If you haven't yet paid a visit to the brand new American Writers Museum (AWM), now's the time to do it. Two special exhibits take beloved Midwestern writers as their focus: "Captured Stories: American Writers through the Lens of Art Shay" and "Laura Ingalls Wilder: From Prairie to Page." As the first and only museum of its kind in the nation, this word-filled collection celebrates diverse American writers, while also exploring their influence on our cultural identity. These two exhibits, in particular, promise to reveal new insights into the authors behind so many American classics. 

Portrait of Gwendolyn Brooks by Art Shay

Captured Stories: American Writers Through the Lens of Art Shay

Through March 31, 2018

Captured Stories boasts a striking collection of American writer portraits by award-winning photojournalist Art Shay. After serving in WWII as a navigator, Shay became a Chicago-based freelance photographer for LifeTime and Sports Illustrated. His iconic portraits captured the literary world, featuring images of many Chicago literary greats, including Gwendolyn Brooks and Ernest Hemingway.

Many of the images on display are a mirror of life in 1950s Chicago. Shay often explored the city, photographing people, sights and sounds, with author and close friend Nelson Algren in tow. On October 29, 2017, Shay joined Gordon Parks, Henri Cartier-Bresson and William Klein as winner of the Lucie Foundation's Lifetime Achievement Award.

Laura Ingalls Wilder: From Prairie to Page

Through February 1, 2018

Beloved author Laura Ingalls Wilder is highlighted in this dedicated exhibit revealing the woman behind the famous pioneer series. The exhibit  also shines a spotlight on the author's informal education and the old-fashioned values that permeate the Little House series.

Among the items on display is the longhand manuscript of The Long Winter from the Detroit Public Library, with handwritten notes by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and merchandise and memorabilia contributed by AWM Affiliates, Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum, Walnut Grove in Walnut Grove, Minnesota, and Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum in Mansfield, Missouri.

The American Writers Museum is located at 180 N. Michigan Avenue. Tickets are $12 for adults, $8 for children. Hours: Tues–Sunday, 10 am–4 pm (Thur, 10 am–8 pm). Admission includes special exhibits and programs; try to plan your visit to coincide with one of the many special events related to these two special exhibits.