Museum dedicated to Ray Bradbury taking shape in Waukegan

  • The Ray Bradbury Museum Committee meets to discuss plans to commemorate the legendary author and Waukegan native.

    The Ray Bradbury Museum Committee meets to discuss plans to commemorate the legendary author and Waukegan native. Courtesy of the Ray Bradbury Museum Committee

 
Posted12/20/2017 12:42 PM

Submitted by the Ray Bradbury Museum Committee

The Ray Bradbury Museum Committee has engaged Chicago Exhibit Productions, a top Chicago exhibit shop, to design and build a 3,500-square-foot experience museum dedicated to renowned author and Waukegan native Ray Bradbury. The Committee will open the museum in the heart of downtown Waukegan at 13 N. Genesee St.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The museum will engage visitors in immersive experiences springing from themes explored by Ray Bradbury throughout his long writing career, including freedom of expression, magic, space exploration, the boundaries of human endeavor, comics, and more.

Bradbury fan and longtime admirer of the historic Carnegie Library in Waukegan, CEP designer Keith Michalek views this project as "an ideal opportunity to break new ground in museum practice and take the museum into unique locations, environments, and future expansions."

"A storefront museum is a strategically sound approach," Committee Chair Sandra Petroshius said. "The DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago began in a living room and the Kurt Vonnegut Library and Museum is housed in a downtown Indianapolis storefront."

Leslie Sockness, CEP's Account VP, is no less enthusiastic about the project.

"With the hometown connection to Ray Bradbury and the future museum's location along the Chicago-Milwaukee corridor, we saw the potential immediately," she said.

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The committee's plans have attracted interest from throughout the United States, Ireland, and the United Kingdon.

"Fans in every corner of the world, and probably on Mars too, celebrate Waukegan's Ray Bradbury," committee member Pat O'Keefe said. "They are hungry for a chance to see in real life the settings of 'Dandelion Wine' and 'Something Wicked This Way Comes.'"

An HBO miniseries of Bradbury's dystopian "Fahrenheit 451" is in production, underscoring that Bradbury's works live on undimmed. Each year students throughout the nation and the world discover his works.

"Donors are attracted to this museum plan because it is accomplishable and will enhance the economic development of downtown Waukegan," said Michael Edgar, President of Greater Waukegan Development Coalition. "The museum will be a catalyst for Waukegan becoming a real tourist destination for people from throughout the region, the nation, and the world."

The museum is currently a program of GWDC, a nonprofit economic development organization.

Traveling exhibits and programs, such as art exhibits, dramatic performances, writer's workshops, academic symposiums, comic conventions, and movie festivals, are part of the Committee's vision for the experience museum. The museum committee's plans have received endorsements from Mayor Sam Cunningham, fourth Ward Alderman David Villalobos, Waukegan Main Street, and the Waukegan Arts Council.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Future plans focus on renovating Waukegan's historic Carnegie Library, "Ray Bradbury's Library," featured in "Something Wicked This Way Comes" and other works. The building is significant for historical preservation and has "good bones," according to architects.

The Carnegie Library, also located right in downtown Waukegan, overlooks Lake Michigan. With its five floors, rounded walls, its mix of bright and spooky spaces, this historic structure makes an ideal home for the next phase of the Ray Bradbury Museum, according to the committee.

Professor Jonathan Eller, Ph.D., Director of the Ray Bradbury Studies Center, IUPUI, and Ray Bradbury Museum Committee Advisor, says the Carnegie Library was an "abiding inspiration" for Bradbury.

Eller describes Bradbury as one of the best-known American writers of his time with a professional writing career of more than 70 years, publishing more than 400 stories, many appearing in more than 1,000 English language textbooks and anthologies, as well as in more than 30 Bradbury story collections and novels.

"For the next two years, we're fundraising, brainstorming, and spreading the word about this long overdue tribute in Waukegan, to native son, Ray Bradbury. We invite everyone to visit the future site and volunteer to have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be part of opening a museum," Petroshius said.

The Committee plans to open the museum in 2020, the 100th anniversary of Bradbury's birth. Donations and volunteers are welcome.

For more information, visit RayBradburyMuseum.org, email info@raybradburymuseum.org or call (847) 372-6183.

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