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Illinois State Museum Could Re-Open

Illinois State Museum
state of Illinois

A month and a half after the Illinois State Museum shut its doors to visitors, lawmakers have passed a measure that could lead to its re-opening.

Advocates have mourned the loss of the Springfield-based museum, which also hosts researchers and preserves millions of artifacts.

Despite the closure, most of the museum's staff have so far held onto their jobs. Their union is fighting with Governor Bruce Rauner's administration in court.

But State Museum Board Chairman Guerry Suggs says other employees have quit, taken new jobs, or retired. 

"It's been very devastating to the museum to be closed, for as long as we are closed. And the longer we're closed the more devastating it will be. Because I know of union employees who are looking for other jobs because they're concerned that their future at the museum is not going to be secure,” Suggs said.

Suggs says the law would be helpful, because it would provide assurance. He says the museum could open again right away if it were allowed.

Rauner's office says whether he'll sign or veto the legislation, which includes no funding source, is under review. 

The Republican has said he "loves" the state museum but was forced to close it as he tries to manage state spending.

The Dickson Mounds archaeological site, a museum site in Lockport that the community says is an economic engine, smaller branches in Chicago's Thompson Center and in Rend Lake would also return should the measure become law.

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
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