Center for Ray Bradbury Studies

Kurt Vonnegut and Ray Bradbury have a lot in common. They have similar fan bases, since their works share some of the same antiauthoritarian ideals, as well as sci-fi elements and both a profound horror of and deep faith in mankind. They were around the same age; Bradbury was only two years older. Neither of them finished college; in fact, Bradbury never even started. Both men started their lives as Midwesterners and ended them in coastal cities (Kurt died in New York City; Bradbury died in Los Angeles). And they both have museums dedicated to them in the Indianapolis area, less than a mile from each other.

Wait, what? There’s another author museum in Indianapolis? Why, yes. Although Ray Bradbury did not live in Indianapolis, Dr. Jonathan Eller, the world’s foremost Ray Bradbury scholar, teaches at Indiana University, and he also does some work at IUPUI (Indiana University Purdue University of Indianapolis). He knew Bradbury personally and received many of the author’s archives and belongings after his death in 2012. Those archives became the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies, located at 425 University Boulevard (the first floor of Cavanaugh Hall).

Bradbury and Vonnegut knew each other a little during their lives. They even corresponded. Vonnegut wrote Bradbury a letter in 1959, saying he was planning to move to the West Coast and be closer to Disneyland. Bradbury wrote back “an extremely friendly letter.” Here’s Vonnegut describing Bradbury’s response:

I got an extremely friendly letter back from Ray Bradbury. I called him Mr. Bradbury and he called me Kurt. I told him I was thinking of moving to California, and he said sure, come ahead. He said he would introduce me to some people, and he said it was warm all the time out there. Can you imagine someplace where it’s warm all the time?

KVML and the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies have done some work together in honor of their subjects’ lives and similar works. Dr. Jonathan Eller has spoken at our annual Teaching Vonnegut conference, and we stock some pamphlets about the Center at KVML. Ask us to see one if you’re interested.

Here are some of the cool things you can see at the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies:

A view of Ray Bradbury’s desk. Everything in the drawers and on the desk was originally his, including one of his several typewriters.

Bradbury’s space memorabilia and some of his books. He was fascinated by outer space, and many of his most famous works, including The Martian Chronicles, were born out of that interest.

A few of Bradbury’s favorite books. He and Vonnegut had many favorites in common, including Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck. After Steinbeck’s death, Bradbury learned that Steinbeck had read Bradbury novels to his children at night.

An original painting by Bradbury, based on his story and Emmy-winning TV special The Halloween Tree.

The painting situated next to a photo of Bradbury painting it!

There is one piece that is in both the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies and KVML.  It’s a photo that was taken around 1990, when the same television network was making two series, one based on Vonnegut’s Welcome to the Monkey House and the other on Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles.  Vonnegut and Bradbury happened to be visiting the set at the same time, so the network asked them to take a picture together. We’ll let you look for it when you’re in both museums (because you are planning to visit them both, right?)

If you do decide to pay a visit to the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies, we suggest emailing Jonathan Eller (his email can be found on the IUPUI website) and telling him when you would like to come. The Center is open weekdays, with the exception of Wednesday, from 9 to 4. He or one of the other kind volunteers at the museum can show you around and chat you up about Bradbury. And if you decide to go visit because of this blog post, make sure and tell the good people at the Center who sent you.

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