Art & Museums

Preview: Write Your Own Story at the American Writers Museum’s Tools of the Trade Exhibit

Typewriters, inkwells, Braille writers and more of the tools that writers use will be featured in the Tools of the Trade exhibit opening at the American Writers Museum on Saturday, June 22. Exact replicas of some of the typewriters will be displayed in the museum’s Story of the Day exhibit for visitors to use.

The exhibit will feature the actual writing implements used by renowned writers such as Ernest Hemingway, Gwendolyn Brooks and Ray Bradbury. More than a dozen typewriters will be on loan from the collection of Steve Soboroff, in a broad range of styles, from Hemingway’s 1926 portable Underwood to Maya Angelou’s electric Adler Meteor from 1980.

Image courtesy American Writers Museum.

This one-of-a-kind exhibit will also feature typewriters used by Orson Welles, HughHefner, John Lennon, Sandra Cisneros, Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote. Also on display will be rare photos of the original owners, artifacts and visual spotlights on their works. Frederick Douglass’ inkwell and pens and Helen Keller’s Braille writer also will be on display.

“The iconic works these typewriters gave birth to transcend generations,” says Carey Cranston, 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 museum is offering a typewriter photo contest in which you can win a fully operational 1949 Smith Corona Sterling model typewriter. To enter, share a photo of yourself at a typewriter—either one at the museum or a personal machine—on social media by June 30 and use hashtag #ClickClackAWM. Someone could take home the Smith Corona Sterling, a fully operational machine that has been meticulously restored and maintained. Be sure to tag AWM in your post and follow the museum online. The winner will be announced online. You can find the AWM on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Tools of the Trade 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 will run from Saturday, June 22, through Sunday, June 30, in the Roberta Rubin Writers Room at the American Writers Museum, 180 N. Michigan Ave., second floor. The museum is open 10am to 5pm daily. Admission is $12 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, and free for members and children ages 12 and under. Visit or call 312-374-8790 for more information. Evening programs will explore the craft of writing and the authors represented in the exhibit. Tools of the Trade is sponsored by the Hugh M. Hefner Foundation.

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