photo of teenagers kneeling around an art project on the floor
photo of smiling kids gathered around a table
photo of a man presenting to a group in the museum gallery room

Martin Luther King Jr.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

People often use the words peace and nonviolence interchangeably. Though related, the two have different meanings.

Peace may refer to a tranquil state of being; a quality of life characterized by equity and fairness; or the absence of war and other violent behavior. Nonviolence may refer to a lifestyle, a philosophy, or a strategy for promoting and achieving peace.

Throughout history, men and women who care about their fellow human beings—and the environments they share—have used nonviolent strategies to achieve equity and fairness and to prevent or end war. The Dayton International Peace Museum calls these men and women peace heroes. The Museum defines a peace hero as a person who cares about the world and its inhabitants and strives for positive change through nonviolence.

Through its activities, exhibits, and events, the Museum offers non-threatening opportunities to examine peace, nonviolence, and heroism in historic and contemporary contexts. Consistent with its nonpartisan spirit of inclusiveness, the Museum welcomes and respects different points of view while encouraging the practice of finding common ground, creating a sense of unity, and building consensus.

“War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today.”

John F. Kennedy

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Nelson Mandela

The Dayton International Peace Museum welcomes people of all ages. An interactive children’s room on the second floor allows children to play, sing, and learn about other cultures. On Saturday mornings, volunteers conduct a storytelling hour for children. Each summer, the Museum offers a Peace Camp for youth ages 5 to 12. On-site programs for adults include meditation and yoga groups, a book club, a monthly Great Decisions series, The MLK Dialogues series, and the Building Peace series which covers timely and diverse topics and issues.

In addition to permanent exhibits, the Museum hosts three to five temporary exhibits each year. Topics of recent temporary exhibits include gun culture, immigration, the 2019 Oregon District mass shooting, Yemen, Poverty in Dayton, and a minority women’s art show.

Permanent exhibits include the extensive Dayton Peace Accords digital and interactive exhibit, located in its own gallery. Four touch-screen modules lead visitors from the early history of Yugloslavia to the devistating civil war, and the journey to Wright Patterson Air Force base in Dayton, leading to a peace treaty. The exhibit includes an update on life in the Balkans today and the work that still needs to happen for a lasting peace. Other exhibits include original photos of Gandhi, a young person’s exhibit on the climate crisis, the birthplace of the International Cities of Peace and an expanding major exhibit on peace heroes.

Since 2014, the Museum has displayed the Peace Labyrinth — an exhibition of quilts depicting the “Golden Rule” in more than 17 faith- and conscience-based traditions. Volunteers trained to be Museum Guides  are happy to provide tours to individuals as well as groups. Use this website to schedule a group tour for either adults or students.

The Museum’s outreach efforts include a committment to make connections in support of like-minded organizations and NGO’s in the greater Miami Valley.Formal connections include the University of Dayton, Sinclair College, The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance, WYSO, Wright State University, Wilmington College, Ohio State Univerity, DCOWA, NCCJ, Dayton Mediation,Heartfulness Meditation, and the City of Dayton. The Museum  has volunteers willing to travel to other locations and make presentations on peace-related topics. To request a volunteer speaker, call 937-227-3223.

The Museum is well connected outside of Ohio and is an active member of the International Network for Museums of Peace (INMP) based in Kyoto, Japan. Sixteen members of the Dayton community attended the last international INMP conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 2017. The Museum has active connections with Peace Direct,the Newseum, the Nuclear Age Foundation, Mercy for Animals, Peace Trees Vietnam, and many others.

“The right tools for solving disputes within our community are precision instruments such as reason, communication, empathy, curiosity, and understanding. They are also the right tools for building a global civilization of peace and prosperity.”

Paul K. Chappell

Nonviolence comes at a price as does war. Lives may be lost, and many years may pass before nonviolent strategies produce their desired results.

But the belief that war solves problems is not supported by science. For example, research by Maria Stephan and Erica Chenoweth has found that nonviolent resistance is twice as likely as violent resistance to achieve peace and social change.

The movements listed below helped bring equity and justice to greater numbers of people. Although they may have been accompanied or interrupted by violence, these movements are generally considered successful examples of nonviolent efforts to promote social change.

  • Women’s Rights Movement, USA, 1848-1920
  • Gay Rights Movement, International, 1897-present
  • Anti-Apartheid Movement, South Africa, 1912-1992
  • Independence Movement, India, 1885-1947
  • Danish Resistance Movement, Denmark, 1940-1945
  • Civil Rights Movement, USA, 1909-1968
  • Anti-War Movement, USA, 1964-1973
  • Solidarity Movement, Poland, 1980-1989
  • Fall of the Berlin Wall and Reunification of Germany, 1988-1990

For centuries, people have used stories to impart values, teach life lessons, and present role models worthy of emulation.

At the Dayton International Peace Museum, storytelling is the medium and peacebuilders are the focus. The Museum is dedicated to gathering, preserving, and telling the stories of peacebuilders. Whether legendary or unsung, peace heroes demonstrate compassion for others, a desire to effect positive change, courage to speak out and/or take nonviolent action, and a willingness to assume the risks associated with taking a stand.

Whether on-site, online, or on the streets of Dayton, the Museum brings the stories of peacebuilders to life.

The opening of the new location on Courthouse Plaza will introduce a multimedia, interactive exhibit space devoted to well-known peacebuilders such as Mahatma Gandhi and to those lesser-knowns such as Ted Studebaker (a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War) and Sister Dorothy Stang (human rights and environmental activist).



The Museum defines a peace hero as a person who cares about the world and its inhabitants and strives for positive change through nonviolence.

Dayton Peace Museum (logo)
logo for the Intl Network of Museums for Peace