Internationale Kulturwissenschaften
International Cultural Studies
Etudes culturelles internationales

Gerald Mader (Schlaining)


A European Peace Museum at Castle Schlaining

The Burgenland provincial government has commissioned the Austrian Study Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution to set up an exhibition on the theme of "War and Peace" for the year 2000 and a permanent European Peace Museum in Castle Schlaining. Meanwhile the actual title of the exhibition has been agreed on, as follows:

"War and Peace - from a cult of violence to a culture of Peace"

Responsibility for the realisation of the project has been given to a directorial committee made up of Gerald Mader, president of the Austrian Study Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Wolfgang R. Vogt, scientific director, architect Erich Woschitz, artistic director and privy councillor Gerald Schlag, who is director of the Burgenland provincial museum, and Manfred Hainzl, who is responsible for organisational affairs at the exhibition site.

There were already plans for a permanent Peace Museum in Castle Schlaining when the study centre was first founded. The fact that an idea first conceived in the eighties may now be realised in 2000 is a direct result of the degree to which the centre, which received UNESCO’s 1995 peace prize, has been able to extend and develop its activities. The success of the centre - the peace university, the international workshops for civilian peace missions, the peace library, its unique infrastructure with two hotels and a conference centre - has encouraged the provincial government of Burgenland to offer the Castle Schlaining, which it owns, as a venue for the peace exhibition and for the founding of a European Peace Museum. The government is also covering half the exhibition costs. These are expected to reach around 1.9 million euro. Thus the Study Centre must contribute 0.95 million euro from its own resources. Those funds must be covered by other public subsidies, private sponsors and donations and income from admission to the exhibition.

The project will be realised in two stages, the first being the exhibition, the second the founding of the European Peace Museum. The conceptual bases for the exhibition and for the museum have already been established. Peace is understood as an inclusive concept (negative and positive peace), as a complex process and as a permanent mission. The concept is based not just on principles already established in peace and conflict research, but also on accepted trends in museology. The exhibition itself will be organised into four major areas: violence and its avoidance, the environment and its preservation, conflicts and our treatment of them and peace and its development.

The transformation of the theoretical concept into museum usage (descriptions of the various areas and listing of the artefacts for display) was complete by the end of June 1999. From this point work has begun on design and the necessary infrastructural alterations. In Spring 2000 the actual construction of the exhibition should begin. The opening of the exhibition, which forms the basis of the eventual European Peace Museum, takes place on May 8, 2000.

The planned museum attempts for the first time a broad representation of peace in the past, present and future, whereas the numerous peace museums around the world deal only with limited aspects of war and peace. Thematically, the museum must deal with more than just peace itself, since in many respects peace first defines itself in confrontation with its opposites: violence and war. Thus the causes and consequences, the destruction and suffering from war and violence cannot be excluded from a European Peace Museum. The museum will present numerous causes, forms and consequences of violence - everyday violence, violence against children, women and foreigners - and alternatives to violence will also be discussed and presented. Special attention will be paid to the violence of war, as the organised military use of violence is surely the most massive manifestation of physical violence. In other sections, global crises and trends, as well as people-to-people, national and international conflicts, their violent and non-violent expressions and the parties to conflicts will be presented. The broad spectrum of environmental conflicts - climate, energy, and water resource problems- will be dealt with in the context of peace. The main section of the exhibition is devoted to the many-sided and complex theme of peace. The factors crucial to peace and successful peace processes (e.g. peace agreements, peace resolutions) as well as people (e.g. Nobel Peace laureates) and organisations (the UN, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, non-governmental organisations etc.) which had outstanding influence in getting peace processes underway, realised and established will be presented. Finally, visions, strategies and peace jurisdiction to achieve sustainable peace will also be dealt with.

Although the museum unquestionably supports the cause of peace, it should spread no ideology, but rather encourage visitors to search for violence-free ways to take precautions to avoid violence, constructive ways of dealing with conflict and sustainable conditions of peace. The museum shouldn’t just improve public awareness of the politics of peace, but also strengthen people’s courage to actively engage with those politics, since the primary goal is to contribute to a culture of peace.

The Peace Museum is international in character, but is simultaneously planned as a European project. Thus it sees itself not only as contributing to a common European defence and security policy, which should find expression in European peace policies, but especially also as a cultural contribution to the process of European unification.

In summary, the provincial exhibition and the Peace Museum present themselves as a challenge in numerous respects:

Internationale Kulturwissenschaften
International Cultural Studies
Etudes culturelles internationales

© INST 1999

Institut zur Erforschung und Förderung österreichischer und internationaler Literaturprozesse

 Research Institute for Austrian and International Literature and Cultural Studies

 Institut de recherche de littérature et civilisation autrichiennes et internationales