The Legacy of Slaughterhouse-Five
The Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library (KVML) is dedicated to championing the legacy of writer Kurt Vonnegut and the principles of free expression and common decency. “Unstuck in Time: Slaughterhouse-Five Then and Now” will be a new, permanent exhibition for KVML exploring Vonnegut’s most-read novel, Slaughterhouse-Five. The funds raised through the generosity of backers like you will go towards this exhibition and towards programming that upholds the legacy of Slaughterhouse-Five and builds understanding about the importance of storytelling for personal meaning-making.
Written in part to process Vonnegut’s experience as a prisoner-of-war in WWII, Slaughterhouse-Five tells the story of Billy Pilgrim, a soldier who becomes “unstuck in time.” The book explores an emotional and crucial time in history and acts as a catalyst for conversation about peace, trauma, and relationships.
Help KVML create and install “Unstuck in Time,” KVML’s first exhibition to focus on a Vonnegut text. Though KVML has been operating a museum since 2011, we've never had an exhibit that offered a deep-dive into a Vonnegut text. Kurt used Slaughterhouse-Five as a way to examine his own experience in war, as well as a way to prompt readers to think more broadly about the effects of violence. KVML wanted to bring this book to life for visitors and allow all museum-goers--whether they've read Slaughterhouse-Five or not--to have the opportunity to think about the connections between personal trauma, societal well-being, and personal narrative.
The “Unstuck in Time” exhibition will include a walk-through tunnel of the firebombing of Dresden, art by Kurt Vonnegut and other veterans, and biographical information about Kurt Vonnegut’s experience as a Prisoner of War during WWII. Every part of “Unstuck in Time: Slaughterhouse-Five Then and Now” will emphasize that literature, including Slaughterhouse-Five, is an important societal tool for understanding complex human experiences.
As part of the exhibition, visitors will also have the opportunity to share how personal narrative writing has helped them process their own stories. In one section, visitors will be invited to journal about their experiences with trauma. The “Unstuck in Time” exhibition will also feature a Call-to-Action area, where visitors will be presented with challenges and solutions to which they can contribute.
This project will also help KVML offer programming for veterans, students, and the general public about the power of the arts and humanities to help us heal as individuals and as a society. In the past, KVML has offered book discussion groups for veterans, personal writing workshops for female veterans and the incarcerated population, and a Slaughterhouse-Five personal narrative curriculum for eighth grade students. The programming connected with the “Unstuck in Time” exhibition will build on KVML’s tradition of offering these programs, but also provide participants with a unique and thought-provoking space to explore as part of the programs.
KVML is currently planning “Unstuck in Time: Slaughterhouse-Five Then and Now” for its new building that it is in the process of renovating. KVML is very excited to finally have a permanent home in which to honor Kurt's legacy. We have enlisted some of the brightest minds to help us shape the space 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. KVML will be opening its new building on a rolling basis, beginning with a grand opening on November 9, 2019 and concluding by December 30, 2020.
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. A World War II veteran, pacifist, satirist, humanist, environmentalist, visual artist, and internationally acclaimed writer, Kurt Vonnegut is one of the most influential American writers and thinkers of the 20th century.
Kurt was born and raised in Indianapolis, and the city of his birth had a profound impact on him. He said, “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.” It is fitting then, that Vonnegut’s legacy continue in Indianapolis through the work of the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library.
Kurt’s words, art, and ideas continue to be highly influential. People visit his museum from all over the world because of how his work has shaped who they are and how they live. He wrote fourteen books, three collections of short fiction, plays, television adaptations, and numerous essays. Vonnegut’s main publisher, Random House, estimates that there are more than 11 million copies of Vonnegut’s books currently in print.
Today, more than ever, we believe it is important to have a space dedicated to upholding Kurt Vonnegut’s legacy and spurring discussions about topics that mattered to him: how to be kind, creative, and connected.
About the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library:
The Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library (KVML) is a 501c(3) nonprofit in Indianapolis, Indiana. We champion Vonnegut and the principles he believed in by operating a museum, by hosting arts and humanities programming, and by conducting outreach to audiences in Indianapolis and beyond. In 2018, we reached 165,738 people with the words and messages of Vonnegut through key initiatives, including:
● Operating tours of Vonnegut memorabilia and artifacts for visitors to the museum (when museum space is open);
● Hosting arts and humanities events for the veterans’ community, students, teachers, and the general public; and
● Conducting programming to raise awareness about censorship, including celebrating Freedom to Read Week every year.
Risks and challenges
Renovating space inherently involves risks and challenges. The largest of these would be not raising enough funds to renovate the building and create the Slaughterhouse-Five exhibition. However, KVML is committed to creating a Slaughterhouse-Five exhibition, and the support raised through this Kickstarter project will go to an exhibition and to programming for the veterans’ community and the general public. The risk is only that it would take longer than KVML anticipates at this time. We have a history of success on Kickstarter, successfully fundraising for and implementing three projects.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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