American Writers Museum gets a design plan

A museum planned to honor America's literature is slated to be opened in Chicago by late 2020, if funding requirements can be met.

M. Spencer Green/AP
The American Writers Museum is projected to be built in Chicago.

The people working to turn the dream of an American Writers Museum into a reality have created a more detailed plan about what the museum would look like and the exhibits it would contain. 

As we reported earlier, the American Writers Museum Foundation released a concept plan for the museum almost a year ago. The newest document is a prospectus for the “first edition” of the museum, according to AWMF president Malcolm O’Hagan. The “first edition” would be the first exhibits in the planned museum and will be housed in an existing structure in Chicago, with a planned opening date of 2015. The full museum is expected to be completed by 2020.

Per the current plans, the First Edition version will include a Hall of Writers, which would include figures from Thomas Jefferson to Ralph Ellison, as well as a section called "Writing Chicago," which would explore the literary history of the Windy City. Other sections will include a gallery titled "Creating an American Literature," which would discuss how authors of the US developed a distinctive national voice, and also a gallery titled "Mysteries, Dark Tales, Western Adventures," which would center on whodunit, Western, and horror titles. 

A Children’s Gallery and a section titled "We Will Be Heard," which would explore how groups such as women and minorities have struggled to carve out a place in American literature, would also be part of the First Edition exhibits, according to the prospectus.

The prospectus also includes endorsements and a business plan. Check out the full document here.

“There is a void in the American museum world,” Jim Leach, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, said within the text of the prospectus. “In a country established as an idea explicated in written documents and embellished by generations of poets, novelists, and critics, the case for commemorating the written word is self-evident.”

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