Writers Museum opens

Heads up readers, writers and writer wannabes.

Lobby of American Writers Museum in Chicago. Photo by Jodie Jacobs
Lobby of American Writers Museum in Chicago. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

There is a suite of rooms where you can go to soak up inspiration, visit authors, try an interactive literary game and learn where authors’ homes are across the country. The place also has a charming children’s lit space.

This amazing suite is the American Writers Museum opening to the public May 16. Spread across the second floor of a vintage building at 180 N. Michigan Ave., it is easy to wander at approximately 11,000 square feet.

But oh, what is packed into this tiny museum gem is amazing.

Imagine a wall that is, in a way, a bookshelf where the front of lit boxes can be slid sideways for info about a novelist, non-fiction author, poet or song writer.

Fill in the blanks a a game console at the American Writers Museum. Jodie Jacob s photo
Fill in the blanks a a game console at the American Writers Museum. Jodie Jacob s photo

Look for the room with a game console where one or two players can  guess what words should fill in the blanks of a famed piece of literature.

Then go to the Readers Hall, an open space where talks are given but also where visitors can vote for their favorite books and authors.

Another fun space has the Featured Works Table where you tap a symbol on a ribbon and it will move over to you to tell you about its genre, author or work.

Or walk along a 60-foot wall that gives examples of literary works beginning back with Native American lore.

Wall of literary history at American Writers.Jodie Jacobs photo
Wall of literary history at American Writers.Jodie Jacobs photo

Create your own literary work in the Story of the Day room. Do it the old-fashioned way with pencil and paper or typewriter, or you can use digital media. Post it on the wall, take it home or add it online to the museum’s “story of the day.”

Want to get into a groove to write? There is “Anatomy of a Masterwork,” a wall that includes such author work habits as have a cigarette, get a drink, etc. But you can touch screens that make sense to you.

Do stop at the Children’s Literature Gallery.  It is likely to remind you of books read or books you read to your children. The artwork is gorgeous. There is a place to read or come back for an author story-time.

Children's books and pictures might encourage young readers to write their own stories. Jodie Jacobs photo
Children’s books and pictures might encourage young readers to write their own stories. Jodie Jacobs photo

Before leaving, look at the map that shows what authors live near you.

The museum is small but absorbing the information in its exhibits and doing the interactive stations could take half a day.

BTW, you might even bump into a writer while there.

On a recent visit to check out the museum, award-winning author Francine Pappadis Friedman who had been wandering through the rooms, took time to chat.

“I’m so impressed by the AWM’s beautiful layout with so many interesting and fun interactive exhibits,” Friedman said.

“The tables were turned: as a writer and former English and journalism teacher, I was the one who learned so much  about many authors—some of whom were “new” to me—just by visiting the museum.

Of the spaces that spoke to her, one particular one stood out.

“One of my favorite sections was The Writer’s Room, a rotating gallery that will highlight the lives and works of American authors.  The current author that is highlighted is Jack Kerouac, with his phenomenal manuscript’s scroll on display, “ she said.

Friedman believes the AWM will be a destination. “I’ve already mentioned it to many of my friends, and we’re getting our calendars out and making plans to visit it.”

Details: American Writers Museum, opening May 16, 2017, is at 180 N. Michigan Ave., Second Floor, Chicago, IL 60601. For admission, hours and other information call (312) 374-8790  and visit American Writers Museum

 

 

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