Advocacy Alert: June 30

Illinois State Museum System at Risk of Closure; Show Your Support!

As a result of the ongoing negotiations to close a $4 billion state budget deficit, the Illinois State Museum system—including sites in Springfield, Lewistown, Lockport, Whittington and Chicago—has been ordered to begin preparing for closure, including dismantling exhibits to return loaned work to artists and returning artisan work on consignment.

Springfield’s State Journal-Register weighed in forcefully over the weekend, noting, “For 138 years, the Illinois State Museum has been a priority for the state, through wars, economic downturns and tough times. If leaders choose to close the museum, Illinois will invalidate decades of valuable and meaningful research and preservation work, as well as people's interest in the state's history and culture.”

As one of the first institutions to be awarded a system-wide AAM accreditation, the Illinois State Museum is a leading institution in the country. Please help save the museum by taking action today.

The Illinois State Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability is required under the State Facilities Closure Act to take public comments and hold a hearing about the plan to close the Illinois State Museum. The public comment period is open through July 22; a public hearing has been scheduled for July 13 and an advisory recommendation will be rendered in early August. Learn more about the process thus far and check back for future updates and decisions. Additional information about the requirements of the State Facilities Closure Act can be found on the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability web site.

You can help by registering your support for the Illinois State Museum.

There are three ways to make your voice heard:

“The American Alliance of Museums urges all Illinois museum professionals and supporters to take a stand that the Illinois State Museum system must not be a casualty of this budget battle in Springfield,” said AAM President and CEO Laura Lott. “And I call on Governor Rauner and the state legislature to work together to keep the museum open so it can continue serving the citizens of Illinois and all who visit from across the country.”

The Illinois State Museum maintains a vital collection of Illinois history, welcomes 33,000 schoolchildren each year through school visits and has a significant economic impact on the Illinois economy.

The American Alliance of Museums is working with the Illinois Association of Museums, the Association of Midwest Museums and the Illinois Heritage Association, among others, to keep the museum open, including sending a letter to Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner opposing this action.

Please visit www.aam-us.org/advocacy for more information about the American Alliance of Museums’ advocacy for museums.

P.S. In case it is helpful, we are providing an example of what public comments might look like:

“The Illinois State Museum is a vital resource to our state, our schoolchildren, our universities, our researchers and it plays a vital role in the Illinois economy. Teachers at my school have benefited from professional development at the museum and our students enjoy learning about our state’s history through a hands-on, tangible experience. The Illinois State Museum employs nearly 70 people in our community and serves over 680,000 visitors each year. It would cause great economic harm to our community, both to lose this many local jobs and to lose the tourism dollars that are the direct result of the Illinois State Museum. Further, it would be a terrible blow to the outstanding reputation of this AAM-accredited institution if it had to close its doors, especially since accreditation requires that the collection be open to the public. I strongly urge you to reconsider this misguided decision and keep the museum open.”