In 1999 a group of returned Peace Corps Volunteers in Portland, Oregon, established the Committee for a Museum of the Peace Corps Experience. The group managed acquisition of objects, organized professionally curated exhibitions, and pursued funding sources.

The Portland committee expanded its membership and vision to the national level in 2016. Representatives from around the country met prior to the Peace Corps Connect 55th anniversary conference in Washington, DC, to strategize how to launch a national collaboration. The following year, the committee gathered for its first in-person planning retreat in Denver, in conjunction with the 2017 Peace Corps Connect.

The group formulated four strategic initiatives: operations, collections, fundraising, and technology. Goals focused on expanding the Museum’s operation and visibility, including logo and website design, accessioning and storing collections, launching of virtual exhibits, reestablishing a board of directors, securing paid staff, and identifying a site for the physical museum.

The Committee supports the three goals of Peace Corps:

  1. Help the people of interested countries meet their need for trained men and women.
  2. Help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
  3. Help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

An institutional member of the American Alliance of Museums, the Museum preserves and exhibits objects, shares Peace Corps stories, and educates visitors, all in compliance with best practices and highest standards of museum management.

The Committee for a Museum of the Peace Corps Experience is a National Peace Corps Association affiliate and a 501(c)(3) private nonprofit corporation neither affiliated with nor acting on behalf of the U.S. Peace Corps.

History

Winter 1999   Columbia River Peace Corps Association (now Portland Peace Corps Association) members formed an organizing committee to create a Peace Corps museum

January 2000   Committee for a Museum of the Peace Corps Experience (CMPCE) awarded a business grant by Burdock-Burn Art Resource Inc.; Portland, OR

March 2000   CMPCE incorporated as a 501(c)(3) private Oregon nonprofit

Winter 2002   Technical assistance grant for Board development awarded by Regional Arts and Culture Council; Portland, OR

July 2003   Museum project introduced at National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) Group Leaders annual meeting; Portland, OR

July 2013   Project grant awarded by Oregon City Chamber of Commerce

March 2016   Presentation at NPCA Group Leaders (Pacific Northwest Region) conference; Portland Community College

September 2016   Meeting to discuss expanding Museum project to national level. George Washington University Library; Washington, DC

Participated in Peace Corps Connect 55th anniversary conference. George Washington University; Washington, DC

July 2018   Expanded Board of Directors

Exhibits

March 2001   Artifacts and Anecdotes: Celebrating Forty Years of Peace Corps Service. Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center; Portland, OR

March 2003   Artifacts for John F. Kennedy exhibit on loan to German Historical Museum; Bonn, Germany

June–August 2003   The Peace Corps Experience: Celebrations, Events, and Games. Collins Gallery, Multnomah County Main Library; Portland, OR

July 2005   The Peace Corps Experience: Bringing the World Home. Art Institute of Portland

June 2007   Participated in Day of the African Child. World Forestry Center; Portland, OR

September 2008–June 2009   Exhibit and classroom presentations. International School; Beaverton, OR

March–June 2011   50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps, with workshops. Oregon Historical Society; Portland, OR

June–December 2014   The Peace Corps: Fifty Years of Service, with workshops. Clackamas Community College and Portland Community College, OR; Clark College and Fort Vancouver Regional Libraries, Salmon Creek and Battle Ground, WA

January–July 2015   Select items from 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps exhibit on loan to Dayton International Peace Museum; Dayton, OH

January–May 2016   Select items from 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps exhibit on loan to Wilmington College; Wilmington, OH

September 22, 2019   Peace Corps Place exhibition at REACH Opening Festival, with premiere of documentary A Towering Task: the Story of the Peace Corps. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; Washington, DC

January 23–May 23, 2021   Peace Corps at 60: Inside the Volunteer Experience. American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center; Washington, DC