Mark Vonnegut said he “would love to see a Kurt Vonnegut museum in Indianapolis.” Vonnegut was speaking at a special briefing for the press last Friday night prior to reading the lecture his father, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., had intended to give as this year’s McFadden Lecture, sponsored by the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library at Clowes Hall.
Vonnegut was to responding to news that his father’s boyhood home on north Illinois St. is currently for sale. Vonnegut said he would like to see his father’s library and other memorabilia saved as a collection rather than dispersed in pieces. He said that placing this material in the house that his grandfather, Kurt Sr., built and that has the childhood handprints of his father, aunt and uncle in concrete near the entryway, is “a natural idea.” Similar projects have been undertaken on behalf of other writers, such as Mark Twain, James Thurber and, in Indianapolis, James Whitcomb Riley.
“Maybe people in Indianapolis think [a Kurt Vonnegut museum] should be on Cape Cod, or in New York,” said Vonnegut, referring to the two other places where his father lived, “but I think it should be here.” Vonnegut said his father thought of Indianapolis as a “democratic, populist place,” and that “he had a beautiful childhood” here.
The lecture that Mark Vonnegut presented was dated “2/27/07” by his father on the original manuscript, indicating, said Vonnegut, that this was the last written work for the public his father completed before he died on April 11. Vonnegut said his father “was really, really serious about being funny,” adding I think it’s amazing that a guy, 80, was still making new jokes.”