Celebrating two years at the American Writers Museum

(Published July 30, 2019)

Elisa Shoenbergeer, Staff writer

The American Writers Museum celebrated its two year anniversary in May 2019.

This museum, located at 180 N. Michigan Avenue on the 2nd floor, first opened its doors in May 2017. Since opening their doors, the museum has had over 80,000 visitors and around 10,000 students, according to Carey Cranston, President of the Museum.

When asked why the museum’s work is so important, Cranston explained, “The country was founded on the written word. It’s very much a part of the fabric of our culture how important that writing has been.” He cited the example of Frederick Douglass whose work on slavery helped change the history of the US.

In its two years, the museum featured special exhibitions on Bob Dylan, Frederick Douglass as well as bringing in authors and scholars, such as Nnedi Okorafor and Justice Sonia Sotomayor, to speak about their work. 

Moreover, the museum’s education program has grown in the past two years.  In the first year, the museum had a grant to make field trips free for under resourced schools to bring the students into the museum, explained Cranston. The museum has developed curriculum for kids during their time at the visit as well as lessons before and after the visit for teachers.

This past year, the museum was able to offer travel subsidies since bringing the students to the museum was a barrier for some schools. Cranston explained that this field trip programs helped inspire kids about writing. When they had Justice Sonia Sotomayor speak about her children’s book, Turning Pages: My Life Story, school children from Horace Greeley Elementary School had the opportunity to meet with her before her talk in the Green room and ask questions of her during her talk to a room of 700 people.

Recently, the museum opened up “Tools of the Trade” at the end of June that features the typewriters of many American writers, such as John Lennon, Ernest Hemmingway, Ray Bradbury, Sandra Cisneros and many more. The museum found that visitors were fascinated by manual typewriters ever since the museum opened. “We found people loved the old manual typewriters,” said Cranton. “When the kids on the field trips come, they go nuts for the chance to type on them.” The museum worked with Steve Soboroff, a collector and philanthropist, along with other institutions to bring the typewriters of famous authors to the museum. 

The exhibit will be open until 2020.

The museum is open daily from 10am to 5pm.

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