I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Tuesday – and subsequently bombarded Twitter with Instagram photographs of the wonders within.
It houses an intellectual array of artifacts stretching from Ancient Egyptian mummies, to Modern Art masterpieces, to a Contemporary work known as “Cloud City”, sans Lando Calrissian. Any visit to New York City is folly without stepping foot inside its halls.
This – as well as Hannah Karena Jones’ piece on authors’ writing desks – got me thinking: Why isn’t there a museum dedicated to writers?
There are museums and landmarks dedicated to a single author, most usually in their birthplace city or adopted hometown, but there does not exist a centralized, collective hub of the American writer.
It seems strange – America has museums for actors, musicians, athletes, politicians, wars, artists, and scientists – yet nothing to commemorate those who helped shape this country with ink and paper. Nothing for those who enlivened our imaginations and hearts with fantastical tales, tear-jerking drama, worry-free comedy, goosebump horror, and thought-provoking essays; nothing for those who shaped generations and cultures with the stroke of their pen.
And, more often than not, the history of America is best framed by those who captured its soul in written pages.
I am not alone in my thoughts, and there is a push to construct an American Writers Museum; its 30-page Concept Plan outlines a terrific view of what it could look like. The website offers anyone the ability to share their ideas of what should be included in the museum (an inkwell fountain? yes, please), as well as the ability to become involved and donate toward the museum.
Progress has been slow – this is still America, after all – but it is a project that is worth keeping abreast of, especially if you are a writer or reader on any level. I highly suggest/threaten that you keep this gem in the back of your mind – or do me one better and spread the word.
As Jim Leach, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, put it:
There is a void in the American museum world. We collect in central points the artifacts of civilization and honor politicians and soldiers, athletes and artists, inventors and entrepreneurs, but we neglect our writers. In a country established as an idea explicated in written documents and embellished by generations of poets, novelists, and critics, the case for commemorating the written word is self-evident. After all, what is written describes a people and what is celebrated defines their values.
One day it may be you who is inducted into the American Writers Museum; but, until that time, we should do everything within our power to ensure that those who have left their indelible ink on the pages of our hearts have a place to call home.
Our writers deserve it.