What is the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library?
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. 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. Led by Julia Whitehead, a former Marine, and governed by a group of visionaries willing to take on the tough work of launching a startup nonprofit, the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library (KVML) was created and housed in a small, downtown storefront gallery. A phenomenon occurred. People from around the world arrived, calling their visits ‘Pilgrimages.’ Veterans came to pay tribute. Parents brought their children. Renowned journalists contributed both time and support. And community leaders began to take notice. That little storefront space has quickly grown into a renowned cultural resource and bona fide global destination.
HONORING A NATIONAL TREASURE & ENHANCING VONNEGUT'S LEGACY
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 amongst family, friends, and Vonnegut fans everywhere. Kurt Vonnegut’s literary legacy provides the building blocks upon which the KVML stands: We can make a difference by our responses to the big questions and issues of our time, and we do it with civility. The KVML provides a forum for dialogue and reflection, asking its visitors to contemplate the realities of war, environmental problems, common decency, and education for all, and the need for the arts and humanities in our everyday lives...all delivered via the gifts of Kurt’s wry, Midwestern humor and unfiltered presentation. A cultural and educational resource, museum, art gallery and gathering space for readers, writers, artists, and students, KVML honors Vonnegut and his dual legacies of creativity and civil discourse. Since its founding in 2009, over 250,000 people have visited or participated in KVML's arts and humanities programs.
Our 2018 Programming
“Lonesome No More!” was a slogan Kurt Vonnegut used in his book Slapstick.
We understand that you can’t get rid of loneliness just by getting rid of 'aloneness.' Kurt Vonnegut knew this; as a World War II veteran who was captured by the Nazis and survived the Allied firebombing of Dresden, Germany, he suffered from PTSD and depression. He carried more than his share of loneliness throughout his lifetime, but that intense loneliness isn’t unique to people with PTSD or depression. It also affects people with other mental health concerns: anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or even just sadness when being bullied or feeling like people just don’t understand.
All humans suffer from loneliness at one time or another. Vonnegut’s mother-in-law fought her own battles with mental health, twice being institutionalized. And his mother committed suicide on Mother's Day weekend right before Kurt was shipped off to the Battle of the Bulge in WWII.
Like Kurt, we all feel alone and we all are fighting it. However, knowing there is a community out there to help you, to make you feel wanted and alive, to ease your pain is something the Hoosier author believed in and wrote about throughout his life.
The Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library plans to focus on mental health for all of its 2018 events and programming. We can’t stop mental suffering, but the people who suffer don’t have to fight it by themselves.
On average, KVML hosts more than 70 arts and humanities events each year - bringing writers, artists, musicians, and scholars to Indianapolis for public events. We will be presenting upwards of eight major programs for the 2018 calendar year. Many of these programs will be made available around the world via podcasts and/or videos on the Vonnegut Library website.
As we've done in the past, we will continue bringing programming to schools, libraries, universities, senior centers, and other venues speaking on Kurt Vonnegut's life, work, and thoughts on how we all can be lonesome no more!
Your donations will make up a large portion of the funds for these 2018 events:
· The Personal Narrative Project helps local students tell their own stories through writing. These are the writers, thinkers, and leaders of tomorrow, and we’re honored to help them learn and grow as people and cope with the difficulties that life has to offer. In 2017, KVML introduced Slaughterhouse-Five to over 250 eighth-grade Students at Harshman Middle School in Indianapolis, and we are expanding writing programs for students at Shortridge High School in 2018.
· Night of Vonnegut is our annual gala featuring a renowned speaker. The 2018 Night of Vonnegut speaker is Douglas Brinkley, author, presidential historian, and literary executor of the Hunter S. Thompson Estate. Thompson, a friend of Kurt Vonnegut's and the dynamic inventor of the nose-thumbing, first-person “gonzo journalism” style, struggled with mental illness and drug abuse throughout his life.
· In 2018, our annual Teaching Vonnegut program is traveling to Chicago for the first time ever! We know that getting your students to engage with reading can be a challenge. But when we introduce them to Vonnegut, something magical happens. Students are laughing; they’re discussing; they’re thinking deeply and grappling with every complex facet of what it means to be human. Teaching Vonnegut is an annual three-day workshop for teachers of junior high, high school, and college who come together to learn innovative ways to bring Kurt Vonnegut in to their classrooms. The free workshop allows teachers the opportunity to meet with peers, Vonnegut scholars, and the staff of KVML while receiving their continuing education credits. Next summer, attendees will spend time at the University of Chicago, the American Writers Museum, and the National Veterans Art Museum.
· The end of September is Banned Books Week. Every year, KVML hosts Banned Books Week, which raises awareness about censorship, freedom of speech, and other topics. Participants hear about books currently being challenged, individuals who are silenced by censorship, and about the ongoing fight for literary freedom. We also house an artist in our museum to protest the banning of books around the world. Lonesome No More-themed events will include a panel on mental health featuring medical professionals from IUPUI and Kurt Vonnegut’s daughter Nanny Vonnegut speaking about her grandmother’s struggle with mental health crises.
· VonnegutFest is an annual celebration of the power of the arts and humanities designed to help us communicate and find common ground, and nationally recognized scholars and speakers lead events that force us to think more deeply about who we are and how we live. This three-day event will feature several Lonesome No More programs: “Reclaiming Armistice Day,” is all about veterans using art and other resources to adjust back into society; the release of our literary magazine, So It Goes, with contributors reading their work aloud; Lonesome No More Through Faith Communities, a panel of religious leaders speaking about mental health hosted by Rabbi Dennis Sasso and Rev. John Denson; and the annual Timequake Clambake, a festive night of humor and thought-provoking discussion.
Our goal is $65,000, but if we've met our goal, you should still pledge!
Here’s why: When a group raises money through Kickstarter and doesn’t make its listed goal, it doesn’t get to keep the money. $65,000 is our minimum goal, meaning it’s just enough to keep our Lonesome No More programming afloat. But we don’t want to just stay afloat. We want to bring passion and mental health awareness into the hearts of our library patrons and the good citizens around the globe. Also, not 100% of your donations make it all the way to us. Our kind friends at Kickstarter receive a small portion of the money we raise, for example, and it takes a little extra money for us to organize and order some of the special prizes. In short, making our goal is awesome and cause for celebration, but if you have a little extra money to give when we’re past that point, that’s even more awesome and even more cause for celebration.
For those who are struggling, you are not alone. Please contact the national suicide hotline at: 1-800-273-8255 or click here.
Risks and challenges
Compared to previous Kickstarter projects we've begun, this project is the least risky and least challenging (although we are often challenged by being a small staff). We at KVML have put on incredible programs that benefit our attendees. After only six years of existence, we know what we are doing when it comes to what our audience wants. We know this because we ask our audience... at the end of programs and in occasional member surveys... we ask you what you like and don't like, and we incorporate your recommendations into our future programs.
KVML has enlisted some of the best and brightest minds locally and nationally to help us put together an incredible year of programming that can be accessed for all electronically, if not in person. In some cases, we have worked with these community partners before, and we know what to expect. In other cases, partners are brand new, and we will learn how each other operates. But one comforting aspect of this is that the partners we have chosen all have far more experience than we do in certain areas of expertise... substance abuse training and coping, suicide prevention techniques, counseling, etc. We feel great about trusting our partners to create quality programs along side us.
There really is no risk to supporting this wonderful year of programming because KVML has already done a great job of planning our programs and putting time into the logistics required to make each event great. We want to touch as many lives as possible so that as many people as possible will be Lonesome No More.
The Vonnegut Library wishes to thank Kurt Vonnegut LLC for its support in allowing us to use the phrase Lonesome No More. A close relationship with Kurt Vonnegut LLC allows us to have special permissions that make our programs better and reduce the likelihood for risks and challenges.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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