Yes, Virginia, there is an American Writers Museum

It’s in Chicago’s Loop with an entrance that’s hard to find on Google Maps. Instead, follow that old book scent. Or just look for this sign on Michigan Avenue.

After you finish gawking at the books on the ceiling, begin your life-affirming trip through the The American Writers Museum in a long hallway of the country’s great crits, conservationists, comedians, cooks and cultural contributors.

Along one side is a timeline of American history to put in context the row of authors below. Descriptions of their life and work explain how they shaped our country’s consciousness. Interactive displays include a touchscreen of literary academics talking about the recurring themes in American writing and, a favorite, a display of materials described in “Little House on the Prairie” (fox fur, calico, etc.) that you can touch.

The other side of the hallway offers boxes with names of some of the most influential writing in American history.

Flip the boxes around to smell Julia Child’s chocolate chip cookies, hear an “Oh! Susanna” refrain, listen to a presidential speech or find a new fact about one of your favorite writers.

Have Tupac stuck in your head the rest of the exhibit.

A Word Waterfall explores the range of American identity and injustice.

A special exhibit showcases Kerouac’s famous scroll that became “On the Road.”

Quotes remind you you’re not writing and maybe should when you get back home. But it’s cool you tried to be human for once.

Get inspired by the room of Chicago writers and literary heroes.

Find out what you have in common with famous writers. Here’s mine. Not listed: A constant insecure ache that our writing sucks and also addiction issues!

Discover your state’s most iconic writers on an interactive display (Lorraine Hansberry FTW).

Take home a bookmark with a shoutout to your state writer… or the one with the quote you like best.

Cry like the big baby you are in the kids’ book gallery and promise yourself to get a copy of “Where the Wild Things Are” for your home library.

Check out the gift store.

Plan a date to go back because you have so much left to read about!

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