One of the newest additions to Chicago’s incredible museum scene, the American Writers Museum is located on the second floor of an office building situated at 180 N. Michigan Avenue—which is found on the west side of the Magnificent Mile just two blocks south of the Chicago River and one block north of Millennium Park. This exciting new facility is devoted to celebrating the rich history of American literature and the power of the written word to influence and shape our world. Consisting of numerous interactive galleries that share stories of past writers and aim to inspire the writers of today, the American Writers Museum is a can’t-miss attraction for anyone who has ever fallen in love with a book.
American Writers Museum History and Background Information
The history of the American Writers Museum dates all the way back to 2009, when the American Writers Museum Foundation was established for the purpose of planning a museum dedicated to honoring the contributions of American writers to American society. In 2011 Chicago was chosen to be the site of this unique facility. In 2015, the 180 N. Michigan Avenue location was selected as the future site of the Museum—which finally opened to the public in 2017.
What’s at theAmerican Writers Museum
The American Writers Museum consists of a mixture of temporary and permanent exhibits. Previous temporary exhibits have been devoted to the work of notable figures such as Laura Ingalls Wilder, W.S. Merwin, Frederick Douglass, and Bob Dylan. Popular permanent exhibits on display at the American Writers Museum include the Children’s Literature Gallery, a fun space devoted to lovely murals and interactive tools that detail many of the works of children’s literature that have been beloved favorites for decades; A Nation of Writers, a who’s-who of traditional great American authors; and the Chicago Gallery, which specifically highlights famous literary artists with strong ties to the Windy City.
If you’ve ever wanted to type up your own poem or short story on a beautiful vintage typewriter, make sure not to miss the Mind of a Writer Gallery. There you can use multiple different sorts of typewriters, as well as play several trivia and/or word games that test your knowledge of American literary history and the English language.
The American Writers Museum frequently hosts special events, too. Ranging from story-time sessions for small children to free-writing programs encouraging students to puts words on the page to lecture talks given by acclaimed scholars and authors, the American Writers Museum is a community hotbed for literary activity. A calendar of events on their website has all the latest details you’ll need to know if you’re interested in trying to include one of these outings in your visit.
The American Writers Museum also contains a small gift shop. There you’ll find an assortment of books, notebooks, pens, pencils, mugs, and souvenirs perfect for your favorite book lover and/or writer. Food and/or drink are not available on-site, but there are plenty of dining options to be found all around the Museum.
Tips for Visiting the American Writers Museum
- The American Writers Museum is one of the included attractions on the Go Chicago Card. Drop by for a short visit after taking the Chicago Theater Tour. It’s also also included on the Explorer Pass but at $12, it’s better to just pay admission at the ticket booth.
- Don’t be intimidated: the entrance to the American Writers Museum is indeed unconventional. Still, it’s not hard to find if you know where you’re going. Just simply enter the lobby of the office building at 180 N. Michigan, walk past the front desk, and take one of the elevators there to the second floor. It’s as easy as that!
- The American Writers Museum is open every day of the week between the hours of 10:00am and 5:00pm.
- Admission is free for all children under the age of 12.
- There is no parking available right at the American Writers Museum. However, given its prominent location in downtown Chicago, there are a number of parking garages to be found in the general vicinity of the Museum. The closest is probably the Grant Park North Garage—where you can also get a discounted rate for visiting the Museum. There are also many convenient ways to get here via public transportation.