Museum Day in Springfield

Museum Day ButtonMuseum Community Celebrates the 20th Anniversary of
Illinois Museum Day

On May 1st museums across the state gathered for a rally in the Rotunda to share the great work of museums with our legislators. President and Mrs. Lincoln were on hand and attendees were wearing their "I Support Illinois Museums!" buttons and t-shirts. IAM and MIP leaders were able to meet General Assembly leaders to make the case for our museums and many attendees had appointments with their legislators. 

See you next year! 

 Enter your economic and educational impact data!


June, 2019

The Illinois General Assembly has appropriated $50 million for new capital improvements at “Public Museums” in the budget (HB62). In addition, the General Assembly re-appropriated $25,091,806 (SB262) for capital improvements at “Public Museums” from the 2009 Capital bill. In addition, the General Assembly allowed prior incurred expenditures to be reimbursed (SB262). The grants will be awarded by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources under existing administrative rules.

The last week had several key moments including our press conference for new capital and negotiations with both the House Speaker and the Senate President. We now must get our timeline set for how IDNR will proceed.
Museums should reach out and thank the Governor, Legislative Leaders and local legislators.

To:      Members of the General Assembly

From:  Deborah Lahey, President, Museums In the Park

            Karen Everingham, President, Illinois Association of Museums

Date:   March 22, 2019

Re:      Public Museums New and Suspended Capital Grants

The Illinois Association of Museums (IAM) and Museums In the Park (MIP) represent the Illinois Public Museum Community of over 1,200 institutions.

In 2009, the General Assembly passed a major Capital Program that included $50 million for Public Museums. This was the first museum capital program since 1999. The money was to be allocated under existing law and rules by the Department of Natural Resources. The rules required various amounts of private match, thus growing the Capital Program to nearly $100 million. Over 60 museums statewide benefited from the program.

Unfortunately, in March 2015, the Rauner Administration suspended the final payments of the 2009 program that were awarded to 47 Public Museums statewide. The suspension of already awarded grants has caused great hardship, as many projects were actively underway.

In this year’s budget (Public Act 100-0586) the General Assembly re-appropriated these suspended grants and re-appropriated certain member initiatives that were previously made to various Public Museums. But after the budget was passed, the Rauner Administration determined that it could not reimburse grantees under the suspended programs for their reasonable actions to protect or finish projects after the suspension.

In response to this, Senator Koehler has introduced SB 1814 to allow for reimbursement of cost incurred prior to July 1, 2018. Please support this bill, and please continue to re-appropriate these grants until they are completed.

As you now consider a new Capital Program, we ask that you include funding for Public Museums. From crumbling century-old historic facades to overburdened HVAC systems, our Public Museums have critical infrastructure needs. These unique institutions must make capital improvements to their aging facilities to continue to operate at world-class standards, and to guarantee life safety for staff and guests.

Capital grant funding for our Public Museums will help secure the future of the Illinois Museum Community. Remember that the rules in place already require various amounts of private match, thus expanding the overall impact.

Please support Public Museums with funding through the Capital Grants program.


Illinois Museum Day


Illinois is better with museums.

Advocating for museums is critical to a thriving museum community.  But, before you say “I’m too small to matter” or “they have too many other concerns to make time for us”- consider some direct benefits to being an ACTIVE museum advocate:

  • You make the case for your impact on the community. 
    Your institution has a direct impact on the constituents of your elected officials- they will care about you!
      Get their attention with quick bullet points of number of the teachers and students served, how many staff, members and volunteers you have, any capital projects that hired outside help, any special projects that served a community need (literacy, food, clothing, etc.) or just a list of your recent accomplishments will work.  How do you impact your community?  See IAM’s Economic Impact Statement for more ideas.
  • You increase your network for public and private funding. 
    Your institution fosters cultural awareness in your community and THAT HAS VALUE!  By sharing your message, you can expand your network of stakeholders in the community and strengthen the base of support.  Are your elected officials members of your museum?  Why not?  
  • You can influence legislation that impacts museums. 
    A strong, united voice in the museum community with museums big and small represented can make a difference. 

The # 1 Advocacy pitfall: Waiting until you have a serious problem before meeting with your representatives or elected officials. 

Extending your hand for help during crisis mode is NOT the best time to ask elected officials for support.  If a crisis does occur, it would be far better to have built a relationship and informed them of your impact on the community.  That way, you have a supporter who understands what effect your museum has on their constituents.  Making your case to dodge the iceberg is easier if the boat is not already sinking…

WHAT TO DO TODAY:  Call up the local office and invite them to your next event.  If you can, acknowledge them publicly at the event or take pictures to post on social media to thank them for coming.  Don’t forget your local officials too!