Announced Closure of IL State Museums by Governor Rauner Threatens Both Nature and Culture

A message by the Illinois Environmental Council, which we feel is worthy to pass on to our readers.

Illinois’ State Museums provide important environmental education opportunities to thousands of visitors each year. Governor Rauner recently announced that these museums are targeted for closure in the next fiscal year. In addition to important environmental education visits, facilities such as the Dickson Mounds and Lockport Gallery provide important learning facilities for critical conservation areas such as Emiquon NWR and TNC Preserve and the I&M Canal. Closing these museums during peak tourism season, when children are on summer break, would be a huge loss for Illinois and its families.

Per this announcement, the Illinois State Museum headquarters in Springfield will be closed. The other branch facilities targeted for closure include Dickson Mounds in Lewistown (50,000 visitors last year); the Illinois Artisans Shop and Chicago Gallery in the Thompson Center (Chicago, 103,000 visitors); the Lockport Gallery in Lockport (14,000 visitors); and the Southern Illinois Art Gallery at Rend Lake (18,000 visitors).

ISM Springfield

  • Changes: Dynamic Illinois Environments – An exhibition that explores 500 million years of environmental change in Illinois. Visitors see, hear, and touch our state’s natural history through hands-on interactive displays, audio and video effects, fossils, and more. The exhibit also teaches visitors how human actions affect the environment.
  • Peoples of the Past – Life-sized dioramas and artifacts bring to life Illinois’ rich Native American heritage.
  • The Mary Ann MacLean Play Museum – Children learn more about the environment by crawling through a cave, digging for fossils, assembling a baby mastodon, or exploring collections of fossils, insects, and artifacts.
  • Hot Science Gallery: The Science of Extinction – planned to run from April through September.
  • Summer Film Fest: Growing Up Wild: Penguins on Parade – Attendees will learn about penguins and other birds who cannot fly. Scheduled for June.
  • Story Time at the Museum: “A Sunny” Story Time – The sun keeps us warm, gives light, helps plants grow, and so much more. Scheduled for June.
  • Super Saturdays at the Museum: Solar Powered – Attendees will learn about the power of the sun, how big the sun is, and how a solar distillery works. Scheduled for June.
  • Summer Film Fest: Kids Discover Bats – There are over 1,000 kinds of bats. Attendees will learn about bats and how they can help bats survive. Scheduled for June.
  • Summer Film Fest: Growing Up Wild: Puppy Dog Tales – Attendees will learn about dogs, wolves, foxes, Australian dingoes, coyotes, jackals, and other canines. Scheduled for June.
  • Summer Film Fest: The Magic School Bus In a Bee Hive – Teaches kids about bees and how they communicate with other bees. Scheduled for July.

ISM Dickson Mounds Museum

  • A National Historic Site and one of the major on-site archaeological museums in the United States.
  • The River Valley Gallery – Explores the character of the Illinois River and traces the interaction between the river and the people who have lived along it from the end of the Ice Age to the present day.
  • Nature Adventure Camp for Kids – Participants will hike, canoe, bird watch, collect water samples, and learn how ancient and historic people used the resources of the land to survive. Scheduled for June.
  • Nature Trek: Geology Tour – Attendees will learn about the geology of the Lewistown-Havana area, and how the Illinois River Valley was formed. Scheduled for June.
  • Nature Trek: Experience a Voyageur Canoe – Attendees will paddle a voyageur canoe and learn about history, geology, and biology as they paddle on Thompson Lake. Scheduled for July.
  • Dickson Mounds is part of the Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway, which is one of many Illinois Scenic Byways that help draw visitors to Illinois.

ISM Chicago Gallery & Illinois Artisans, Chicago

  • Footprints Through Time: Artists Inspired by History – Prior to the modern “carbon footprints” concept, indigenous peoples embraced the concept of the interconnectivity of people and nature. This exhibition tells stories that broadly communicate the cultural and environmental landscape of Illinois.

ISM Lockport Gallery

  • Provides a jumping off point to explore the historic Illinois & Michigan Canal (opened 1848), a recreation trail, and a nature preserve.

Please consider taking action to tell the Governor and your state legislators to keep these museums open. 

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