Saturday, May 13, 2017

Young at Heart

Fairy tales can come true, i
t can happen to you, if you're young at heart.

— Carolyn Leigh

A former association executive's dream comes true this week when the American Writers Museum opens in Chicago.

The museum is the brainchild of Malcolm O’Hagan, who ran NEMA—the National Electrical Manufacturers Association—from 1991 to 2005.

The museum treats visiting littérateurs to a smorgasboard of great American writers, from Nathaniel Hawthorne to Harper Lee, Mark Twain to Maya Angelou, Billy Wilder to Bob Dylan.

O’Hagan undertook the project eight years ago, after a trip to the Dublin Writers Museum.

He left the Dublin museum wondering why there was no equivalent among the 17,500 museums in America.

Within a year, he started a nonprofit, whose board would eventually raise $10 million to found one.

Raising that amount was no cakewalk.

During the seven years required, O'Hagan sent over 39,000 emails to donors.

"When I embarked upon this mission I made a ten year commitment," O'Hagan says in an interview with Tin House.

"Nothing worth doing is easy if you want to do it right."

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