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Help preserve Kurt Vonnegut’s legacy by securing a new, permanent home for the Kurt Vonnegut Museum * Library in Indianapolis, IN.
Help preserve Kurt Vonnegut’s legacy by securing a new, permanent home for the Kurt Vonnegut Museum * Library in Indianapolis, IN.
1,498 backers pledged $117,291 to help bring this project to life.

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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

A replica of Kurt Vonnegut's study at the Kurt Vonnegut Museum * Library
A replica of Kurt Vonnegut's study at the Kurt Vonnegut Museum * Library

 

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.

646 Massachusetts Avenue--Our New, Permanent Home
646 Massachusetts Avenue--Our New, Permanent Home

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.

Wood & Wire performs as part of our Vonnegut Sessions.
Wood & Wire performs as part of our Vonnegut Sessions.

 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.

Kurt Vonnegut at home in Barnstable, Mass. (Photo Courtesy Vonnegut Family Archives).
Kurt Vonnegut at home in Barnstable, Mass. (Photo Courtesy Vonnegut Family Archives).

 

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.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    THANKS TO YOU

    A warm thank you and your name and a link to your website or social media page will be posted on the Kurt Vonnegut Museum * Library’s website. Plus, you’ll receive early notifications about concerts, readings, and super cool Vonnegut themed SWAG, as well as, behind-the-scene updates about the progress of our move to the new building.

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    BADGE OF HONOR

    Be the first to receive digital stickers to show your love of Kurt and support of the Vonnegut Library. Plus you’ll receive the above.

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    YOU AT 646

    As part of the grand opening of the new Kurt Vonnegut Museum * Library, we will ask a local artist to produce an original art piece that incorporates all of the names of our $25 and above backers. Plan a trip to Indy to come spy your name and get a high-five from the Vonnegut team. Plus all of the above.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    FRIEND OF THE LIBRARY

    Receive a year long "Friend of the Library" membership, which includes a Vonnegut Library bumper sticker, and receive an exclusive video tour of our current collection. Plus, all of the above.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    KURT’S HOMECOMING

    We’re working to preserve Kurt’s legacy in Indianapolis, and you’ll receive a digital copy of a letter celebrating Kurt’s first homecoming: when he returned after WWII. This letter, written by his sister Alice, describes her joy at finding Kurt alive, as he was previously missing in action. Generously donated by Kurt’s nephew, Scott Vonnegut, the Kurt Vonnegut Museum * Library, cannot currently display the letter due to lack of space. You'll also get an exclusive * coffee mug, featuring Kurt’s beloved and edgy asterisk design, and all of the above.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    SO IT GOES SELFIE

    Send us your best Vonnegut-inspired selfie and the reason you love Vonnegut, and we’ll add it to a new, digital display in our new home—646 Massachusetts Avenue—for our tens of thousands of yearly visitors to see. Plus, receive all of the above.

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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    "A WRITER'S ROOTS"

    Thanks to our friends at WFYI, we have a limited number of director’s cut edition DVDs of their wonderful documentary, “A Writer’s Roots: Kurt Vonnegut’s Indianapolis.” See how Vonnegut’s life and writing were shaped by his upbringing in the Crossroads of America in this fabulous film by producer Kevin Finch and our local Indianapolis PBS team. Plus receive rewards from the $5-$100 tiers.

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    Pledge $400 or more About $400

    VONNEGUT ENCYCLOPEDIA

    Receive Marc Leeds' The Vonnegut Encyclopedia: Revised and Updated Edition and learn about all works Vonnegut. Plus, receive rewards from the $5-$100 tiers.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    KARASS CLAD

    Receive an exclusive, Vonnegut-inspired snaptech leather accessory from local House of 5th artist Truen Jaimes, plus all of the above. The snaptech will feature Vonnegut's famous asterisk design.

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    Pledge $750 or more About $750

    VONNEGUT ON YOUR SHELF

    Thanks to Penguin Random House, backers at the $750 level will receive a paperback collection of Vonnegut's work (Hocus Pocus and Timequake not included). Plus receive the rewards from the $5 to $100 tiers.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    MAKE SOULS GROW

    Vonnegut said, “To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.” We'll send you an original print from an artist who loves Vonnegut. Contributors include Mab Graves and Joe Petro. Plus receive the rewards from the $5-$100 tiers.

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    EXISTENCE OF GOD

    Vonnegut said, “Music is, to me, proof of the existence of God. It is so extraordinarily full of magic, and in tough times of my life I can listen to music and it makes such a difference.” We’ve asked a composer friend to create an original piece inspired by Vonnegut. You’ll receive the first recordings of this piece and an autographed copy of the score. Plus receive the rewards from the $5-$100 tiers.

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    646 IN THE MAKING

    Receive a signed copy of the signed hand sketched schematic plans for 646 Massachusetts Avenue from Scott Vonnegut, Kurt’s nephew, and two tickets to the grand opening gala of the new Kurt Vonnegut Museum * Library in the spring of 2017. Plus receive the rewards from the $5-$100 tiers. Travel to Indianapolis and accommodations not included.

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Funding period

- (37 days)