About this project
Kurt Vonnegut. Indianapolis. The writer cherished his place of birth and acknowledged it as a major influence on his writing, his art, and his perspective. “All my jokes are Indianapolis. All my attitudes are Indianapolis. My adenoids are Indianapolis. If I ever severed myself from Indianapolis, I would be out of business. What people like about me is Indianapolis.” Seven years ago, a group of Indianapolis citizens embarked on a journey to celebrate Kurt Vonnegut’s legacy and his deeply embedded connection to their city. We started a museum and unique cultural resource center dedicated to championing the life of Hoosier author Kurt Vonnegut and the principles of free expression, common decency, and peaceful coexistence he advocated. Their little storefront space became a bona fide global destination. Since its founding, over 200,000 people have visited the Kurt Vonnegut Museum * Library or attended its arts and humanities programming.
At KVML, visitors can learn about Kurt Vonnegut's life and work and see his personal items, including his Purple Heart (awarded for what he called a “ludicrously negligible wound” and later, “frostbite”), his pack of infamous Pall Malls as found near his bookcase by his children, military patches from his service in World War II, rejection letters, and an unopened letter the author’s father wrote to his son while Kurt was a WWII POW, imprisoned in the underground meat locker that would later inspire his masterpiece, Slaughterhouse-Five.
Unfortunately, a quarter of our collection is in storage due to lack of space. We have outgrown our museum. And our building is for sale. The Kurt Vonnegut Museum * Library (KVML) needs $750,000 to move to its ideal new, permanent home—646 Massachusetts (Mass) Avenue. You can help us reach this goal by backing our project, which will raise a portion of the funds needed to purchase 646 Mass Ave and renovate the space to be exhibition-ready and accessible to all. With your help, KVML will be ready to open the doors of its brand new space in the spring of 2017, ten years after Kurt Vonnegut’s death.
Each year, KVML gives free tours about Kurt Vonnegut’s life to approximately 15,000 visitors. We also offer programming that addresses the issues Kurt cared the most about: raising awareness about free expression, caring for and community-building with veterans, and offering a space where today’s writers, artists, musicians, and thinkers can share their work with the public. In 2015, KVML hosted over 70 artists or speakers.
A move to 646 Mass Ave would mean:
- Increased museum space with new exhibitions focused on Vonnegut’s beloved novel Slaughterhouse-Five and censorship, an issue very important to Vonnegut
- More gathering and learning space for students of all ages who come to learn about Kurt Vonnegut and reflect on the importance of free expression, common decency, and the peaceful coexistence he advocated
- Expanded programs, including programs for K-12 students and a new partnership with local professional soccer team Indy Eleven to launch a suicide prevention and anti-bullying writing program for middle school students, programs on the power of personal narrative.
You can read more about KVML’s vision for its new space in our Case for Support.
Why Kurt Vonnegut?
Few writers are as beloved as Kurt Vonnegut and few speak to the mess of being human with such candor, wit, truth, and encouragement. World War II veteran, pacifist, satirist, humanist, environmentalist, visual artist, internationally acclaimed writer and Hoosier, Kurt Vonnegut is one of the most influential American writers and thinkers of the 20th century. Vonnegut’s work shakes traditional values, while offering offbeat and time-warping, alternative views of life. His bold commentaries on religion, war, the so-called establishment and mortality are woven into stories that challenge readers to examine their own values, inspiring philosophical discussions with family, friends, and Vonnegut fans everywhere. We believe it is important to have a space dedicated to upholding his legacy and spurring these discussions.
About the Kurt Vonnegut Museum * Library:
KVML is a 501c(3) nonprofit in Indianapolis, Indiana, dedicated to championing the legacy of Hoosier author Kurt Vonnegut and the principles of free expression, common decency, and peaceful coexistence he advocated. Since its founding in 2009, over 200,000 people have visited the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library or attended its arts programming. In 2015, Lonely Planet listed the Vonnegut Library first in a list of reasons to visit Indianapolis.
In addition to our museum, we also maintain a rigorous calendar of arts and humanities programming designed to raise awareness about issues dear to Vonnegut: censorship, veterans’ affairs, and conflict resolution. These programs include:
• Hosting arts and humanities events for the veterans’ community, including a bimonthly writing workshop for female veterans and a yearly, free arts resource fair.
• Hosting arts and humanities events for the general public, including readings by authors, lectures by historians, gallery shows by visual artists, and music performances.
. • Conducting programming designed to raise awareness about censorship, including celebrating Banned Books Week every year with a series of programs that highlight the importance of free expression.
Your tax-deductible contribution helps us accomplish our mission and supports us as we work to secure our new, permanent location.
So it goes. So we grow.
Risks and challenges
Acquiring property and renovating space inherently involves risks and challenges. KVML has enlisted some of the best and brightest minds to help us secure our new space and shape it into the best possible museum in which to honor Kurt. Those helping us include Kurt’s nephew, Scott Vonnegut, who is graciously donating his architectural services. However, issues and challenges that we do not currently anticipate could arise. The largest of these would be 646 Massachusetts Avenue no longer being available for us to purchase.
As our current building is for sale, KVML must move even if our ideal location falls through for an unforeseen reason. The funds raised through the generosity of backers like you will go towards efforts to make our permanent home a reality, and we will keep all backers informed about changes in location or timing.
No matter its physical location, KVML will continue to honor Kurt Vonnegut and serve his fans globally and the Indianapolis arts community locally. In its seven years in existence, KVML has responded to needs and opportunities as they arose, giving copies of Slaughterhouse-Five to students in Republic, MO when their school banned it; creating a teacher training course about Vonnegut when teachers asked for it; and offering free tours in English and Spanish to anyone who wanted to learn about Vonnegut.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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