World Peace and Yoshiko Hayakawa, a Japanese television producer and coordinator of the “Hiroshima Panels” exhibition. The panel’s objective was to present on how peace museums can be more interactive with the specific focus on engaging in dialogue.

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The TPM’s presentation – entitled “Building Bridges” – concentrated on two main aspects of the museum’s work. The first is to describe the origins of the Museum as well as the people who are involved. The second is to depict the details of the museum’s activities – including the many TPM peace education projects. Mrs. Lewis spoke about the unique nature of the museum in that the chemical weapons survivors of the Iran-Iraq War act as “living history” in giving tours to visitors from both Iran and overseas.


Her presentation focused on how chemical weapons survivors benefit from the catharsis of compassionate conversation and visitors are able to listen, learn, make meaningful connections and share their personal experiences. The wealth of knowledge sharing and the development of friendships benefits the survivors, the museum and the visitors.


Mrs. Lewis also spoke about the many peace education programmes held within the museum and the different age groups of participants from very young children to adults.


The presentation contained an embedded video featuring Ms. Mona Badamchizadeh, the Art for Peace coordinator, who described the concept and successes of the Art for Peace project.


Mrs. Lewis concluded by reading a personal message from TPM Director, Mr. MohammadReza Taghipour on peace activism and the necessity to seek inner peace in order to develop harmony within our communities and among nations.

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Yoshiko Tanigawa delivered a passionate presentation about opening dialogue with visitors to the Kyoto Museum for World Peace. Ms. Tanigawa has been a volunteer guide at the museum for 12 years and over this time, she has spoken with survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear attacks in 1945, which has empowered her with the ability to inform visitors about the experiences and sentiments of those victims of weapons of mass destruction. She endeavours to engage visitors in meaningful dialogue about building a culture of peace from learning about the ashes of the nuclear attacks.


Yoshiko Hayakawa gave an informative and colourful talk about the collaborative artwork of Iri and Toshi Maruki who had deep ties to Hiroshima after visiting the city in the days after the bombings. The Maruki’s “Hiroshima Panels” are graphic descriptions of what happened after the attacks and Ms. Hayakawa has been instrumental in exhibiting this evocative artwork, including a 6-month tour in the USA. In her talk, Ms. Hayakawa spoke about the feedback and responses from visitors. Most striking was the comment of one visitor in the USA, who revealed that she had only ever known about the effects of the atomic bombings from photographs and films of the mushroom cloud and was unaware of the real consequences to ordinary people.


The panel and audience agreed that there was indeed a great need to further peace education through the work and dedication of peace museums across the globe.


To read the article "Dialogues at Peace Museums – Making Peace Museums More Interactive" by Ms. Lewis, please click here.


To read the "Building Bridges" presentation by Ms. Lewis, please click here.