Dr. Amy McEuen on the ISM Closing (Rally for Fairness, Springfield)

amy crop

Thank you for inviting Save the Illinois State Museum to speak today.

As you know, part of what our great state has lost given the Governor’s continued tactics is a state museum system open to the public. Every day our museum system remains closed the losses mount and morale among the staff becomes lower, people find jobs elsewhere and leave Illinois. The staff who remain continue to work diligently behind closed doors to keep the 13.5 million curated objects maintained, they continue their research but now lack the forum to communicate it to the public. We have AFSCME to thank for the fact that these staff are still working and not whittled down to the staff of three, three, that the DNR director declared adequate to curate 13.5 million objects across all the facilities.

The museum closure has been a loss to the public and to Illinois working families. No more public lectures by scientists, historians, and artists, no more science education events, no more play museum for parents of high energy, curious -toddlers. It has been a loss to artists. No more Illinois Artisans program which allowed artists (essentially small business entrepreneurs) to sell their work at museum sites around the state. It has been a loss to science and historical research. No more outside researchers coming to the museum. No more loans of objects for research purposes. No more student internships. No more public exhibits showcasing the art, culture and natural history of our state. But these are not isolated losses. The museum was a coherent whole, a team of scientists, curators, education specialists who worked together in a coordinated fashion, a team that took decades, decades to build and only months for politicians to weaken.

As a women in science myself, I am personally outraged that my community has lost a role model for science leadership with the forced retirement of former director Bonnie Styles. She is not alone; six of ten science staff have now retired. The museum’s accreditation is now at risk since the American Alliance of Museums put the museum on probation in October.

I am going to end with a few demands. First on behalf of nearly 15,000 FB followers, we demand that the Governor sign SB 317 which would open the museum back up. The political will of the people of Illinois is clear, just sign the damn bill. We demand that the museum be opened back up and run, as it has been in the past, with highly-trained, professional curators and scientists in all disciplines, not political appointees. We demand that the governor apologize for the damage he has done to the ISM, to our state’s reputation, to the state of science in Illinois, and to the morale of the people who show up day after day after day because they believe in something bigger than themselves: understanding our culture and history, unlocking the mysteries of the natural world, teaching the next generation. Finally, we demand he start governing and work for a fair budget and listen to the voices of the people.

I’ll end with something I have said before. Museums are not something you close in hard times. Museums are refuges in hard times as they serve to remind us that times have been hard before and people still figured out a way forward. The Illinois  State Museum was founded in 1877, for 138 years it has served to help the people of Illinois understand our past in order to chart our future. It survived World War I, the great depression, and World War II…and hopefully it will survive this administration. Governor Rauner, open our museum now!


Society for American Archaeology (SAA) Letter to the Chicago Tribune


Illinois State Museum

As President of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA), I write on behalf of our nearly 8,000 members to strongly oppose Governor Rauner’s scheduled shuttering of the Illinois State Museum (ISM).

Founded in 1934, SAA is an international organization dedicated to researching, interpreting, and protecting the archaeological heritage of the Americas. It represents professional archaeologists in colleges and universities, museums, government agencies, and the private sector.

By closing the ISM, Governor Rauner goes against the recommendations of the very Illinois State review panel he appointed to assess a possible closure.

Closing the ISM is, as shown by the Illinois Office of Tourism visitor spending estimates, penny-wise and pound-foolish: it makes money for the State. The ISM hosts nearly half a million visitors a year. Closing the ISM may also expose the state to legal challenges, as ISM has curation agreements with agencies and tribes.

The ISM’s nationally renowned collections are a key resource for assessing the long-term histories of humans and natural communities in the region – invaluable in a time of heightened climate variability.

Most importantly, closing ISM deprives the people of Illinois of their history. Respect for natural and cultural heritage grows from knowledge of it. No other public or private institution in Illinois conveys to its citizens such a rich sense of their natural and human history.

—Diane Gifford-Gonzalez, President, Society for American Archaeology, Santa Cruz, California

Copyright © 2015, Chicago Tribune

Five Things To Do In September To Help Save the Illinois State Museum

Abe five things new

1.     March with STISM at the front of the Springfield Labor Day Parade in your rally tee and bring your friends of all ages! Lineup starts at 9:00 a.m. in the Horace Mann Parking lot. See our event on our FB page for details. We’ll have signs and more tees to hand out.

2.     After Labor Day, we need everyone to call their house representative to vote for S.B. 317–the bill to keep ISM open. It’s our only hope. We’ve made it easy for you. Just click here.

3.     Visit your nearest ISM now. October 1 may be too late.

4.     Sign the petition* and share it on your FB page. We delivered 11,000 signatures to the Governor in mid-July, but more is better. We’d like to reach 15,000+ signatures by the end of the month.

5.     Like our  FB page* and invite your friends to like it. There’s no need to sign up for FB to see it.

  •  At the Save the ISM home page, in the box on the left, click on Invite Friends to Like this Page.
  • Click on All Friends (or select a smaller group or individual).
  • Click Send Invites

*Numbers make a difference–Senator Andy Manar cited “public outcry” over the closing when he introduced the bill to keep it open. Large numbers also impress legislators whose votes we need to save the ISM.

Letter to the Editor, Illinois State Museum closure, Chicago Tribune

eric grimm

Letter to the Editor:

Illinois has produced numerous leaders for our nation, including our most revered president, Abraham Lincoln. Over the past 200 years, the state has played a central role in the industrial and agricultural development of America. Illinois has also been a leader in culture and education, with excellent orchestras, universities and museums. How then can the state possibly be verging on the unthinkable – closing the much-acclaimed Illinois State Museum?I’ll share one example: Dr. Eric Grimm is a scientist whose specialty is uncovering long term changes in our natural world. His brilliant studies have illuminated the history of vegetation and climate in Illinois and beyond. Research in his field involves collection of sediment cores from lakes and bogs and the measurement of changes in abundance of fossil pollen grains that have been dispersed by different plants since the last ice age. An array of sites then allows mapping of landscape dynamics, revealing how the natural world has shifted. Why does this matter? Only by understanding the long term natural variability of the climate and related systems can we understand our modern world.Dr. Grimm is a nationally and internationally renowned scientist. With the closure of the Illinois State Museum, he would certainly leave and his expertise and experience would be irreplaceable. I urge the proud citizens of the Land of Lincoln to prevent that closing.  Anything less would be a shame in every sense of the word.

Since 1988, Grimm has been a leader and innovator in Illinois and globally. He pioneered essential research techniques and realized that gathering and curating data from sites all across Illinois, North America and other continents would provide a powerful tool for understanding change. Having competed for national funding from NOAA and NSF, he led the creation of what is now a global database used daily by scientists, archaeologists, historians and others. He personally wrote the computer code for a program now used daily – at almost no cost – by thousands of scholars throughout the world.

Perhaps the citizens of Illinois don’t realize the treasure housed in Springfield. Even in Maine I have had firsthand experience with both the museum and its researchers and curators. The excellent exhibits provide a wonderful journey through the state’s natural and cultural history. The museum also has a superb staff, including top-flight scholars who oversee collections and conduct research that provides context.

How can Illinois possibly be verging on the unthinkable – closing the Illinois State Museum?

—George L. Jacobson, Professor Emeritus of Biology, Ecology and Climate Change, University of Maine, Orono, Maine

Copyright © 2015, Chicago Tribune

How to find and contact your Illinois State Senator or State Representative


How to find and contact your Illinois State Senator or State Representative

Step 1:  Click on FIND MY LEGISLATOR and on OK in the Box in the center of the page.

Step 2:  At the top left, in the “Find Contact Information For” box, enter your county  and click. Then enter your street and town address and click Search. It will give you district numbers for your State Representative and State Senator. Note they are different. Click on “more details” for each to get office addresses, email, and phone and fax numbers.

Step 3:  You can find more information including email addresses, at their party’s webpages. Some have a Face Book page where you can post. And you can Google for more options.

HOUSE REPUBLICANS   Type in address, follow link to their webpage.

HOUSE DEMOCRATS   Click on “legislators” (hard to see/read) on top banner for A-Z list.

SENATE REPUBLICANS  Click on “Meet your Senator.”  Click on “Contact Us” to send a message.

SENATE DEMOCRATS  Click on your Senator for contact information. Try Google to find more information or a webpage.

Adapted from C.O.R.E

HELP! Contact your Representative on S.B. 317—how to and what to say!

call your representative

HELP!   We need to contact your Illinois General Assembly Representative!  and share this post with all your FB friends!

  1. Find your State Representative, using our post: “How to find and contact your Illinois State Senator or State Representative.” 

2)    Call (preferable) or email your representative. Here is a short script to help:

I’m calling to ask Representative XXXX to save the Illinois State Museum by voting yes on S.B. 317* which has passed the Senate and will soon be up for vote in the House. Governor Rauner has announced his intention to close the Illinois State Museum, and layoff notices have already been announced. The bill requires the state to keep the Museum open.

Thank you.

Sponsored by Representative Emily McAsey (D-Lockport) and co-sponsored by Representatives Raymond Poe (R-Springfield),  Sue Scherer (D-Springfield & Decatur),  John E. Bradley (D-Marion),  Tim Butler (R-Springfield),  Brandon W. Phelps (D-Harrisburg),  Arthur Turner (D-Chicago), Mike Smiddy (D-Port Byron) and Camille Y. Lilly (D-Chicago).

FYI:   S. B. 317 keeps the same name and number in the House as it had in the Senate.

State museum in Lockport re-opens with a full house

lockport gallery opening

A call for area artists to donate original artwork for an exhibit helped fill the walls again at the Illinois State Museum in Lockport. “The People’s Show,” a non-juried exhibit, opens Friday, July 31, 2015, with a reception at 6 p.m. The exhibit comes a month after state officials pulled exhibits from all museums because of the state’s budget crisis.

July 30, 2015, 9:32 p.m.

By Alicia Fabbre Daily Southtown

Four weeks ago, John Lustig was looking at blank walls inside the Illinois State Museum in Lockport.

With Illinois in budget crisis, the exhibits were removed from the building when the state could not cover insurance for the museum.

The museum re-opens Friday night with a new exhibit dubbed “The People’s Show.” The non-juried art show, which opens with a reception at 6 p.m., features 252 works of art from 115 artists from across the state. The show will be part of Lockport’s 2015 Summer Art Series.

Lockport reopens state-shuttered museum, calls on artists

Of the five museums run by the state, the Lockport museum is the only one that is re-opening and has an exhibit, Lustig said.

“We’ve got a full house,” said Lustig, museum director. “We’re very excited.”

Lustig put out a call last week for artists to lend the museum pieces to put on display. By Monday afternoon — less than 30 hours after his request made local news — a sign on the museum’s front door informed artists the museum had enough artwork and could no longer accept any additional pieces for the exhibit.

Museum staff — which includes Lustig and one full-time employee — have worked throughout the week to arrange the pieces. Artwork includes portraits, abstract pieces, photography and some sculptures. One piece, by artist Julia Haw, is a work that comments on the state’s budget crisis and politicians’ readiness to cut funding for the arts. Haw’s work was on display in the museum before it was closed. Lockport Mayor Steve Streit and his 9-year-old daughter also have artwork featured in the exhibit.

Though the museum has not yet received any state funding, the City of Lockport agreed to extend its insurance to cover the museum building. It remains unclear if the museum will be given funding to continue operations. Lustig said the museum’s annual operating budget is $190,000, but the cost of utilities is not covered in that budget.

“The idea that we would take away the arts in the State of Illinois is incomprehensible to me,” said Streit’s wife, Wendy, who also chairs the Summer Art Series committee.

Lustig said he testified at hearings earlier this month about the museum budget. An Aug. 5 meeting of a state committee will continue discussions about museum funding, Lustig said.

Lustig said he plans to keep “The People’s Show” open as long as possible. He noted if state funding is restored, it would still take two to three months to set up a new display.

“The People’s Show” can be viewed at the museum, located at 201 W. 10th Street, from 6 to 9 p.m. today. The museum also will be open from 12 to 5 p.m. on Sundays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

Alicia Fabbre is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

Copyright © 2015, Daily Southtown