Bradford, UK –
INMP was created at the first international conference of peace and anti-war museums held in Bradford (UK) in September 1992. The conference was organised in the University of Bradford (Department of Peace Studies) by the Give Peace a Chance Trust, a small Quaker charity.
Since their emergence in the middle of the 17th century in England, the Quakers, a small Christian denomination (officially called the ‘Religious Society of Friends’), have been in the forefront of social reform, including the abolition of slavery and war. Acting in accordance with the conviction that ‘there is no way to peace – peace is the way’, Quakers have been engaged in developing a culture of peace centuries before UNESCO popularised the expression in the late 20th century.
The Give Peace a Chance Trust, established in 1986 as an educational charity, was formed to create a peace museum to tell the history of the British peace movement, and encourage people to join today’s movement. The aim of the conference was to advance the project for a national peace museum through learning from the experience of existing peace museums. Following the conference, a peace museum project office was opened in Bradford with the support of the city; later in the decade this was followed by the opening of a peace gallery and then peace museum. It has largely survived because of the support, financial and otherwise, of Quakers.
Conference participants also decided to create an informal network to stay in touch and help each other. The International Network of Peace Museums was serviced by the Trust which published the network’s newsletter and took care of its worldwide distribution through the postal mail. The publication intended to keep conference participants and museums in touch with each other during the years when no conference took place. It had been agreed to try to arrange conferences every three years, a scheme that has largely been adhered to.
Grateful thanks are due to the founder and long-time secretary of the Trust, Gerald Drewett, for adopting the network as a special project of the Trust during a period of ten years, from the beginning until 2002.
During this period, 15 issues of the newsletter were published (May 1993-October 2002). They can be seen at www.museumsforpeace.org/news/newsletters.html. Whereas the first issue consisted of a modest four pages, the last issue had grown to ten times that number. These early newsletters, although simply produced and without illustrations, give a good idea of the networking that was taking place: this included the organisation of museum visits and tours; the exchanging of exhibitions; projected new museums; recent publications; articles by network members, freely submitted or invited.
The Give Peace a Chance Trust also published an extensive, illustrated report on the conference entitled Bringing Peace to People: Meeting of Directors and Staff of Peace and Anti-War Museums and Related Institutions Worldwide, 10-12 September 1992, with summaries of all of the presentations. The publication includes a directory of peace and peace-related museums, anticipating later directories prepared by the network.