A museum and library is opening in a new home in Indianapolis on 9 November, in honour of internationally-renowned local author, Kurt Vonnegut. It will feature a re-creation of his writing studio and a “freedom of expression exhibition,” and will host exhibitions and programs that highlight the legacy of his work.
The late Vonnegut took an unflinching look at the world, tempered with a satirical eye and sardonic sense of humour, and the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library champions his literary, artistic and cultural contributions. An organisation was founded in 2019 initially to celebrate all things Vonnegut, and to go into schools, prisons and veterans’ groups to offer educational opportunities about his life and work. "As founder, I was interested in Vonnegut's books, but I was more interested in his fascinating life and ability to survive tragedies and move on with humor and kindness, despite the cruelty he experienced by others," founder Julia Whitehead tells Lonely Planet.
The museum and library originally opened in a donated storefront in 2011, housing Vonnegut’s Purple Heart medal, his drawings and a replica of his typewriter. When the lease expired in early 2019, a decision was made to open the museum in a permanent space on Indiana Avenue. The organisation was able to raise the $1.5 million (€1.69 million) needed to acquire the building, which includes a re-creation of Vonnegut’s writing studio, an exhibition on Vonnegut and his love of jazz, and a “freedom of expression" exhibition.
This exhibition is where visitors can find the 100 books most frequently banned in libraries and schools across the US, including Vonnegut’s "Slaughterhouse Five." It will also explore his efforts to preserve freedom of expression and limit censorship. Additional updates will be made to exhibitions about Vonnegut’s life and work that will feature items from the organization’s large collection, which includes his reading glasses.
"The building will also be used as a community gathering space for music, comedy, authors and poets," says Julia Whitehead. "We’ve been overwhelmed with appreciation for the 1400 donors who helped us purchase the building and many others who are reaching out to us to volunteer."
For further information on the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library, please see here.