Chicago artist opens U.S. Pizza Museum

With museum, Chicago gets a slice of the pizza history pie

By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer

Published September 5, 2018

Everyone knows pizza has long been big business in Chicago. With dozens of restaurants all through the city and suburbs offering a wide variety of styles and traditions, it is no surprise that Chicago is known as a destination city for pizza aficionados.

The newly opened U.S. Pizza Museum. Photo by Angela Gagnon

But now there’s more than pizza. Last month the U.S. Pizza Museum opened at the Roosevelt Collection Shop, 150 Roosevelt Road, adding an important side dish to the meal itself—history.

Kendall Bruns founded the museum several years ago as a series of pop-up events at various pizza restaurants. With gathered steam—and funding—he is hoping to make the Roosevelt Collection address a permanent home of his pizza memorabilia. Indeed, the museum itself is less a collection of pizza lore and myth as it is a collection of pop culture ephemera—important to pizza lovers of the late 20th century and a fun trip down memory lane for most people.

An ode to Chicago-style pizza at the new museum. Photo by Angela Gagnon.

The space opened Aug. 10 and judging from the people waiting to go inside, there are plenty of people who are interested in checking it out.

“We’re just here to learn about pizza and Chicago,” said museum visitor Shaheen Thasa.

The pizza museum made national news and, maybe predictably, the announcement was met with outrage among New York City pizza fans who took to Twitter to complain that any pizza museum should belong to New York.

“I’m not biased or anything, but Chicago pizza is the best,” Thasa said. Bruns, the founder, has taken pains to remain neutral in the debate. He displays memorabilia from around the United States and in interview after interview, he would not pick a favorite style of pie.

Bruns describes himself as a pizza agnostic and said the national social media debate about his museum was not intentional.

Bruns said he hopes pizza unites more than it divides.

“People can get passionate, but it doesn’t have to be this division,” he said. Bruns said any type of pizza can be tasty.

The collection of pizza memorabilia is located in the Roosevelt Collection. Photo by Angela Gagnon.

“I enjoy all different styles of pizza,” he said. “And everyone should.”

He explained that the food should unify Americans because whatever style they grew up eating, the food itself has a special place in most peoples’ memories.

“People have this connection to their memories of the pizza they ate growing up,” he explained.

Another visitor said good pizza depends less on the region and more on the preparation.

“I think any pizza that has a hand-tossed crust, grated mozzarella cheese and home-
made sauce is good,” said museum visitor Daniel Gulco.

To find out more about the U.S. Pizza Museum, its hours and ticket prices, visit uspizzamuseum.com

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