Check out Sheryl DeVore’s article, Ray Bradbury museum offers virtual tour of his life in Waukegan, in the Lake County News Sun/Chicago Tribune about #RBEM and our virtual tour of Waukegan. #RayBradbury #VirtualTour #WaukeganIL
One of the most important places in American fantasy and science fiction author Ray Bradbury’s life as a child was the library.
That’s why the Ray Bradbury Experience Museum has included a photo and video about the Carnegie Library in Waukegan in a virtual tour of places Bradbury visited while living in the city known as Green Town.
The virtual tour is one of several online portals people can explore on the museum’s website the News & Media tab.
The tour includes a walking map of places Bradbury visited when he lived in Waukegan, along with photos and videos explaining his connection to these places. Far from complete, the museum opened its doors in August for limited entry to show the public plans for coming interactive exhibits, as well as some that could be viewed safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the pandemic continues, the museum is offering online experiences such as the virtual tour and the “I Met Ray” video project, also in the News & Media tab. The virtual tour, paid for with a grant from Chicago-based nonprofit Illinois Humanities, focus a great deal on the library, one of Bradbury’s favorite places, according to Sandra Petroshius, committee chair of the museum. “Bradbury just loved the library,” said Petroshius, who grew up in Waukegan and lives in Lake Forest. “He showed that in his writings,” she said.
Bradbury’s book, “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” is set in the library, and one of the characters works at a library, she said.
Genesee Theatre also appears in the virtual tour.
“Ray Bradbury was a complete movie fan,” Petroshius said. “His mother took him to the movies all the time.” He particularly loved Lon Chaney, the early 1900s actor who portrayed the phantom in “The Phantom of the Opera,” among other creepy characters, she said.
“Ray Bradbury was (into) the pop culture of the times. He was into comics. He was into movies and into imagination. He was passionate about all that.”
A short video in the virtual tour called “The Cuban Experience” refers to Bradbury’s recollection of a cigar lounge he walked by as a youngster, and which he also mentions in “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” Mr. Tetley, the cigar shop owner in the story, falls victim to Mr. Dark’s temptations at the Pandemonium Carnival and becomes one of the Autumn People, never to be seen again, according to the museum’s website.
The virtual tour also includes visits to Bradbury’s childhood home, a ravine he explored as a youngster, and the park named after him. Also online is a project called, “I Met Ray.” Videos feature people “who have either personally met Ray or have been influenced by him,” Petroshius said. “They’re real treasures. We have some up now and we have more to edit.”
Petroshius said the museum committee continues to seek funding to create interactive exhibits, meant to be the centerpiece of the museum. These include various rooms named after titles of Bradbury’s works and will immerse visitors not only in the book, but also in the book’s theme. The first room, The Martian Chronicles, is planned, but funding has not available during the pandemic, Petroshius said.
“Right now, we are open for non-interactive exhibits. We are showing people our future plans and we have some exhibits up and we have some fantastic murals and videos.” The committee is working on a new exhibit called Best Wishes Ray.
“Bradbury would get 300 letters a week,” Petroshius said. “He sooner or later wrote back to everybody. People have sent us the letters, postcards. The exhibit will show you the interaction between Ray and the people who loved him.”
Bradbury began writing on a toy typewriter when he was age 12, she said. The exhibit will feature vintage typewriters where people can talk back to Ray Bradbury. “People seem to love that” type of exhibit in a museum, she said.
Sheryl DeVore is a freelance reporter for the News-Sun.