American Writers Museum Plans Released

For over a year, the American Writers Museum Foundation has been working to develop a plan for a site focused on honoring great U.S. authors. On July 16th, the organization released a detailed outline for such a museum.

The museum, which will likely be built in Chicago, Illinois, will cover 60,000 feet, according to the foundation. The goal is to have the first 20,000 feet completed by 2015. Funded by the Stead Family Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, the idea is the brainchild of numerous authors, museum workers and designers from New York, Boston and Chicago.

Jim Leach, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, explained:

“There is a void in the American museum world. We collect in central points the artifacts of civilization and honor politicians and soldiers, athletes and artists, inventors and entrepreneurs, but we neglect our writers. In a country established as an idea explicated in written documents and embellished by generations of poets, novelists and critics, the case for commemorating the written word is self-evident. After all, what is written describes a people and what is celebrated defines their values.”

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The museum concept plan, published by the American Writers Museum Foundation, adds:

“Here is what The American Writers Museum will be: It will be a place where diverse audiences have unique and unexpected encounters with American writers and writing; it will be a place with engagement so compelling it will be a must-see, must-do part of the nation’s cultural landscape.”

The museum layout will feature several attractions, including an education center, theater, bookstore, literary lounge and café. The writers’ hall will be arranged in several themed sets, such as ‘American Towns’, ‘Conflict’, and ‘American Families.’ Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, or The Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder, for example, could be found in the American Families wing.