Faces of Iran

Dayton International Peace Museum’s must-see exhibit

By Stacey Ritz
photo: Iranian boy in the Faces of Iranexhibit at the Dayton Peace Museum; photo credit: Steve Fryburg

“The public will learn more than they probably know about Iranians,” shared founder of the Dayton International Peace Museum, Christine Dull. The Faces of Iran exhibit currently featured at the museum through the end of May displays photos of Iran taken by Steve Fryburg, former director of the Dayton International Peace Museum. The exhibit also includes a selection of Iranian youth artwork in support of peace and a one-hour public television special – Rick Steves’ “Iran, Yesterday and Today,” plus Persian pop and traditional music both with and without singing.

Fryburg explained, “I was the director of the Peace Museum for several years during which I made a couple of trips to Iran. One of the main reasons was to meet with a group in Tehran who was interested in starting a peace museum and give them some guidance on the subject … I also met with officials in some of the schools, government and religious communities while there.” Fyburg hopes the exhibition will give attendees “a view of Iran that people in the U.S. rarely get from our mainstream media.” Dull added that she hopes “people see that the people of Iran are ‘just like us.’”

The Dayton International Peace Museum is a 501(c)3 organization that relies on donations to continue their mission of  contributing to a local, national and international culture of peace through exhibits, activities and events that focus on nonviolent choices.

There is no cost to attend the exhibition which is open during regular museum hours of Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sundays 1 p.m.-5 p.m. The show was originally presented in 2007 after Fryburg’s return from his second trip to Iran. “Guests were very interested and many surprised by the diversity in the Iranian society, also by the similarities to our culture and friendliness of the Iranian people.” The exhibition is now being reshown with updates “due to the current tensions with Iran over nuclear issues,” Fryburg explained. At the exhibit, information cards are posted that list discussion points and suggested follow-up activities. The cards are written for three educational levels: elementary, intermediate and young adult.

“The ‘Faces’ are beautiful, Rick Steves’ DVD on Iran is highly interesting and the Persian poetry is very inspiring. Also several people have commented that the drawings by English artist Emily Johns are excellent” said Dull. The exhibition is also open to children of all ages. Children are provided with colored pencils and paper to make their own drawings and creations as they are encouraged to create their own piece of art in response to the images they view at the exhibit. Dull added, “In addition, the children’s room on the second floor will soon be totally redone with interactive activities by Creative Fusion Initiative (CFI).”

In addition to the Faces of Iran exhibit, the Dayton International Peace Museum offers a 33-foot RV called the PeaceMobile. “[The PeaceMobile] holds an exhibit and children’s activities. It has colorful murals on each side painted by art students from Earlham College, and travels to schools, faith communities and festivals” explained Dull. The goal of the PeaceMobile, like the museum, is to share interesting and inspiring ideas of peace.

Fryburg has also helped to establish the Peace Museum in Teheran. In his extraordinary work, Fyburg hopes to “expand visitor’s views of Iran and its people.” Fryburg continued, “All you see and hear in our media, and especially in the current movie ‘Argo,’ are not fair portrayals of the Iranian people or their society. Sadly, many Americans are very culture-centric because our country is large and we have little direct exposure to other cultures through travel. Other cultures are not a threat to our own, but instead only make our lives more beautiful by giving us new ways to view the world – like getting a 60-inch flat screen. When we open ourselves to the world and see others as our neighbors, and when we get to know them, we will find that we have more in common than different. Peace may be obtained without resorting to violence.”

On Sunday, May 26 at 2 p.m., the museum will have a special showing of travel expert Rick Steves’ DVD, “Iran, Yesterday and Today,” in the Holbrooke Hall Annex. Dull added, “An Iranian woman presently with the Kettering Foundation will comment on the film and take questions.”

“I took all of the photos for the exhibition and put it together.” Fryburg explained. “I did a presentation about Iran at the show opening and my current work with Iranians as a member of the International Network of Museums for Peace Board.” The Peace Museum’s exhibits are designed to inform, inspire and instigate – to actively pursue a personal, proactive and nonviolent response to “inspire a culture of peace.” The visuals provided at the Faces of Iran exhibit will certainly inspire viewers to pause and reflect carefully with compassion and concern.

The Faces of Iran exhibit is on display through Friday, May 31 at the Dayton International Peace Museum, 208 W. Monument Ave. To learn more about the exhibit, visit daytonpeacemuseum.org.

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