With interactive exhibits and galleries focusing on authors both local and national—including Eudora Welty, James Baldwin, and Zora Neale Hurston—the new American Writers Museum is an ode to the written word on Michigan Avenue.
If language is a living thing, ever morphing to meet the ways we communicate, writing is right there giving shape to voices of every sort. The newly opened American Writers Museum (AWM) chronicles and celebrates the individuals whose way with words create a richly layered national expression. Encompassing the canon and the common, from poetry and novels to journalism and comic books, Chicago’s latest cultural institution is no old-school athenaeum. “We’re not putting books under glass,” assures museum president Carey Cranston. “The AWM is very interactive, more like a science museum than a library.”
The exhibits—developed by Boston’s Amaze Design—include a map that allows visitors to plug in a ZIP code and learn about writers from their neck of the woods, and Word Waterfall, an art-like installation of imagery and sound spun of passages from famous works. AWM programming will include readings, workshops, and temporary exhibitions, such as an inaugural display featuring the 120-foot long roll of paper on which Jack Kerouac typed his generation-defining novel On the Road. Like a good book, the American Writers Museum is bound to be revisited, again and again. 180 N. Michigan Ave., Second Fl., 312-374-8790; americanwritersmuseum.org