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Chicago Authored to Showcase City’s Literary History


The Chicago History Museum launches first entirely crowd-sourced exhibition.

Carl Sandburg called it the “City of Big Shoulders.” Carolyn Martineau dubbed it “the place that invented the wind-chill.” Consider what Chicago means to you in Chicago Authored, the first-ever entirely crowd-sourced museum exhibition, which opens at the Chicago History Museum on Saturday, October 17, 2015.

“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 .

The Museum boldly asked Chicagoans to select an exhibition topic, entirely free of suggestion, in a tournament-style competition dubbed the Chicago History Bowl. The submissions that flooded in included Chicago’s neighborhoods, Prohibition, architecture, the Great Chicago Fire, and notable women of Chicago. Chicagoans voted for weeks; their selection: Chicago authors.

“The bedrock, inarguable reality is that everyone only has a piece. No one experiences Chicago in its entirety. Because you can’t; it’s impossible, there’s too much of it.” – Neil Steinberg, You Were Never in Chicago

Starting this fall, explore a collection of diverse and inspiring works by writers, past and present. These authors define the character of Chicago and help us understand the complexity, beauty, and rich history of our great city. Explore classic works from Nelson Algren and Gwendolyn Brooks, famous for their Chicago-focused material, and encounter more recent writers, such as Malcolm London and Audrey Petty, whose works demonstrate that Chicago is still a place that has secrets to reveal and new stories to share.

On both sides of the pond stood the great pavilions of the Columbian Exposition, the White City. It was Greece and Rome again, and every column and curlicue lit by an incandescent bulb.” – Richard Peck, Fair Weather

The new café-style space is designed for thoughtful listening, reading, and conversation. Interactive experiences—including a postcard-writing activity and magnetic poetry wall—encourage visitors to express their own understanding of the city. Visitors are invited to browse the gallery’s bookshelves and make recommendations to others. These elements were designed in the spirit of the Chicago History Bowl’s original mission to encourage the public to participate in the exhibition.

Enhance your experience with two new full-length multimedia experiences, Chicago Authored and Crossroads Authored. The Chicago Authored audio tour prompts visitors to discover the works of Chicago writers through four perspectives: a view from a window, through an open door, into a keyhole, and reflected in a mirror. Continue your exploration of the city’s literary past in the Museum’s permanent exhibition Chicago: Crossroads of America. Experience the exhibition like never before and listen to works by a dozen beloved authors, including Theodore Dreiser, Lorraine Hansberry, and Studs Terkel. Audio tours are included with Museum admission.

The Chicago History Museum gratefully acknowledges the support of Lead Corporate Sponsor of Chicago Authored BMO Harris Bank with additional support from the Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events IncentOvate grant and the Field Foundation of Illinois. ABOUT


The Chicago History Museum is situated on ancestral homelands of the Potawatomi people, who cared for the land until forced out by non-Native settlers. Established in 1856, the Museum is now at 1601 N. Clark Street in Lincoln Park, its third location. As a major museum and research center for Chicago and U.S. history, the Chicago History Museum strives to be a destination for learning, inspiration and civic engagement. Through dynamic exhibitions, tours, publications, special events and programming, the Museum connects people to Chicago’s history and to each other. To share Chicago stories, the Museum collects and preserves millions of artifacts, documents, images and other items that are relevant to the city’s history. The Museum gratefully acknowledges the support of the Chicago Park District on behalf of the people of Chicago. 

Publication Media Kit
Chicago History Museum Sharing Chicago Stories