Rauner: Don’t Close the Illinois State Museums -- seriously.
Hey, so, taking a break from my vacation because this can’t wait:
In order to save the state some money, Governor Bruce Rauner of Illinois has proposed to axe the Illinois State Museums; 6 institutions which represent the natural history, art, and culture of our state. This would permanently close the exhibits and neglect more than the 13.5 million accessioned objects in collections.
For one, this is not at all a wise financial move: out of the $4 billion shortfall, the $6.29 million operating budget of the museum systems accounts for about 0.15% of the total budget - and the negative implications would far exceed that drop in the budget, reflected in significant declines in tourism, education, and access to research and collections.
Closing a natural history museum (or any collections-based institution) is not as simple as shutting the door and walking away. Our state has far-reaching legal and moral obligations to maintain and use those objects and specimens entrusted to us in perpetuity. Rauner clearly does not understand the severe consequences in his want to shave a little off the top – it’ll come at the cost of the history and physical knowledge of this state. The research conducted from the ISM systems impacts communities all around the U.S.. We ought to remember the borders of our state are political, not geological. If the closure goes ahead and we shutter our public museums, it could set a precedent for how local legislatures regard other state museums – and that would be catastrophic.
Here’s what you can do to help:
- If you’re in Illinois or around Springfield, attend the public hearing next Monday, July 13th, and stand in opposition of the closures.
- Submit public comments to the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability. You ought to do this before the July 13th hearing, but submissions are valid until July 23rd.
- A SUGGESTED FORMAT (you can adapt as needed) for your email
(or letter to mail):
The Honorable Bruce Rauner, Governor
State of Illinois
207 State House
Springfield, Illinois 62706
Dear Governor Rauner,
As a [SCIENTIST, EDUCATOR, STUDENT, MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC], I am deeply concerned about the proposed closure of the Illinois State Museum System. The ISM System is an internationally recognized museum with a strong reputation for scientific excellence (active federal research grants, globally recognized staff) and reliable curation of scientific, cultural and historical objects (13.5 million accessioned objects) of state, national and global importance.
The ISM System has a demonstrated track record of public outreach and education (in 2014, over 40,000 schoolchildren visited the ISM and 2300 teachers were helped), including STEM education, for the citizens of Illinois. Surely the people of Illinois should not be cut off from so valuable an institution formed for the common good, the preservation of their heritage, and the education of their children for future success in a modern society. Please consider the societal services provided by this modern, significant, and high visibility museum system, and save the ISM for the people of Illinois.
- Sign the petition and join more than 8,900 people who support the continued operation of these museums.
Please help me spread the word. This is a time when natural history collections need everyone’s help and public support, regardless if you live in our state. I would really appreciate it.