Museums that make violence look like fun

Dr Peter van den Dungen, Peace Studies, University of Bradford, wrote in The Independent:

I read a newspaper that had the gunman in Oslo, with his gun, prominently on the front cover, together with his saying, “It is better to kill too many than not enough.”

The same paper carried an advertisement from the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, which said:

“Charge down to the Royal Armouries Museum this summer for loads of family fun …

“Discover: the world of the warrior through the ages from the medieval knight to  the modern-day soldier.

“Hands-on: Ever fancied handling a medieval sword … Our special handling sessions let you get up close to weapons and armour from the collection …

“Commando Kidz! Are you up for the challenge of the Adventure Zone’s inflatable assault course?”

Young boys (especially) want fun and excitement, and handling weapons and playing at war seem to fit the bill perfectly. Should these holiday offerings be regarded as harmless fun and instructive excitement, or are they part of a deep-rooted and pervasive culture of institutionalised violence in which the killing and maiming of people is accepted as the norm?

Is it pure coincidence that this country has some 100 army and war museums, but only one embryonic peace museum?

The Independent’s Letters column,Thursday, 28 July 2011

Peter’s main research interests are in the related areas of peace history, culture of peace, and peace education and also focus on peace museums as potentially important instruments to foster peace education and the development of a culture of peace in its various dimensions for a wide public.


The Peace Museum aims to build a culture of peace  

The Peace Museum in Bradford explores the events and history of people and organisations that have worked to promote peace, non-violence and conflict resolution.  

It is dedicated to the collection, conservation, and interpretation of material relating to the history and development of peace, nonviolence and conflict resolution. 

Through exhibitions and learning activities, the Peace Museum aims to help build a ‘culture of peace’ in the here and now.

It was established in 1994 and has a collection of over 5,500 items relating to the history and development of peace, non-violence and conflict resolution. 

Currently at the museum there are three main exhibitions. These exhibitions cover the themes of peace from post World War (Room 1), through the 70’s and 80’s campaigns for peace and nuclear disarmament (Room 2), to the modern day ethics of peace and more local peace issues in and around the area. 

It is a member of the International Network of Museums for Peace (INMP)



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