When the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library signed a purchase agreement in early March to buy the building at 543 Indiana Ave., it had just 90 days to raise $1.5 million to close the deal.
Tough goal, long odds. Just not tough enough or long enough.
Julia Whitehead, the Vonnegut Museum’s executive director, has made it official: The goal has been met, the building will be theirs. “For the past 75 days, we’ve asked, and asked, and asked some more, and you’ve given, and given, and given some more,” Whitehead said in an online posting.
“As the clock ticked last night, we met our goal earlier than expected. We cheered, and cried, and gave thanks to each and every one of you who helped us secure the funding for Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Forever Home.’”
Whitehead said the fund-raising effort attracted donations from over 1,300 people with contributions ranging from a few dollars to thousands.
“As a bonus, we heard from folks who shared how Kurt’s work or, in some cases, Kurt himself made a difference in your lives. Wow! He touched so many, and you’ve touched us. We are grateful and look forward to sharing our building progress as we move toward a fall opening-day goal.”
The Vonnegut Museum and Library has been closed since late last year, operating only as a small gift shop in Circle Centre. Now, the tribute to the city’s famed novelist will be able to reopen in the building which over the past few years has been home to several (mostly short-lived) restaurant ventures – from Peyton’s Place to Zing and Corner Cantina.
When she announced the fund-raising effort in early March, Whitehead said, “These funds will allow us to purchase the building and begin renovations needed to open to the public. We’ll need additional funds beyond that to install our exhibitions and offer our programs for students, teachers, veterans, and general readers. We’ve touched the lives of several hundred thousand people over these years as a startup organization, but now we are ready for the next phase.”
Whitehead has said that once the new building is purchased and renovated, plans for the expanded “Museum & Library” include a new Slaughterhouse-Five exhibition, a new Freedom of Expression exhibition, a Vonnegut & Jazz exhibition, voter registration kiosks, and exhibitions of the organization’s large collection of Vonnegut artifacts and memorabilia, currently being held in safekeeping by the Indiana State Museum and the Indiana Historical Society.
She also said the first level may host a restaurant to complement the Vonnegut project. “If the stars align, this will make for a powerful visitor experience and hangout for residents and those who work Downtown,” Whitehead continued. “There’s no better way to celebrate this important anniversary year than by giving the community an environment in which to share those things that mattered to Vonnegut: community, humor, music, art, literature, theater, and common decency.”
Whitehead said multiple naming opportunities are available for rooms, exhibitions and more, starting with $50,000 gifts and higher. She said a donor in Illinois has already made a $100,000 gift.
“If $50K+ is a little more than you can handle,” she added, “please know any donation will make a difference. We look forward to making this journey along with all of Vonnegut’s biggest fans.”
Although the campaign to buy the building is a success, Whitehead stressed that contributions are still needed to make the project a reality.
To contribute, go to https://www.vonnegutlibrary.org/support/make-a-donation/?blm_aid=28355