Chicago is known for many things: a beautiful skyline, great shopping, fantastic festivities year-round, sports teams, hot dogs and deep dish style pizza (sorry, New York, Chicago’s deep dish is better). But they’re also known for having some really great museums! And on May 16th, they’re adding a new one to their repertoire that will draw bookworms from across the country.
The Museum, slated to open May 16th, will be situated along the famed Michigan Mile, in the heart of the city’s cultural center. According to the AWM mission statement, the museum aspires to:
“… engage the public in celebrating American writers and exploring their influence on our history, our identity, our culture, and our daily lives.
- Educate the public about American writers – past and present
- Engage visitors to the Museum in exploring the many exciting worlds created by the spoken and written word
- Enrich and deepen appreciation for good writing in all its forms
- Inspire visitors to discover, or rediscover, a love of reading and writing
Through innovative and dynamic state-of-the-art exhibitions, as well as compelling programming, the American Writers Museum will educate, enrich, provoke, and inspire the public.”
There will be twelve permanent exhibits and galleries, which include a Writer’s Hall, A Nation of Writers, American Voices, Surprise Bookshelf, Word Waterfall, Word Play, Writer’s Room, Featured Works, Readers Hall, The Mind of a Writer, Chicago Writers: Visionaries and Trouble Makers Gallery, and a Children’s Literature Gallery. There will also be special changing showcases, which will feature AWM produced exhibitions or those on loan from other organizations. And what museum would be complete without a gift shop?
Some exhibits, such as the Writer’s Hall, A Nation of Writers, and the American Voices Hall will be more informative in nature. For instance, The A Nation of Writers Hall will give a presentation on what to expect and ponder as you explore the AWM. The American Voices Hall takes you through a history of American literature that will, through narration, present 100 prominent literary figures throughout American history.
Other exhibits will be more interactive. The Surprise Bookshelf will have lighted boxes that teach interesting tidbits about classic works, while The Mind of a Writer Gallery allows patrons to help create a collaborative story by adding a sentence or paragraph to a work started by staff members earlier in the day. The finished story can be downloaded at the end of the day and kept as a souvenir. The Word Play exhibit explores linguistics through interactive games that allow visitors to create new words, experiment with word choice to see the way it changes a sentence’s meaning, and a “guess the author” quiz.
Exhibits like the Word Waterfall will be more reflective and meditative in nature. Words from a projector cascade down the wall in a mesmerizing waterfall, organizing themselves into sentences or paragraphs. The Reading Hall will offer seating for films, readings, lectures, interpretive exhibits, and special events and double as a general purpose seating area. There will also be an area for the children to explore famous American children’s authors, so you can get your tot on the bookworm path early!
AWM’s first “guest exhibits” will be the iconic Jack Kerouac scroll, which will be showcased in the Writer’s Room Hall. The gallery reserved for changing exhibits will spotlight the poet W.S. Merwin and will be a stunning, immersive tribute featuring a living forest, spoken word poetry, and an interactive poetry space. The exhibit was created by the artist duo Sayler/Morris will have its international debut in Chicago’s very own American Writer’s Museum.
These are just a few examples of the bookish treasures that await exploration in Chicago. So pack up the suitcases and head to the Windy City for a bibliophile fix, and don’t forget to try the pizza!
YouTube Channel: The American Writers Museum
Featured image via Crain’s Chicago Business