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Chicago History Museum Opens First Crowd-Sourced Exhibition

By Jessica Mlinaric in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 15, 2015 8:55PM

Credit: Chicago History Museum

Authors have played a prominent role in Chicago's storied history and they are the subject of a new exhibition at the Chicago History Museum. The first entirely crowd-sourced museum exhibit, Chicago Authored, opens this Saturday, October 17.

The Chicago History Museum announced the crowdsourcing competition in October 2013, becoming the first museum in the country to seek public input in creating an exhibit. Thousands of topics were submitted and the top 16 were voted on by the public in a Chicago History Bowl tournament. The final four themes were Prohibition, Chicago Authors, Neighborhoods and Architecture.

"We asked Chicago to give us an assignment, and we are thrilled to present Chicago Authored, an exhibition that epitomizes the Museum's mission to share Chicago's stories," said Chicago History Museum President Gary T. Johnson.

Credit: Chicago History Museum
Chicago Authored explores a collection of past and present authors who define the city’s character and help unpack its complexity, beauty, and rich history. Featured authors include legendary Chicagoans like Nelson Algren and Gwendolyn Brooks. The exhibit places an emphasis on contemporary writers including Malcolm London and Audrey Petty.

The exhibit includes two new full-length multimedia experiences. Chicago Authored explores local writing through four motifs: the view from a window, through an open door, into a keyhole, and reflected in a mirror. For example, the view through a keyhole takes readers inside scenes of Chicago they were never supposed to see, such as the Democratic political machine or the Union Stockyards. The view through a window highlights authors who have addressed the city as a whole, while the open door theme covers those who show readers unfamiliar neighborhoods and communities.

Authors Crossroads Authored enhances the museum’s permanent exhibition Chicago: Crossroads of America with audio samples highlighting the city’s literary legacy. Canonical writers are paired with the specific points in Chicago's history that shaped their work.

In the spirit of encouraging public participation in the exhibition, the Chicago History Museum will also unveil a new café-style space. Visitors are invited to interact with the gallery by writing postcards to express their Chicago experience, crafting magnetic poetry, and browsing the bookshelves. While Chicago's authors offer inspiration and insight, the Chicago History Museum invites visitors to continue crafting the city's story.

Chicago History Museum is located at 1601 North Clark St. The exhibit opens Saturday, Oct. 17. Admission: $14 for adults with audio tour, $12 for seniors/students with audio tour, and free for children 12 years and younger. For tickets and information call 312-642-4600 or visit the Chicago History Museum website.