History & Mission
The mission of the American Writers Museum is to engage the public in celebrating American writers and exploring their influence on our history, our identity, our culture, and our daily lives.
The American Writers Museum strives to:
- Educate the public about American writers – past and present
- Engage visitors to the Museum in exploring the many exciting worlds created by the spoken and written word
- Enrich and deepen appreciation for good writing in all its forms
- Motivate visitors to discover, or rediscover, a love of reading and writing
- Inspire the young writers of tomorrow
- TIMELINE OF MUSEUM DEVELOPMENT
- November 2009
The American Writers Museum Foundation (AWM) is incorporated as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt corporation to establish an American writers museum.
- March 2010
Mayer Brown LLP accepts the Foundation as a pro bono client, and provides the Foundation with its first office at 1999 K Street NW, Washington, DC. Smithsonian Institution strategy team provides guidance on museum development.
- April 2010
Executive Planning Team formed to develop the Museum. Boston-based museum design firm Amaze Design is retained. Conceptual work begins, as does consideration of potential host
- August 2010
In a meeting with AWM President, Mayor Richard Daley expresses strong support for hosting the Museum in Chicago.
- May 2011
Chicago selected as the preferred location for the Museum. In the years ahead, various locations in downtown Chicago will be evaluated as possible venues.
- June 2011
National Advisory Council is established. The first of many supportive articles to be published nationwide over the coming years, the Chicago Tribune writes of our plan to establish a national American Writers Museum in Chicago
- August 2011
The National Endowment for the Humanities awards a grant for the development of a detailed concept plan for the Museum. Additional funding is provided by the Stead Family Foundation.
- September/October 2011
More than two dozen scholars, exhibition designers, literati, and educators begin a series of meetings in Chicago, New York, Washington and Boston to discuss the content and design of the museum.
- November 2011
In a meeting with AWM leaders, Mayor Rahm Emanuel pledges “full and enthusiastic support” for establishing the Museum in Chicago.
- May 2012
AWM launches its first online exhibit The Power of the Word – Leaders, Readers, Writers.
- June 2012
AWM receives a grant from Exelon Corporation to conduct a funding feasibility study
- January 2013
The National Endowment for the Humanities issues another grant for developing the final design plan of the Museum
- June 2013
AWM establishes an affiliate network of author homes and author home museums. The Wall Street Journal publishes a complimentary article on the Museum plans.
- July 2013
AWM retains Cambell & Company as fundraising council.
- January 2014
AWM engages Nike B. Whitcomb Associates Inc. to consult on pre-opening campaign and establish a Chicago office for the organization.
- June 2014
AWM Board of Directors appointed. AWM receives a grant from the Chicago Community Trust to have an independent consulting firm conduct a feasibility study on funding, visitor engagement, site analysis, and economic sustainability
- August 2014
Grants from the Chicago Community Trust and S&C Electric fund a traveling exhibit From Our Neighborhoods: Four Chicago Writers Who Changed America that travels to cultural centers and libraries throughout Chicago. AWM retains architects Gensler & Associates for interior and graphic design services.
- September 2014
The Content Leadership Team starts its work on the literary content of the Museum. Over fifty experts from various fields and from across the nation contribute to the content development.
- October 2015
AWM enters into a lease for its future museum location at 180 N. Michigan Avenue.
- July 2016
BMO Harris Bank, Penguin Random House, and MacMillan sign sponsorship agreements.
- September 2016
Wintrust Bank becomes a major sponsor of the AWM.
- October 2016
At a press conference, AWM officially announces the Museum’s location. The New York Times comments “American Writers Museum Finds a Nice Address in Chicago.”
AWM hires inaugural President
- January 2017
Hachette Publishing becomes the newest publishing sponsor of the AWM.
- February 2017
At a press conference, AWM announces that the Museum will open to the public on May 16, 2017
- May 16, 2017
The Museum opens to the public.