Tools of the Trade exhibit explores writing practice through the ages at the American Writers Musuem

Orson Welles, Maya Angelou, John Lennon, Hugh Hefner Artifacts On Display For First Time In Chicago

History and literature intersect in a unique exhibit at American Writers Museum on June 22, 2019. Tools of the Trade features typewriters used by iconic American authors, poets, screenwriters, playwrights, and journalists. Included in this one-of-a-kind exhibit are typewriters used by Orson Welles (The Stranger, Citizen Kane), Hugh Hefner (Playboy, Esquire), Gwendolyn Brooks (A House in Bronzeville) John Lennon (The Beatles), Ernest Hemingway (A Farewell To Arms, The Old Man And The Sea), Sandra Cisneros (The House on Mango Street), Tennessee Williams (A Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie), Truman Capote (In Cold Blood), Maya Angelou (I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings) and Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451).

“The iconic works these typewriters gave birth to transcend generations,” says Carey Cranston, American Writers Museum president. “Never before has such a diverse collection of writing tools been assembled in one place for people to view up close. Fans of literature, music, journalism, and history are in for a moving experience!”

The collection, on loan from collector and philanthropist Steve Soboroff (minus the typewriters of Brooks and Cisneros) are functional and in pristine condition. They are complemented by rare photos of their original owners and visual spotlights on their works. Also included in Tools of the Trade are Frederick Douglass’ inkwell and pens, Helen Keller’s braille writer, and other artifacts owned and used by the featured writers.

To further enhance the experience, visitors can create their own works on exact replicas of some of the typewriters on display and include it in the Story of the Day exhibit.

And if that isn’t enough, visitors can enter to win a typewriter of their own through the Typewriter Photo Contest. To enter, visitors need to share a photo of themselves at a typewriter — either one at the museum or a personal one — on social media by June 30 and use hashtag #ClickClackAWM. Someone could take home a 1949 Smith Corona Sterling, a beautiful, fully-operational machine that has been meticulously restored and maintained. And don’t worry, it still has that lovely old typewriter smell.

On June 27, the museum will host a cocktail event to celebrate the exhibit’s opening and the writers honored in it. Guests are invited to bring a book to swap with other guests, converse about the authors in the exhibit and toast a drink to their successes.

Tools of the Trade also coincides with Worldwide Typewriter Day on June 23, which celebrates American inventor Christopher Latham Sholes, who created the Sholes and Glidden typewriter — the first to be commercially marketed in 1868.

Tools of the Trade is sponsored by the Hugh M. Hefner Foundation and runs June 22, 2019 through June 30, 2020 in the Roberta Rubin Writer’s Room at American Writers Museum.

See more photos here.

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