Advocacy Alert: Oct. 21

Show Your Support for the Illinois State Museum; Closure Now Threatens Museum’s Accreditation

Earlier this week, the Accreditation Commission voted to put the Illinois State Museum system on probation. The Commission took this action after Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and the state legislature were unable to pass a state budget, and forced the museum to close to the public on September 30. “The Illinois State Museum system has never been in greater peril and it’s due to political maneuvering and an unfortunate lack of recognition by the state’s leadership of the museum system’s tremendous impact,” said Laura L. Lott, president & CEO of the American Alliance of Museums. “This 138-year-old institution is a major educational resource for more than 40,000 Illinois students each year, a regional economic powerhouse and an internationally recognized research facility.”

“The museum’s accreditation in 1972—and its four subsequent re-accreditations—bear witness to the fact that the Illinois State Museum is one of the most highly regarded and professionally operated museums in the world,” said Lott. “We stand in solidarity with the museum’s professional staff, including those in the leadership who were summarily dismissed without health benefits. These staff members are not only valued AAM members, but they are true community leaders and experts in their respective fields. Their departure from the museum is a significant loss for the state of Illinois and for the museum field.”

Accreditation is the museum field’s highest mark of distinction, and indicates that a museum is operating at the highest professional level, admirably caring for collections and having a significant and measurable impact on the community. The closure of the museum—now in its fourth week—has far-reaching consequences. Not only is the museum’s accreditation now at risk, but the state is vulnerable to lawsuits and risks defaulting on contracts and loans which could affect the museum’s ability to secure future support.

“Given the state budget stalemate and closure of the museum, the Accreditation Commission had no choice but to take this serious action because the accreditation guidelines are very clear: Museums must remain open to the public, must maintain a professional staff and must comply with all federal, state and local laws to maintain their accreditation,” said Lott.

“I call on Governor Rauner and the Illinois state legislature to put aside their differences, recognize the $31 million generated in economic activity by ISM visitors and the inestimable contribution to citizens’ lives and immediately re-open the Illinois State Museum system,” said Lott.

Learn more about the decision by the Accreditation Commission to place the museum system on probation; read a June 12 coalition letter to Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner expressing concern at the proposed closure of the Illinois State Museum System; read Laura L. Lott’s testimony to the Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability urging immediate action to keep the Illinois State Museum system open; and contact Governor Rauner to express your views on the status of the Illinois State Museum system.

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