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

letter_to_the_editor

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

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