A PLACE with a Message of World Peace and Love

A Story from Lisa Balschunat, Longtime Supporter of WACM

My children, Kristen and Eric Balschunat, now 24 years old and 21 years old, respectively, grew up with WACM as a frequent destination.  From the museum’s early beginnings to its present location on Warren Street, WACM shared a message of world peace and love to my children every time we entered the doors of the museum.


“Untitled” by Ryo O., age 8, USA

Eric enjoyed eating a lollipop embedded with a cricket that he bought in the gift shop, and Kristen enjoyed buying “worry” dolls after learning about their origin and how they were used to let go of the worries that weigh you down.Kristen and Eric learned about different cultures through WACM’s art exhibits, in the museum’s Marketplace with the international toy foods, toys and clothing.  They loved playing the instruments from around the world and creating messages of peace through paper cranes, prayer flags, and the various signs and symbols they were invited to post on a museum bulletin board.  

When Kristen was a Queensbury high school student, she volunteered to coordinate an exhibit about Japanese paper cranes and Sadako Sasaki, the young girl from Hiroshima, one of many children affected by the atom bomb dropped in her city when she was a little girl.   With educator Sheileen Landry, they created a beautiful exhibit at Dog Ate My Homework, then on Glen Street.

Kristen shared Sadako’s story with school kids at the bookstore during the winter break. Children learned about origami and how to make a peace crane. They learned about the deep cultural belief that if someone makes 1,000 paper cranes something they wish for will come true.  Sadako’s wish was for world peace and for people never to fight against each other.  Cancer was weakening Sadako’s strength, so people from all over the world started making paper cranes and sending them to her to help her reach 1,000.  Sadly, the young girl died before the 1,000th was complete, but Sadako’s inspiration for world peace lives on. Sadako’s resolve took hold in Kristen and what transpired was a beautiful collaboration between Mike Smith, the bookstore owner, WACM and my daughter.

Both Kristen and Eric are adults who are filled with love, kindness and peace.  They are motivated by art, nature, music and the good in people.  I give partial credit to the WACM for inspiring my children in such a positive way.  

I hope our community — Queensbury to Hudson Falls and Glens Falls to Moreau — supports WACM during its PLACE campaign, so the next generation can learn about the peaceful people that live throughout our world.  I am still hopeful that our similarities can outweigh our differences when we cross cultural borders, and there is no better way to share that message with young minds than through art, literature and music.

Thank you WACM for being in, not only my kids’ lives, but also in mine.  Donations of all sizes will help WACM continue its mission “to bring our diverse world to children” in a positive and healthy way.