‘Peace’ is a seemingly simple concept. But how would you define it?
Is peace always imagined in relation to conflict? How does ‘peace’ differ from ‘conflict resolution’? What does peace have to do with social justice or the ‘fight’ for rights? Can peace and revolution ever be compatible? Does peace always require reconciliation? What of inner peace? And what is meant by ‘everyday peace’?
A lot of museum space has been dedicated to war. Libraries and bookshops contain countless volumes of military history. Most of us can think of multiple war films. There are well-established traditions of war reporting and conflict photography. Peace, on the other hand…
We talk a lot less about peace. We aspire to peace, we idealise it – but we don’t spend as much time exploring and reflecting on it as we do with war. As a result, our habits of visualising peace are often limited to simple cliches and well-worn tropes. To images of doves or UN peace-keepers, to metaphors of friendship or seed-sowing. These images and metaphors have value and power. But they can also limit our understanding of peace, as a complex, multi-faceted phenomenon that is experienced and conceived very differently from one context to another. And if our understanding of ‘peace’ is limited, so is our ability to build or sustain it.
In this museum we have brought together lots of different ways of visualising peace, in lots of different contexts: inner peace, local peace, global peace, cyber peace, even peace in space. Our aim is not to promote any one particular vision of peace. Rather, we want to explore the diversity of ways in which it can be felt, understood, imagined, narrated, envisioned, embodied, created and sustained. Our aim is to spark more conversation about what peace ‘looks like’ to each of us, where it can be found, how it can be promoted, how it gets represented, and what peace-making and peace-keeping actually involve. We think that talking about different manifestations of peace is an important step in empowering everyone to play a part in fostering it, no matter who they are or where they come from.
We hope you enjoy exploring our museum!
We were invited to write an article about our museum for E-International Relations, which you can read here: ‘Visualising Peace: a Virtual Museum‘ (published January 2023). You can also find out more in this video walk-through, featured in New America’s Future Security Forum 2022 (Sept 2022), in this presentation, and in this recorded talk for the youth think tank Institute for Greater Europe.
Please let us know what you think by filling in our feedback form at the end of your visit! And if you have any suggestions for other visualisations of peace to include in our museum, please let us know!