Photo by Mike Hollar/Florida Keys News Bureau
A Key West exhibit memorialising iconic playwright Tennessee Williams has been expanded to become the Tennessee Williams Museum, officially set to open in the Florida Keys island city on 15 December.
The museum has evolved from the popular Tennessee Williams Key West Exhibit following its merger with the Key West Art & Historical Society. Located at 513 Truman Avenue in the heart of Key West, the new museum is a little over a mile from Duncan Street where Williams resided for 34 years, a site that literary fans regularly seek out to view the historic property.
Image by Greg Tromba
After arriving in Key West in the late 1940s, Williams lived as an openly gay man with his partner Frank Merlo and had a pivotal influence on the island’s literary culture. The award-winning playwright penned classics including The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
According to founder and curator Dennis Beaver, the exhibit features the largest permanent collection of Williams memorabilia currently on display to the public. Highlights include personal photographs of Williams at home with Merlo and friends, first-edition plays and books, a typewriter used by Williams when he lived in Key West, an artist-crafted model of his island home and even the original steps from the film adaptation of Williams’ play ‘The Rose Tattoo,’ which was filmed in Key West.
Image by Carol Tedesco
Dennis Beaver commented:
“I am delighted that the literary legacy of Tennessee Williams, ‘outed’ as gay by the press early in his career, will flourish under the stewardship of the Key West Art & Historical Society whose goal is to keep Key West history alive and accessible to the public.”
Image by Greg Tromba
For bookworms keen to learn more about Key West’s literary history, the Old Town Literary Walking Tour runs each Friday and Saturday. The tour illuminates stories of writers that have called Key West home and features the former homes and favourite haunts of writers including Williams and Robert Frost. The 90-minute tours depart Fridays at 4:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 10 a.m. from in front of the Monroe County Public Library at 700 Fleming St. Of course, literary fans visiting Key West can also stop by the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum at 907 Whitehead St. to explore the legendary writer’s residence and see some of the 40-50 cats — many of them six-toed — that live on the property.
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