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updated: 2/21/2017 5:38 PM

American Writers Museum to open May 16 in Chicago

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  • The Surprise Bookshelf is one of the exhibits in the new American Writers Museum, which opens May 16 in Chicago.

    The Surprise Bookshelf is one of the exhibits in the new American Writers Museum, which opens May 16 in Chicago.
    Courtesy of American Writers Museum

  • The Word Waterfall is one of the exhibits in the new American Writers Museum, which opens May 16 in downtown Chicago.

    The Word Waterfall is one of the exhibits in the new American Writers Museum, which opens May 16 in downtown Chicago.
    Courtesy of American Writers Museum

  • Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel addresses the crowd Tuesday during a preview event for the new American Writers Museum on Michigan Avenue. The museum opens May 16.

      Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel addresses the crowd Tuesday during a preview event for the new American Writers Museum on Michigan Avenue. The museum opens May 16.
    Photo by Jamie Sotonoff | Staff Photographer

  • Interactive video displays are part of the new American Writers Museum in Chicago. It opens May 16.

      Interactive video displays are part of the new American Writers Museum in Chicago. It opens May 16.
    Photo by Jamie Sotonoff | Staff Photographer

 
 

American Writers Museum, a first-of-its-kind national museum that celebrates more than 300 American writers ranging from Studs Terkel to Dr. Seuss, will open in downtown Chicago May 16.

The new museum will occupy the second floor of 180 N. Michigan Ave., an area dubbed Chicago's "cultural mile" because of its proximity to museums, theaters and colleges.

"This will be a tremendous addition," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said during a press preview Tuesday.

Finishing touches are now being put on the museum's five permanent galleries, two changing galleries and event space. Each space contains artifacts and interactive screens to teach visitors about the nation's most notable writers, including e.e. cummings, Isaac Asimov, Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King, Judy Blume, Erica Jong and more.

One creative space is the "Word Waterfall," where words float down a screen and assemble in unique ways. "The Surprise Bookshelf" includes edge-lit boxes with a writing example that slide open to reveal something interesting about the work. In "The Mind of a Writer" gallery, works are examined more closely, to understand each writer's mindset and methodology.

Chicago writers get their own exhibit space overlooking Michigan Avenue. "Chicago Writers: Visionaries and Troublemakers" will include the work of influential local writers Nelson Algren, Gwendolyn Brooks, Carl Sandburg, Ida B. Wells and others.

Museum President Carey Cranston said writers were not included based on sales but on their American identity and edge, which is why a sports writer and science fiction writer are among those chosen.

The museum is in a final fundraising push so it can develop programming and bring in writers and scholars from around the country. For more information, visit americanwritersmuseum.org.

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