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Illinois State Museum

The Illinois State Museum is the official museum of the natural history of the U.S. state of Illinois. The headquarters museum is located on Spring and Edwards Streets, one block southwest of the Illinois State Capitol, in Springfield, the state capital. There are satellite museums in Chicago, Dickson Mounds, Lockport, and Rend Lake.

Illinois State Museum
Location502 South Spring Street
Springfield, IL 62706 (United States)
Coordinates39°47′48″N 89°39′19″W / 39.7967°N 89.6554°W / 39.7967; -89.6554
TypeArt museum, history museum, natural history/anthropology museum [1]
DirectorMichael Wiant[2]

In addition to natural history exhibits, the main museum in Springfield focuses on the state's cultural and artistic heritage. Exhibits include local fossils and mining, household displays from different historic periods, dioramas of Native American life, archaeological and ethnographic artifacts, and a collection of glass paperweights.

Due to Illinois budgetary challenges, the Illinois State Museum was temporarily closed in October 2015—June 2016.[3][4][5] After adopting an admission fee, the flagship museum reopened on July 2, 2016. The fee is waived for children and veterans. Satellite museums, with the exception of Dickson Mounds, did not reopen. [6]


Dickson MoundsEdit

The Dickson Mounds Museum, located in Lewistown, is an archaeological museum of Illinois's Native American history. Exhibits include hands-on displays, dioramas, photos and artifacts that depict area cultures from the Ice-Age to the 19th century. The museum grounds comprise 230 acres (0.93 km2) including the Eveland Village, the excavated remains of three early Native American buildings.

Lockport GalleryEdit

The Lockport Gallery, located in Lockport, features changing exhibitions of past and contemporary Illinois artists and artisans. The gallery is located in the 1850 Norton Building, which was originally used to house grain, a supply store, and a dormitory for canal crews. The building functioned as a grain-processing facility until the 1950s. The gallery was temporarily closed in October 2015.

Southern Illinois Art & Artisans CenterEdit

The main gallery of the Southern Illinois Art & Artisans Center is the Southern Illinois Art Gallery, which features changing exhibits of contemporary and history Illinois artists, as well as fine art, decorative art and ethnographic art from the collections of the Illinois State Museum. The center also features the Southern Illinois Artisans Shop, which sells fine crafts from Illinois artisans and offers artisan workshops, demonstrations, and special arts and crafts events. The center is located in Whittington, near Rend Lake. The center was temporarily closed in October 2015.

ISM Chicago GalleryEdit

The ISM Chicago Gallery, located in the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago, featured changing exhibits of fine and decorative arts. The gallery was closed in October 2015.


The Illinois State Museum was founded in 1877 as a showcase within the sixth Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, which was completed at that time. Amos Henry Worthen was first curator. As the state's government grew, the museum collection was evicted from the Capitol and moved to the then-new Michael Howlett building, part of the Illinois Capitol Complex, in 1923.

With continued growth in Illinois's natural history collections, and the need to have a dedicated location in Springfield for tourists and school groups, the state constructed its first purpose-built state museum in 1961-63. This building is the current Illinois State Museum.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the Illinois State Museum expanded to also open four satellite museums. The Dickson Mounds Museum, near Lewistown, Illinois, specializes in the anthropology of the Native Americans of the Illinois River valley, while the museums in Chicago, Lockport, and Rend Lake largely contain rotating exhibitions of Illinois-based fine arts and crafts.


Illinois Governor Jim Edgar, by executive order in 1995, made the State Museum part of the new Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR).

The Illinois State Museum is, as of July 2006, a division of IDNR and consists of five museum facilities, in Chicago, Dickson Mounds, Lockport, Rend Lake, and Springfield. The Museum has its own 11-member governing board, appointed by the Governor of Illinois with the advice and consent of the Illinois State Senate.

Mission statementEdit

The Illinois State Museum is charged by state law with the responsibility "to collect and preserve objects of scientific and artistic value, representing past and present fauna and flora, the life and work of man, geological history, natural resources, and the manufacturing and fine arts; to interpret for and educate the public concerning the foregoing."[7]


  1. ^ Illinois State Museum: About, ARTINFO, 2008, retrieved 2008-07-28
  2. ^ "Staff Information--Illinois State Museum". Retrieved 30 May 2016.
  3. ^ Chicago Tribune (25 June 2015). "Illinois State Museum system faces closing in state budget showdown - Chicago Tribune". Retrieved 30 May 2016.
  4. ^ Chicago Tribune (5 August 2015). "Non-binding vote says no to closing Illinois state museum". Daily Southtown. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
  5. ^ Doug Finke; State Capitol Bureau. "Overflow crowd protests Illinois State Museum closure". The State Journal. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
  6. ^ Illinois Department of Natural Resources (15 June 2016). "Welcome to the Illinois State Museum". Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  7. ^ 20 ILCS 801/1-25(19), state law accessed May 1, 2008

External linksEdit