Last week THS’s Archive Director Kathy McLeister traveled to Springfield, Ill. to participate in Illinois Association of Museum’s 13th annual [Illinois] Museum Day on Tues, March 8th. The purpose of the event is to impress upon legislators the importance of museums and they role they play within their communities, to continue to build a relationship with elected officials as well as help represent the Illinois museum community as a whole.
While in Springfield Kathy met with the staff of museums from around the state, participated in two seminars at the Illinois State Museum, met with legislators one-on-one, and attended a reception at the Governor’s Mansion.
Illinois State Museum and Museums in the Park distributed the following press release:
13th ANNUAL ILLINOIS MUSEUM DAY CELEBRATED IN SPRINGFIELD
Museum advocates attend from across Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – March 15, 2011 – The 13th Annual Illinois Museum Day took place on Tuesday, March 8 in Springfield. A Proclamation from Governor Quinn officially recognized Illinois Museum Day and the importance of museums across the state.
The Proclamation stated that because museums inspire people of all ages, benefit Illinois communities by providing exceptional educational programs, and serve as economic engines for the state and for their communities, the Governor proclaimed March 8, 2011 as Illinois Museum Day. The Governor’s Proclamation also encouraged “all citizens to visit museums in their community and recognize the importance of preserving and enjoying these valuable institutions.”
Sponsored by the Illinois Association of Museums (IAM) and Chicago’s Museums In the Park (MIP), the event attracted advocates from Illinois museums, zoos, heritage centers, historical societies, and arts organizations.
Museum advocates talked to legislators about the educational and economic impact of museums and about the specific legislative issues currently facing Illinois museums.
Primary issues facing the Illinois museum community include maintaining funding for the Illinois Public Museum Grant Program and the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA), and increasing funding for the Illinois Arts Council (IAC) and state tourism grants.
Museum Day attendees expressed support for the Illinois Public Museum Capital Grants Program and the Governor’s FY2012 budget proposal, which maintains funding for the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and will allow many of the state’s historic sites to remain open.
Other agencies are also in critical need of funding. The Illinois Arts Council, an organization that provides grant funding to hundreds of Illinois museums and arts organizations, has been cut by over $12 million since 2007. To maintain a healthy arts sector and enhance the quality of life for all residents, the museum community urged the Illinois General Assembly to increase support for the Illinois Arts Council to $26 million (approximately $2 per person per year) in FY2012.
Museums are a major reason tourists visit Illinois. Millions of visitors come each year to explore Illinois’ museums, historic sites, science centers, zoos, and arboreta. In fact, visitors to cultural
attractions and museums stay 53% longer and spend 36% more money than other kinds of tourists (U.S. Travel Association). Yet the Illinois Tourism Bureau budget has been cut in recent years. Museum advocates urge members of the Illinois General Assembly to provide financial support to local offices of tourism, and restore marketing and promotion grants to Illinois attractions.