Illinois State Museum

Host Bernard Schoenburg (The State Journal-Register) and guests Brian Mackey (Illinois Public Radio) and Bruce Rushton (Illinois Times) discuss the consequences of the ongoing budget impasse and shutdown of state government.

Lisa Ryan

As Illinois enters a second quarter without a budget in place, Gov. Bruce Rauner put the blame on legislators.  He made the remark Friday after a manufacturing event in Effingham.

Rauner, a Republican, says his administration will keep essential services going as the impasse continues, and warned that it could last awhile longer.

Illinois government continues limping through its partial shutdown.  This week, the Illinois State Museum was shuttered, the secretary of state announced he won’t be reminding you when to renew your license plates, and at least one state facility has had the water shut off.  Could a revolt among rank-and-file legislators break the stalemate?  Brian Mackey talks about that and more with Amanda Vinicky, Jamey Dunn of Illinois Issues, and Natasha Korecki of the Politico Illinois Playbook.

Lisa Ryan/WUIS

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is set to close state museums and a sport-shooting complex to the public because of the budget crisis, even though most staff will still report to work. 

State Museum Workers Get Reprieve, At Least For Now

Sep 22, 2015

Unionized workers in several state agencies were set to lose their jobs in a week.  But they'll keep them, at least for awhile longer.

Illinois State Musem

It's been a contentious topic whether or not to close the Illinois State Museum. The governor has called for closing all the facilities in the state's museum system as a way to save money for a state budget that's very much in the red.

Meanwhile, many say that plan is short-sighted. The museum houses a variety of objects and artifacts that tell the story of our state. It also contains an expanse of fine art that has been donated over the years.

Lisa Ryan

If you've been meaning to visit the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, the Dickson Mounds archeological site, or museum shops in Lockport and Chicago, you have one month left to do it.

Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

State employees have begun receiving pink slips, as a budget impasse looms -- a total of 171 workers will lose their jobs. Workers have gotten notice that they'll be out of work by the end of September.

Lisa Ryan/WUIS

A bipartisan legislative commission has rejected Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposal to close two state facilities.  

On a pair of 7-2 votes, the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability issued non-binding decisions against shuttering the Illinois State Museum and the Department of Corrections' Hardin County Work Camp in southern Illinois.

Lisa Ryan/WUIS

A panel of lawmakers will weigh in Wednesday on the planned closure of two state facilities.  But the final decision rests with the governor.

A state lawmaker who represents a large number of government workers says he remains against efforts to bring in an outsider to help negotiate a new union contract.  

Republican house member Tim Butler of Springfield says the matter should be decided in talks between the Rauner Administration and the union known as AFSCME.  He voted this spring against allowing an independent arbitrator to get involved:

Illinois State Museum in Springfield
Lisa Ryan / WUIS - Illinois Issues

Supporters of the Illinois State Museum told state legislators Monday a slew of reasons why it should remain open, but it doesn't appear like anyone who will make the decision on its future was there to hear much of it.

Illinois State Museum in Springfield
Lisa Ryan / WUIS - Illinois Issues

Almost 7,000 people on Facebook have "liked" a page titled 'Save the Illinois State Museum.' Supporters have planned a rally for July 21st. 

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."


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,_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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.