CONTACT the COMMISSION HERE (oral testimony or written comments)
ATTN: Facility Closure 703 Stratton Building Springfield, IL 62706
Comments by: [YOUR NAME] [ADDRESS] [CITY, STATE, ZIP]
Facility Being Closed: Illinois State Museum System
I urge the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability to make a recommendation against closing the Illinois State Museum (ISM) System.
I am a [citizen, parent, artist, scientist, student, etc. Add a sentence or two about your experience and interaction with the ISM.]
I oppose closing the ISM for the reasons listed below: [Select one or two points you think are important. Copy and paste into your comments. Don’t try to cover everything—long comments are less likely to be read.]
NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED MUSEUM
- The ISM is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. (Fewer than 5% of museums are accredited.) An external team audited ISM and concluded that its exhibits, collections management procedures, and staff of highly trained professionals made it worthy of accreditation. Closure means losing accreditation which could take years to get back.
- The professional staff includes experienced and respected scientists, historians, and museum professionals, with specialties in fields such as anthropology, archaeology, the decorative arts, paleontology, botany, geology, and zoology. They will either leave or be let go, taking with them irreplaceable knowledge of the collections and their fields of expertise.
- ISM facilities house and protect more than 12.5 million objects including artworks, scientific specimens, historic artifacts and documents, archaeological and ethnographic collections. They preserve our collective cultural and natural heritage. Closing the ISM ends access to these collections–and the knowledge which is generated–for both the public and researchers. Moving artifacts elsewhere will jeopardize these irreplaceable collections.
- Closure will be costly for taxpayers and is a betrayal of the families of Illinois citizens who donated materials to the ISM museum with the understanding that they would be shared with the public in perpetuity. Some donors may pursue legal actions against the state regarding access and preservation. Closure especially impacts ISM’s unique collection of Native American artifacts, including human remains and sacred tribal objects which are governed by written agreements and federal law.
- ISM scientists conduct research that is internationally recognized, collaborating with others on complex, multi-disciplinary projects. Researchers rely on the Research and Collections Center in Springfield to do their work. University professors routinely expose their students, undergraduate to Ph.D.s, to the expertise of the ISM staff, as well as collections and facilities. Closure will jeopardize our position and reputation as a state at the forefront of scientific research and development.
- The ISM hosts public lectures, cultural events, concerts, and educational programs that help educate the public, build community partnerships, encourage civic engagement, and provides spaces where life-long friendships and business connections are made.
- The MacLean Play Museum in Springfield engages young children in science education through creative play. It hosts “Saturplay,” a free hands-on program that reached 7,000 people in 2014. The ISM’s summer camp allows students to explore art and science in a fun-filled atmosphere that creates a love of learning. The ISM educational programs aimed at children serve the entire community and are especially important for low-income families.
- 2,300 teachers and 40,000 school children visit the ISM annually. A fieldtrip to one of the ISM facilities is affordable for school districts operating on tight budgets and is often a highlight of the year for students. Educational staff specialize in creating excellent lesson plans that accompany exhibits. Plans and other educational materials are available online to anyone who can access the internet.
- Older students often volunteer at the museum as docents and research assistants. Their museum experience helps them succeed in school and prepares them to pursue careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, as well as the social sciences and humanities.
- In 2014, the ISM system saw over 370,000 on-site visitors, including 2,300 teachers and 40,000 school children. Another 1.5 million virtual visitors used its online resources. Visitors were enriched by its educational, cultural, and economic opportunities.
Chicago Galleries and Illinois Artisans Shop: 103,000 visitors Dickson Mounds in Lewistown: 50,000 visitors Lockport Gallery: 14,000 visitors Southern Illinois Art Gallery near Sesser: 18,000 visitors Springfield: 200,000 visitors
- Visitors to the ISM spend an estimated $33 million dollars in Illinois each year. Nationally, visitors to historic, cultural and museum sites stay 53% longer and spend 36% more money than other tourists. The ISM site in Springfield alone contributes an estimated $17 million to the local economy.
- ISM facilities and grant projects add another $8.4 million to the state economy in goods and services. ISM attracts about $2 million in federal grants to Illinois each year.
- The ISM annual budget of $6.29 million is 0.0072% of 2015 FY state budget of $87.4 billion. It is 0.157% of the 2015 FY $4 billion shortfall.
For these reasons, I respectfully request that you recommend against the closure of the Illinois State Museum System facilities. Thank you for your consideration. [Your name]