Nelson Algren Museum opens in Miller Beach

April 4, 2017

Submitted by: Donna Lind

The more I learn about the history surrounding our Dunes and National Lakeshore, the more I want to know. At every turn I find stories of talented, artistic people who have been drawn to this area for its ability to enhance the creative spirit.

Sunday, March 26 was the opening celebration of the Nelson Algren Museum in Miller Beach and after a weekend of rain, the afternoon skies cleared to host a pleasantly warm and dry afternoon. The weather was perfect for the large group of museum founders and Algren enthusiasts who milled around the pocket park and crowded into the lower level of the old Illinois Bell Telephone building in downtown Miller.

The standing-room only crowd was treated to background on how the museum came about by founders Sue Rutsen and George Rogge, stories about Algren from visitors with personal connections, including photographer Art Shay, and a great story from Marcy Huttas of Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago about Algren’s stolen bicycle and the replica (or is it?) that is now housed in the museum.

The keynote speaker was Mary Wisniewski, author of the book, “Algren: A Life,” who read excerpts from her book and spoke both candidly and fondly of Algren, his life, his loves and his work.

I ended up buying the book.  How could I not?  It’s all so fascinating to me.  I am looking forward to reading Algren’s classic books, “The Man with the Golden Arm” and “A Walk on the Wild Side,” as well as looking up Art Shay’s photographs, several of which line the walls of the Algren Museum.

Algren would have turned 108 on March 28.  Happy Birthday, Nelson.

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The Nelson Algren Museum is located at 541 S. Lake Street in Miller Beach. It will be open on First Fridays and by appointment. Contact Sue Rutsen for more information or to set up a time to step inside. 773-914-2574 or

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