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Heartbreak in Oak Park: The Ernest Hemingway museum and childhood home

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Winter can cause many families to run indoors to escape the cold. The cold weather and long nights can cause many people to feel sad and winter blues. One way to beat the cold and learn more about emotions is to visit the many historical homes and museums the city has to offer. One historical home and museum is the Ernest Hemingway foundation which includes his childhood home and museum dedicated to the author in Oak Park, IL. The foundation started in 1989 acquiring much of Ernest’s memorabilia from a collector and Ernest's elder sister Marcelline which allowed for the museum to be constructed. The foundation purchased Ernest’s childhood home in 1992.

The museum features artifacts from Ernest Hemingway's childhood and travels especially the time period that influenced his fascination with love and war. The museum has artifacts including rare photos of Hemingway and his childhood diary. The museum’s main focus is the relationship Hemingway had with war and many loves of his life including a letter from nurse Agnes von Kurowsky-later portrayed in A Farewell to Arms-terminating their engagement. Thus leaving Ernest in heartbreak and laid the foundation of war and love lost in his books. After leaving the museum head across the street to his childhood home which is including in your ticket for viewing. The cost of the museum are as a followed children under 5 are free and those up to 18 are $8 with adults being $10. The museum is open from Sunday thru Friday 1pm-5pm and Saturday 10am-5pm.

The house features a replica of many of the rooms in his childhood home in the late 1800’s. It gives a chance for the viewer to experience life in Chicago suburbs in the late 1800’s. The family was well known and well respected throughout the area. Ernest Hemingway’s father was a doctor the home features many of his father’s trappings that showcase his career. The home showcases each individual’s personality and role in the family including maid quarters and a room for his in laws and grandfather. The house becomes a teaching tool to showcase how many families lived in this part of the country during the early 1900’s. After visiting the home and museums take an opportunity after to create a art project based on families loss.

Objective: This lesson is to examine how we deal with losing people we lost such as death and family splits such as divorce.

Materials:

  • Red, Pink, White heart cut out construction papers

  • White drawing paper

  • Glitter Glue

  • Markers

  • Glue sticks

Procedure:

1. Lay out the construction paper cut outs, glitter glue, glue sticks, markers, and white drawing paper for all the children.

2. Start the discussion on how sometimes families can go through painful experiences such as divorce or loss of a parent. Children are encouraged to discuss how Ernest dealt with loss using art such as writing. Children are asked to make a heart and decorate it for the person they loss or miss due to any situation.

3. The hearts can be framed as a keepsake and placed in the child’s room to show how one can get through experience.

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