Illinois State Museum

Lisa Ryan/WUIS

Almost 7,000 people on Facebook have "liked" a page titled 'Save the Illinois State Museum.' Supporters have planned a rally for July 21st.  On the 13th – concerned members of the public will meet at the capitol in Springfield and urge legislators and the Governor to keep the Illinois State Museum open. Governor Bruce Rauner has proposed closing the state’s main museum – as well as other museum facilities in several other cities, including Dickson Mounds.

Lisa Ryan

Illinois lawmakers have a couple of weeks left to reach a resolution on the state budget. If they don't get it done by the end of June, the comptroller has warned that she'll no longer have authority to pay the state's bills.

Courtesy of Illinois State Museum

Archaeological investigations have revealed that ancient peoples in North America employed astronomical observations in order to determine the onset of various seasons as well as to understand the length of the year. Such information helped guide religious, social, and economic activities.

Lisa Ryan/WUIS

Illinois leaders have another month to settle on a new budget plan, but given their failure to reach a deal by Sunday's initial deadline, Gov. Bruce Rauner says he must take immediate steps to manage state spending.

Lisa Ryan/WUIS

The Illinois State Museum, located next to the statehouse in Springfield, is being renamed for the late U.S. Sen. Alan Dixon.

Dixon passed away last year, but he left behind a legacy of service and the ability to work in a bipartisan manner.

Several Illinois leaders gathered for the dedication ceremony. House Speaker Michael Madigan started as a state representative in 1971, when Dixon was a state senator.

"He was always a joy to be with," Madigan said. "Always a laugh, old story, reminiscing about whatever it may be which concerned a bottle of beer."

ISM

Paul Mickey Science Series: The End of an Era? Early Holocene Caribou Hunting Strategies in the Upper Great Lakes

  • Location: ISM Research & Collections Center, Springfield
  • Date: Wednesday, May 13, 2015, 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Presented by Dr. John M. O’Shea, Curator of Great Lakes Archaeology, Museum of Anthropological Archaeology, University of Michigan

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Neandertal_adam_ve_kad%C4%B1n_modeli,_Almanya.png

The debate over the role of Neandertals in the ancestry of modern people is the longest running controversy in human evolutionary studies and one of the oldest in science.

By the first decade of the current century, analyses of morphology, behavior, neuroanatomy, and genetics strongly supported a model indicating that Neandertals were a separate biological species from modern humans and represented our cousins but not our ancestors. Neandertal genomic data have changed this picture. 

http://www.museum.state.il.us/

A large art show that originally opened in Chicago has made its way to the Illinois State Museum in Springfield. It incorporates text and language into art pieces comprised of various mediums. This is not your typical art exhibit. We spoke with the man who dreamed it up and put it together, Bob Sill:

                  

Ill. State Museum

Near the small town of Gray, Tennessee in the northeast part of that state, some amazing discoveries have taken place.  Most of it in recent years.  Elephants, rhinoceros, red pandas, saber-toothed cats.  Fossils for all have been discovered at the Gray Fossil Site.  They date back around 5 million years.

Illinois State Museum

You might not realize it, but the lowly freshwater mussel can fill in some of the gaps of history.  Researchers are doing just that here in Illinois, seeing how mussel species have developed and in some cases, died off.  This type of research also shows the impact of changes in ecosystems.   

A recent Mississippi River Bridge project at St. Louis has given the opportunity to take a look back in time.  Excavations took place near I-70 and the Stan Musial Memorial Bridge.

The research uncovered  information about a prehistoric civilization at the site.  But Dr. Claire Dappert, Historic Archaeologist at the Illinois State Archaeological Survey of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois, says a lesser publicized part of the project involves residential neighborhoods that existed about 100 years ago around the St. Louis National Stockyards.

wikipedia/nyttend

An ancient site in present day Calhoun County is the source of intrigue among archaeologists.  Despite it's age and long known existence, little is known about the Golden Eagle site, near where the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers meet.   It features mounds with an earthen enclosure.  Some believe it was a trading center. But questions are plenty.

Jason King is Director of Research for the Center for American Archaeology in Kampsville. 

He's researching the site and will speak about that work at the Illinois State Museum's next Science Series lecture Wednesday night. 

Courtesy of Illinois State Museum

First Friday is an event hosted by the Illinois State Museum in Springfield. It's from 5 to 8 pm (10/3) and will focus on local food, beer, entertainment, arts & crafts. The event is an attempt of the museum to draw in a crowd it might usually miss - young professionals. Families and children are also invited, and it's free to get in. Jennifer Snopko is with the museum and joined us for this interview about it:

CLICK HERE for more info about events at the museum.

http://mortonvillage.anthropology.msu.edu

The next Illinois State Museum Science Series lecture is this Wednesday night, Sept. 10. 

Dr. Jodie O'Gorman has been researching a 700 year old site in Fulton County called Morton Village.

It's where two groups met, lived and apparently fought.  While the site is a tranquil setting these days, evidence points to high rate of violent deaths.   Understanding how a migrant group called Oneota and local Mississippians got along, and sometimes didn't, is the focus of the work.

http://www.museum.state.il.us/

In this interview, we speak with Jim Zimmer, the director of art and history for the Illinois State Museum System. He tells us about the curation that goes on behind the scenes, the variety of artwork that can be found at the museum, and current as well as upcoming exhibitions.

Currently at the Springfield museum is an exhibit titled Fragile Relations: Art, Nature & Environment. It ends this weekend.  

wolfsonian.org

State parks and historic sites now have to set up an "American Made" section in their gift shops.  

Governor Pat Quinn signed  into law this week a measure that is supposed to increase the number of American and Illinois-made goods state facilities sell.    Illinois has, in recent years, put special emphasis on promoting domestic products, especially those from in-state.

Lindenwood University

Archaeological research has turned up some interesting finds in St. Charles, Missouri. 

Old living floors for two buildings have been identified and one of the buildings is believed to be associated with the town's founder, Louis Blanchette. The site dates back to around 1770.

Dr. Steve Dasovich, Director of the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at Lindenwood University, his students and volunteers have been doing the research. 

KincaidMounds.com

Archaeological work at site that straddles Massac and Pope counties in deep southern Illinois has been a decades-long project. albeit on an intermittent basis.   Kincaid Mounds is the location where Native Americans that were part of the  Mississippian culture lived and worked starting around 1000 years ago. 

Dr. Brian Butler, Past Director of the Center for Archaeological Investigations and Emeritus Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will discuss some of the more recent discoveries this week. 

US Fish and Wildlife Service/public domain

Imagine a caffeinated concoction that, when ingested, resulted in bouts of vomiting.  You might prefer to stick with your gourmet coffee.

But the "Black Drink" as it is known was part of a ritual. The vomiting was done for purity.  It turns out, early societies imbibed.  Even the Cahokia civilization about 1000 years ago.  That's roughly 500 years earlier than records of consumption elsewhere.  Research has found residue in ceremonial cups that confirm the Black Drink was used at Cahokia.

It's hard to believe that in the early 1800's, roughly 40 percent of the birds in North America were passenger pigeons.  Yet, a century later, the species was hunted to extinction.  The last one died in captivity in 1914.

Naturalist Joel Greenberg has written about this cautionary tale.  He will give the Illinois State Museum's Science Series lecture Wednesday in Springfield. His book is titled "A Feathered River Across The Sky: The Passenger Pigeon's Flight To Extinction."

Ill. State Museum

This month's Illinois State Museum Science Lecture Series will focus on early Spanish exploration of what would become the United States.   Dr. Kathryn Sampeck is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Illinois State University.

She has been doing archaeological research in the southeast to get a better idea of those expeditions and how they changed history.    

wikipedia

Rene-Robert Cavelier de La Salle died more than 300 years ago.  But his achievements can still be felt today in Illinois and the midwest.

"He had a vision. He had a big dream.  That was to connect Canada, Quebec and the Atlantic Ocean with the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River," historian Mark Walczynski said.  

Illinois State Museum

Iowa and Illinois have a lot in common, but look below the surface to see some important differences.  That's what paleontologists have been doing for decades.  Their work has resulted in the discovery of fossils that show prehistoric giant camels and mammoths once called Iowa home.  That work and more will be part of a lecture Wednesday night in Springfield. 

Chris Widga, Assistant Curator of Geology at the Illinois State Museum, will deliver a presentation "Recent Adventures in Iowa Paleontology." 

Illinois State Archaeological Survey

This month's Illinois State Museum science lecture will focus on the Secret Lives of Paleoindians.  Dr. Thomas Loebel of the Illinois State Archaeological Society will present his research on these early inhabitants of North America and show that there was more to their societies than simply being nomadic hunters.  

He's completed digs throughout the mid west including Illinois and Wisconsin and says much has been learned...

flickr/emilydickinsonridesabmx

Cahokia Mounds in the metro east area was the site of a large and sophisticated Native American city a thousand years ago.  There's a lot of research being done there and Wednesday night you can hear more about it. 

The Illinois State Museum's Science Series lecture features Bill Iseminger, an assistant Site Manager at Cahokia mounds.  

wikipedia

The legend of the Piasa "bird" goes back to the 1600's, when Marquette and Joliet saw a large painting near the Mississippi River where Alton is now located.  But what has been passed down through the years is different than what the original artwork was meant to convey.

Dr. Duane Esarey has researched the Piasa and he'll dispel the myths Wednesday during the state museum science series lecture.   He spoke with WUIS' Sean Crawford and straightens us out on the subject.  He says it all goes back to the early explorers' description of what they saw:

waymarking.com

Jameson Jenkins was Abraham Lincoln's neighbor.  The site of his former home is located in the Lincoln Neighborhood.   While Jenkins is far less well-known than the future president who lived a few doors away, he is nonetheless an interesting figure in history.  

WUIS' Sean Crawford spoke about research being done with Lincoln Home National Historic Site Superintendent Dale Phillips and Site Historian Tim Townsend on Illinois Edition:

Southern Illinois is home to Civil War artifacts and historical sites that many people don't know about, and archeologists say there's potential for even more exploration and excavation to be done. Mark Wagner heads the Center for Archeological Investigations at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He's speaking tonight at 7pm at the Illinois State Museum about his findings, we recently caught up with him: 

newphiladelphiail.org

A series of public lectures in west central Illinois begins tomorrow night at the Kinderhook Lodge in Barry.  The series will discuss the Underground Railroad, Civil War military service, emancipation and safe havens, like the nearby historic town of New Philadelphia.

In mid-September, a delegation of high-ranking officials from Kenya met with representatives of the Illinois State Museum in a ceremony marked by many speeches and group photographs. Center stage, displayed in a lined box, was the kigango, a decorated wooden post that was part of the museum's collection before officials there learned last spring it originally had been stolen from a Kenyan family.