By Lisa Fielding

CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s a project more than 7 years in the making.

“The American Writer’s Museum is a long over due book,” said Hill Hammock, Co Chairman, American Writer’s Museum Board. “Chicago has a rich literary tradition and we plan to see that continue to grow. Not only do we want to honor our past authors, but we want to engage current authors and more importantly, excite future authors who will bring their skills to this place.”

The American Writer’s Museum, located at 180 N. Michigan, was brought to Chicago mostly through private funding and was the brain child of Malcolm O’Hagen in 2010. WBBM’s Lisa Fielding reports.

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Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” (WBBM/Lisa Fielding)

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Cook County Board Chairman Toni Preckwinkle and other dignitaries were on hand for the grand opening and ribbon cutting of the 11,000 square foot space on the second floor of a Michigan Avenue office building.

“With this museum, we bring the world to Chicago,” Mayor Emanuel said. “It’s a telling time to reach this milestone of accomplishment for our city. It’ll serve as a magnet for people to come around the globe when they come to this great city to see a museum that not only connects us to cultures and continents, it also teaches us about compassion and conflict.”

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Cook County Board Chairman Toni Preckwinkle and other dignitaries helped cut the ribbon for the grand opening of the American Writer’s Museum (WBBM/Lisa Fielding)

The museum also features a writer’s room starting with Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” and it’s working manuscript as well as the 120-foot scroll on display.

The museum features novels, memoirs, poetry, screenplays, rap lyrics, journalism, advertising slogans and even comedy.

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The museum features a Writer’s Room starting with Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road’ and it’s working manuscript as well as the 120 foot scroll on display. (WBBM/Lisa Fielding)

“America is blessed to have a rich, colorful heritage of writers and word smiths from critics and novelists, to poets to songwriters who dove in headlong to broaden our horizons and push us to re-imagine the world as it should be,” Mayor Emanuel said.

Another area allows visitors to create their own stories, with a manual typewriter and writing pads. There is also a children’s wing the features Dr. Seuss and Maurice Sendeck, author of “Where The Wild Things Are.”

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The Writer’s Hall inside the American Writer’s Museum (WBBM/Lisa Fielding)

“Don’t ever let anyone tell you, no matter how important they think they are, that books don’t matter. Books do matter. They need to be promoted and encouraged,” said Dave McCullough, two time Pulitzer Prize winning author.

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The Word Waterfall at the American Writer’s Museum (WBBM/Lisa Fielding)

“Congratulations to all of you who made this happen. You’ve done not only something important for the city, but the country and may they come from every part of the country to soak up the intellectual, cultural energy of this great city. You made it happen,” McCullough said.

The American Writer’s Museum will officially open to the public on Tuesday, May 16th. Curators expect the venue to attract 120,000 visitors annually.

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