Imagine my surprise when I emailed a Chicago writer friend to ask about the status of the forthcoming American Writers Museum, only to discover her response, “We’re getting a writers museum?”
Yes, folks, especially my fellow writers, the American Writers Museum Foundation will establish the first national museum in the US dedicated to the history and influence of our literature, American literature. And where better to have it than the town who has given birth to or taken under its wings the likes of Ernest “Papa” Hemingway, Gwendolyn Brooks, Carl Sandburg, Saul Bellow, Studs Terkel, and Nelson Algren, Lisel Mueller, and the city that inspired others nationwide to have their own reading program?
For me, Chicago puts the literary in literature when I think of the setting for one of my favorite books, Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, and when I think of the hours and hours I spent at the Cultural Center, formerly the very Chicago Public Library where David Mamet claims he discovered the power of literature.
Beginning in 2015, some of those supposed 850 million people who visit American museums each year, will have one strictly devoted to reminding them of the power of literature. The museum will curate literary themes such as American Quests, American Families, and American Towns and Communities. Among the museum’s intentions are to
- explore American writers’ ” influence on our history, our identity, our culture and our daily lives.”
- “enrich and deepen appreciation for good writing in all its forms”, and to
- “inspire people of all ages and from all walks of life to discover, or rediscover, a love of reading and writing.”
The museum’s first exhibit–an online gallery that explores literature’s connection with history, identity, and daily life– is available for viewing now.
It’s still too early to buy tickets or membership, but the American Writers Museum’s Facebook page and its home page are sufficient places to whet your whistle. Until we learn more I’ll be wondering fantasizing about its architecture and, apparently, keeping my Chicago writer friends updated.