340 N. Senate Avenue
Indianapolis Indiana 46204United States
With a small display of Kurt Vonnegut's paintings and personal items, this library and art gallery is a quick stop designed for serious fans.
The new Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library is a wonderful idea on paper. The quirky author had a stormy relationship with his hometown of Indianapolis: He mocked the city in his books, but he visited frequently and often said kind things about Indy in interviews. So it's fitting that the city should pay tribute to its most famous native author (he died in 2007) at the library, which opened in 2011. Highlights of the library, which is really more of an art gallery, include some of Vonnegut's paintings and personal items, such as his typewriter and his Purple Heart medal. You'll also see a wall-size timeline of Vonnegut's life, as well as a re-creation of Vonnegut's workspace, complete with a hideous red rooster lamp. You can have a seat on the low chair and type a note on the typewriter, just as Vonnegut typed out each of his novels. The tiny gift shop offers dozens of copies of "Slaughterhouse Five" but not a single copy of the more obscure Vonnegut book we'd been meaning to buy. A place like this really ought to stock the complete catalog of the author it seeks to promote. We also noticed some typos on the signage -- not obvious grammatical errors, but style-type errors that a professional proofreader should have caught. Overall, the problem, really, is that this library takes Vonnegut and his work too seriously --something he never would have done. Where are the lighthearted mockumentaries about the habits of Tralfamadorians and the perils of Ice Nine? Where are the biographies and portraits of Vonnegut's recurring characters, such as Kilgore Trout? Where is the exhibit about all the insults Vonnegut hurled at Indianapolis in his books? Instead, we have a silent, gray art gallery with a glass-encased typewriter. Bottom line: The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library will hold interest for only the most diehard fans, and even then it's not worth a special trip. A complete visit takes about 20 minutes. Admission is free, so it's worth a quick stop -- if you're familiar with Vonnegut's work and happen to be nearby.