It’s all a game of politics.
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has set the Illinois State Museum in his sights as he battles the state legislature over a large and contentious deficit in the Illinois budget. His plan would shutter the 138-year-old institution as well as four satellite locations, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The museum is three hours away in Springfield but remains a significant asset to state history and the Midwest at large. Millions of artifacts are housed there, including a plethora of exhibits dedicated to Illinois’ rich Native American heritage. These would all be packed away into boxes should the museum be closed.
Satellite locations include the Dickson Mounds Museum, a Native American burial ground with mounds, graves and structures that date back to pre-1000 CE.
According to Guerry Suggs, board member at the museum and source to the Tribune, the museum saw 387,000 visitors in 2014. Those visitors spent around $33 million, he said. Rauner’s office said $4.8 million could be saved by closing the museum, according to the Tribune. The state faces a deficit that is nearly $4 billion.
Not only would jobs at the museum be lost, but academics, historians and research groups who rely on materials and artifacts at the museum could lose out on crucial grant money to advance their research.
The Save the Illinois State Museum Facebook group has rallied to prevent the museum’s closure and, as of this writing, has more than 10,000 likes on its page.