Oak Park and Ernest Hemingway—who knew right

I bet you never would have thought Ernest Hemingway had been born in Oak Park, Illinois let alone a whole museum was named after him. Frank Lloyd seems to steal Mr. Hemingway’s spot light quite often.

The Ernest Hemingway Birthplace and Museum are both located on Oak Park Avenue and catty corner from each other. The museum looks like it is housed in an old library and the birthplace home has been restored to when the Hemingways lived there. The museum and birthplace are open Sunday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The museum admission is $10 for Adults and $8 for seniors/students. Children younger than 5 are free.

The Ernest and his family only lived in the birthplace until he was six years old. The birthplace admission is included in the museum price. The guides are very knowledgeable on restoration as well as the family’s history and the all the furniture in the house. Photos can be taken inside the home and the guides are patient with photos as well as answering all questions. The visitor can feel the family warmth and love that was once in the home.

The museum is small, but well curated.  The museum is one large exhibit beginning with Ernest’s birth to his death. Although, Ernest left Oak Park after the 1920s and only returned once for his father’s funeral, the influences on his younger years in Oak Park can be seen through out his life. In the exhibit, a few highlights to see are topics of the Oak Park Years, Hemingway and the Natural World which speaks of his time in Michigan as a young man, and how Hemingway wrote his first novel, A Farewell to Arms. His life was full of interesting twists and turns and the museum covers them all, if not briefly. What to look for are letters to and from Marcelline. Marcelline was Ernest’s sister and the two were only a year apart and quite close. If you read her book, At the Hemingways: With Fifty Years of Correspondence Between Ernest and Marcelline Hemingway , you see the Hemingways as a unit and Ernest many of the times as center of attention. Looking at his life through the museum and his sister is truly can experience. Reading their letters from early and then later in life and seeing how each views one other is extremely intimate as well. The book and the museum go well together.

Furthermore, the Ernest Hemingway Foundation is seeking funds to buy and restore Ernest’s home that he later grew up in after moving from his birthplace. Life in Oak Park may have been a bit boring at times, but was Ernest’s foundation and inspiration for many of his novels later in life. The museum and birthplace are an excellent place to visit if you are in the mood for literature and a short get away from the city for a day.

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