Stories Coming to Life

Tuesday, Mar 28, 2017
Close up view inside a Dutch theological book

Did you know that the United States does not have a writers museum? We celebrate authors and have museums for visual arts (among many other things), but we don't really have a museum for writers and their books.

An article from Smithsonian.com recently caught our eye, not only for its content but because it also resembles something happening locally.

America’s First Writers Museum Is Slated to Open in May - A new home for celebrating American literary titans, titles and traditions takes root in Chicago. The key to the project, say its developers, has been figuring out how to bring the stories to life and create interactive, immersive experiences, something that goes beyond the mere reading of books:

. . . “The book sitting there by itself is meaningless to most people unless [one is] a scholar. The important thing is the story of the book.”

Museums are typically places that house collections, but to see long rows of books, one need only visit a library. Instead, O’Hagan conceived the American Writers Museum as a temple for the act of reading and writing, featuring American masters of the craft.

Andrew Anway, the founder of museum and exhibit design firm Amaze Design, was given this seemingly impossible mission: translate the intimate, solitary experience of reading a book into a series of interactive exhibits that allow visitors to be informed about and inspired by the creative process of America’s greatest novelists, poets, journalists and playwrights—and do it without books. . . .

The Rabbit Hole logo, with images from children's books added

The article says that the project has been in process for nearly a decade. Kansas City's Pete Cowdin and Debbie Pettid, artists and former owners of the Reading Reptile, a celebrated children’s bookstore and cultural center for 27 years, are a couple of years into a similar process. They recently closed their store to focus on creating The Rabbit Hole, their vision for a center for the children's book.

They are calling it the world's first Explorastorium:

Crawl, walk, and climb through an evolving array of immersive storybook worlds and ever-changing galleries dedicated to the very best of children’s literature. Meet visiting authors and illustrators, learn about their work, view original book art both classic and contemporary, catch a show in the theater, visit the printing press and bindery, stop by the library, check out the archive, pen your own stories in the writing lab, work on special projects with resident authors and illustrators, browse the bookstore for a shared memory to take home.

The Rabbit Hole promises an unparalleled experience for both children and adults-- an immersive laboratory of creativity, education, discovery, and play -- dedicated to literacy and the literary arts through the advancement, preservation and celebration of the children's book.

Visit The Rabbit Hole's website to learn more and find ways to support the project.

We agree: the world needs more stories come to life.