By Kira Cordova
The newly completed Colorado Peace Museum in downtown Gunnison, located at 235 N. Main Street, will host its grand opening this Friday, May 6th from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. during May’s First Friday Art Walk. The event will feature several exhibits exploring the meaning of peace, including Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change, Ukrainian peace heroes, and the work of art-activist, filmmaker, and Western Professor Patricia Amlin.
Lishka Blodgett, the museum’s Founder and Director, wants the museum, which she notes will have free coffee and WiFi, to be an open and collaborative space for Western students, “a place where you could work and meet other people” and springboard conversations about peace in the context of discussions about local, regional, and global happenings.
The nascent museum, part of a network of international Peace Hero Museums, is seeking a second intern to research peace activism and organize events (academic credit and housing in downtown Gunnison available–for more information, see the description at the bottom of this article).
For Western students looking to get involved in the Gunnison community and with the local and international peace communities, there are also volunteer opportunities available that span varying levels of time commitment, from volunteering at the desk for a few hours to helping develop and implement peace education programs in the community.
Blodgett, who’s lived in Gunnison for more than 35 years, is currently completing her Master’s in Museum and Gallery Management (MGMM) degree at Western. She traveled globally for twelve years during and after earning her undergrad, soaking up five languages and coming to the conclusion that “conflicts are politically contrived.”
Her experiences in global travel and a visit to what is now the Caen Memorial Museum, near Normandy France, inspired her to start the Vienna Peace Museum. The Caen Museum is dedicated to historical education about World War II, D-Day, and the Cold War, but Blodgett wanted to incorporate education about positive peace efforts too. She left the museum and thought: “I have to start a peace museum”, a reflection of her desire to share stories of peace activism.
Blodgett’s favorite part about Peace Museum Colorado is that it’s a place people can ask about peace. She describes Peace Museum Vienna as a place people come “hungry for conversation about peace.” She expands, “When they come in, I cannot get them out of there…I want to have a place like that [in Gunnison].”
Alexandra Weatherhill, who is joining the Peace Museum Colorado team as an intern, is already highly involved within the Western and Gunnison community. She’s a double major in History and Art at Western, President of the Figure Skating and Ballet Clubs, and Treasurer of the Western chapter of the National Association of Future Music Educators (NAfME).
Weatherill says she was offered the internship position by one of her history professors because of her double major, and quickly accepted the role. “I could really see how much of a creative opportunity it was, as much as a unique [chance] to pursue both my interests,” she says. Weatherill is excited to get to work this summer researching peace heroes in the Gunnison Valley and developing related material.
Lizzy McArthur, a graduate from Western’s Master’s in Environmental Management (MEM) program, is working to develop after-school and summer camp programs for peace education in the Gunnison Valley. She recalls meeting Blodgett in a “synchronistic coincidence” while looking for housing in Gunnison.
They started discussing a Holistic Resiliency course in mindfulness and nature connection McArthur designed while completing her MEM program. “Liska thought my project concept synced well with the themes at the Peace Heroes Museum and we started collaborating on ideas,” says McArthur (when I spoke to Blodgett, she asked us to spell her first name as Lishka to help people pronounce it correctly).
“I think my favorite part about Liska’s concept for the museum is her focus on Peace Heroes who have overcome adversity but remained true to their disciplines and ideals. Every Peace Hero featured in the museum has struggled through some kind of significant hardship before they became beacons of hope. I think sometimes we can find the most profound truths through our deepest turmoil and to find a light in dark times is one of the most beautiful capacities of the human spirit,” McArthur relays.
The Peace Museums in Vienna and Gunnison both celebrate local and international peace heroes. “Peace is doing something good for humanity, taking a risk,” adds Blodgett. “Taking the risk is the valiant part. The greater the risk, the more of a peace hero someone is.”
According to the museum’s website, the new Gunnison Peace Museum “is dedicated to researching and promoting stories of peace activism in Colorado and the world” towards its ultimate goals, to “motivate and activate” citizens. The museum can also be found on Facebook.
See the internship description below:
Peace Museum Colorado (PMC) is looking for an intern to help and manage the museum. We are interested in young people who have a degree or are soon to get a degree in the field of Peace Studies, Communications, International Relations, Media Studies, Sociology etc.
The interns are going to work with the PMC, especially on the Peace Heroes Project and Windows for Peace, but also with the upcoming events. You will feel free to develop your own ideas and projects with us.
The interns will have a unique opportunity to contribute to the world of peace while working with very experienced experts in the field of peace studies, and at the same time will have a great chance to live in Gunnison, USA. The volunteers have the chance to help out with the daily life of the Museum as well as participate in our different projects:
PMC frequently organizes different events and exhibitions which are related to peace. We work together with several artists and organizations from the city or internationally. Peace Kitchens are special events at Peace Museum Colorado. The goal of a Peace Kitchen is to provoke a discussion on peace and seek a way forward. We also organize concerts, conferences, expositions and film screenings.
- Web designing
- Social Media strategy and Public outreach
- Writing proposal for funding
- Managing the Peace Museum Colorado and its Windows for Peace Project
- Being able to conduct Peace Education tour in schools and to public visitors
- Fund-raising. We are also looking for interns for the same tasks in Vienna, Paris, Nepal, and New York Offices.
Peace Museum Colorado can offer:
PMV is a non-for-profit organization and our budget is based on donations. We could offer a Certificate at the end of each internship or volunteer opportunity. We will be willing to help with any scholarship’s documentation, free room during your internship as well.
We would like to offer a minimum two month internship to interested individuals and can last as long as six months, but this can be discussed individually since we are flexible. Please send a motivation letter and your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org