There is a museum for almost anything in America. Albuquerque, NM is home to the American National Rattlesnake Museum. Philadelphia boasts the Mütter Museum, a collection of medical oddities. Besides all its famed art museums, New York also has the Museum of Sex. But where is the museum for writers?
By 2015, Chicago will have the first national museum for writers, the American Writers Museum, made possible by a second grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded on February 4th according to Fine Books & Collections.
Malcolm O’Hagan founded the American Writers Museum Foundation in Washington, D.C. more than three years ago with the dream of opening a museum for lovers of literature. After hearing pitches from several cities, he picked Chicago. “When I grew up in Ireland, it was Chicago I would think of as the real America,” he told the Chicago Tribune in 2011 when the city was chosen for the prospective proejct.
O’Hagan, an Irish immigrant and retired engineer, may seem like an unlikely champion of the American Writers Museum, but Dublin has always had a rich literary history as home to James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, and Oscar Wilde just to name a few. The city’s own writers museum houses an impressive 300 years of literary tradition.
Chicago may be turning into America’s Dublin. Ernest Hemingway, Raymond Chandler, and Gwendolyn Brooks were all born in Chicago. The city is also home of the Poetry Foundation and the American Library Association.