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We champion the legacy of Kurt Vonnegut and the principles of
free expression and common decency.
Vonnegut Library Lands Kurt Vonnegut’s “Forever Home”
Lilly Endowment Approves $500,000 Gift to
Support Building Purchase
INDIANAPOLIS, July 3, 2019 – The Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library (KVML) in the author’s hometown of Indianapolis is purchasing a building that will become its new home at 543 Indiana Ave., thanks in part to $500,000 Lilly Endowment grant announced today.
KVML Founder and CEO Julia Whitehead said, “For ten years, we’ve had our eye on this building. It is perfect for us in every way. With partner Bluebeard setting up a second restaurant location on the first floor of the building, we will provide a top-notch visitor experience for our audience.”
The new building will feature exhibitions and programs that highlight the legacy of Vonnegut’s work and showcase KVML’s collection of artifacts and memorabilia. Exhibits will explore the impact of the author’s influential novel, Slaughterhouse-Five and his efforts to preserve freedom of expression and limit censorship. Enhancements to the building, which is close to the historic Madam Walker Legacy Center, will include “Vonnegut and Jazz,” an exhibition produced in conjunction with the Madam Walker Legacy Center and Indiana Jazz Foundation.
Additional updates will be made to exhibitions about Vonnegut’s life and work that will feature items from the organization’s large collection, which includes Vonnegut’s typewriter and Purple Heart.
KVML received cash gifts and pledges from 1,400 people and organizations this spring through its campaign for Vonnegut’s “Forever Home.” Whitehead said, “The $500,000 grant from Lilly Endowment is the largest grant we’ve ever received, and it gives our board the confidence to purchase the building and move forward with our exciting plans.”
KVML’s lease at its previous location, 334 N. Senate Ave., expired in February. The organization’s museum is currently closed, but KVML operates a pop-up gift shop at Circle Centre Mall in downtown Indianapolis. KVML expects to reopen its doors at the Indiana Avenue location by the end of September.
In addition to the Lilly Endowment grant, KVML has received $1 million in cash and pledges toward the purchase of the building. The organization was given a loan by National Bank of Indianapolis to make the purchase possible in advance of receiving the pledge funds.
“This community – along with donors from around the nation – came together to support a permanent home to celebrate Vonnegut and advocate for principles of free expression and common decency. We have so much work to do. It’s important for all who pledged to us to make good on your pledges now, if possible, so that we can start our build-out and open our building,” Whitehead added. “We have an additional $1.5 million to raise this year to be able to unveil our exhibits to the public. In addition to that, we have our programs supporting veterans, students, teachers, those suffering from mental health challenges, and general readers who will celebrate with us on our grand opening day and all the days to follow. ”
About the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library
The KVML is a public-benefit, nonprofit organization championing the legacy of Kurt Vonnegut and principles of free expression and common decency.
The Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library thinks Vonnegut’s imagination is worth sharing with a new generation. That’s why, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the release of Kurt Vonnegut’s masterpiece, we are undertaking one of the boldest programmatic efforts in our history.
KURT VONNEGUT MUSEUM AND LIBRARY
FREEDOM TO READ WEEK
Championing the First Amendment
At our new home at 543 Indiana Avenue
- Sneak Peek at our new building
- Food compliments of Bluebeard
- Meet our Freedom to Read “prisoner” Tipton High School teacher and football coach Brett Stoker
- Beer and wine for purchase
- Sun: Noon – 5 PM
- Mon-Fri: Unless otherwise noted, doors open @ 5 PM
- $20 Admission/Day or $100 for the Week on Eventbrite.com
- $15/Day or $75/Week Student Admission on Eventbrite.com (with Student ID at door)
- $25/Day at the door
Sunday, September 22
NOON – 5 PM
Kurt’s ‘Forever Home’ Kickoff Party
- Come tailgate and watch the Colts’ first home game.
- Hear local middle school boy band Newer Edition.
- Meet our Freedom to Read “prisoner” Brett Stoker (he’ll be here all week).
Monday, September 23
CENSORED Double Feature
- Dig into the history of censorship and book banning through the lens of Ray Bradbury with Jonathan R. Eller, IUPUI Chancellor’s Professor of English; Director, Center for Ray Bradbury Studies.
- Night 1 of our First Amendment Film Festival: Good Night and Good Luck
Tuesday, September 24
Co-Ed Night at the Museum
- Learn how the Freedom to Read is threatened by publishing trends, cuts to libraries, and more with Lucinda Nord, Executive Director, Indiana Library Federation.
- Night 2 of our First Amendment Film Festival: Footloose (1984 original)
Wednesday, September 25
How to Run for President — From Jail
- Join us for an intimate look at Vonnegut hero and free speech warrior Eugene V. Debs. Debra Des Vignes, founder of the Indiana Prison Writers Workshop, introduces the keepers of Debs’ legacy at the Eugene V. Debs Museum and Foundation for an informative dialogue on the struggle for free speech. Then former Indiana poet laureate Shari Wagner debuts a new poem inspired by Debs.
- Night 3 of our First Amendment Film Festival: Malcolm X (1992)
Thursday, September 26
Vonnegut Book Club
- Bring your copy of Slaughterhouse-Five for a discussion of Vonnegut’s most famous banned book led by KVML historian Bill Briscoe. (NOTE: This event is free to the public.)
Jazz Party on Indiana Avenue
- Listen to local legend Dan Wakefield, keyboardist Carl Hines, and author Aleta Hodge (Indiana Avenue: Life and Musical Journey From 1915 to 2015) tell tales of the legendary Indiana Avenue jazz scene.
Performance by The Groove 4tet
- Featuring Indy-based all-stars Clint Breeze (drums), Jared Thompson (saxophone), Nick Tucker (bass), and Christopher Pitts (keys) playing jazz standards and originals.
Friday, September 27
First Amendment Trivial Pursuit
- Test your Freedom of Speech cred at Trivia Night with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).
Performance by The Emerson Connection
- Check out eight local high school students — who’ll be on the Jazz ConNext stage at Indy Jazz Fest this year — playing swinging modern jazz.
“Free Speech 50” Sponsors (It’s not too late to join this list!)
The Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library is opening at a new location later this fall at 543 Indiana Avenue.
One of our permanent exhibitions focuses on Freedom of Expression.
You are invited to become one of 50 donors (individuals or corporations) to contribute $500 to support the creation of phase one of this important educational exhibition and free speech programming.
Donor names will be displayed at the exhibit and highlighted in future newsletters and select event programs. Thanks to those who have already donated:
- Anonymous Gift in Honor of Brett Stoker
- The Charles Bruce Foundation
- David A. and Mary F. Cory
- Nicholas Croce
- DePauw University Libraries
- Mary Lee Gambone
- Matthew and Anne Gillingham
- Gregory & Appel Insurance
- Sarah Harrell and Kristin Cutler
- Paige Christine Harrington
- James Lucas Jones and Jennie Jones
- David and Mimi Lepreau Jose
- Victor R. Jose
- Marshal A. Miller
- Frank Noge
- John and Lisa Nolan
- Mark Pfaff in honor of Daniel W. Pfaff
- Mark Remington
- Bonnie Schall
- Kimann and Mike Schultz
- Sherwin Williams (Downtown Location)
- Kevin Toner and Susan Tone
Join us! Call KVML CEO Julia Whitehead (317) 652-1954
to learn how you can help make history with your contribution.
Click here for more info and a donation form.
Thank you for your support!
At the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library, we spend a lot of time celebrating—celebrating Vonnegut himself, writers, artists, veterans, books, continued learning, and common decency.
The Pop-up Gift Shop is closed!
The Museum * Library pop-up gift shop previously located on the second floor of the Circle Centre Mall, 9 W. Maryland St, Indianapolis is now officially closed as we move to Kurt’s forever home at 543 Indiana Ave. Despite this closing, you are encouraged to continue to make your Vonnegut related merchandise purchases at our online gift shop.
Kurt Vonnegut Museum & Library
543 Indiana Ave.
Indianapolis, IN 46202
About Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut is a renowned author who took an unflinching look at the world, tempered with a satirical eye and sardonic sense of humor. In a career spanning over 50 years, Vonnegut published 14 novels, three short story collections, five plays, and five works of non-fiction. He is most famous for his darkly satirical, best-selling novel Slaughterhouse-Five, which is 50 years old in 2019.