Plans Underway For 'American Writers Museum'

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There are estimated to be well over 17,000 museums in the United States. Philadelphia has the Mutter Museum of Medical History, there's a Spam museum in Austin, Minnesota, and La Crosse, Kansas, has a museum devoted to barbed wire — to name a few.

We are a country based on the written word, starting with the Declaration of Independence.

Malcolm O'Hagan

But there is a glaring oversight, according to Malcolm O’Hagan: a museum celebrating American writers. O'Hagan is the chairman of the American Writers Museum Foundation, and his organization is in the process of opening the American Writers Museum in Chicago.

The idea came to O’Hagan when he visited the Dublin Writers Museum in Ireland and expected to find its counterpart in the United States. He was "astounded" to learn it doesn’t exist.

The American Writers Museum seeks to bring literature to the people through exhibits that visitors can interact with, and that put the writers' works in a historical and cultural context.

“We are a country based on the written word, starting with the Declaration of Independence,” O’Hagan said. “Whitman has told us who we are, defined what it is to be an American. Steinbeck has shown the plight of the migrant worker. So these writings are all very important and very significant."

The American Writers Museum is expected to open in some form at the end of 2015, and to be completed by 2020.


This segment aired on July 12, 2013.


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