Ruth & I visited one of the best new museums in the United States on this date. There was no way to prepare ourselves for its greatness. The fact that it spoke to an interest of ours was a sideline bonus, but it will definitely interest others too. Everyone there was clearly enjoying him or herself. We spent hours exploring its chosen realm, the American writer. It’s called the American Writers Museum, it’s only 4-years old, and it’s at 180 North Michigan Avenue just up the street from Millennium Park and the Art Institute that most travelers visit while in Chicago. I hope many visitors check it out while there.
Its first delight was free bookmarks. I chose Mark Twain from among the American writers available, and am using him in Lincoln Highway. Several of the author slots were so popular that they were empty. While I drooled, Ruth went to the first room devoted to American children’s literature and settled in. I soon joined her there to learn what I didn’t know about authors whose specialty is or was children. Ruth was already rereading Charlotte’s Web and Goodnight Moon and reminiscing about teaching while I was learning that Louisa May Alcott, who wrote Little Women, also wrote a book called Hospital Sketches about her work as an army nurse during The Civil War. I next listened intently as Langston Hughes read 3 of his own favorite poems, and then I moved on to the next area.
I was soon engrossed in a splendid journey is an area called Nation of Writers that traced the careers in countless ways of 100 featured American authors, some of whom are not well known like personal favorite Cabeza de Vaca. This section ended with barely known writer Oscar Hijuelos.
Ruth caught up with me at a tribute to librarians in a Word Waterfall. I hurried on to a display of dedicated Chicago writers mostly from the past. I relived my admiration for Mike Royco, Ann Landers, Edna Ferber, and Roger Ebert.
The American Writers Museum will always feature an American icon, and the current featured icon is Ray Bradbury. He will be honored until some time in 2022, and I thoroughly enjoyed reliving some of his greatest books and short stories. I especially enjoyed seeing his Emmy and being glued to family reminiscences provided by his granddaughter.
The organizers of this museum had the good sense to provide areas that appeal to readers in the form of places where they can select reading material and read in comfort. The genius behind this special museum is a man named Malcolm O’Hagan who believed that American writers deserve a home all their own.
I will close with a favored quote in this museum from a Chicago writer I was not familiar with. Octavia E. Butler said, “You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff. and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence. It’s just so easy to give up!”