A night at the museum could be filled with construction noise for 36 public museums in Illinois.
Governor JB Pritzker recently announced $19.7 million in grants for projects at public museums throughout the Land of Lincoln.
Part of the Illinois Public Museums Capital Grant Program, the funds are administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
Jeanne Angel, president of the Illinois Association of Museums, explains that one of the objectives of these grants is to create jobs.
“They are direct job creators in these museums because these are capital construction projects, so vendors are hired, exhibit designers are hired, construction companies are hired, conservators , restaurant owners – so it’s really a wide range,” she told The Center Square.
Each museum will receive up to $750,000 to help them expand and add capacity, according to Angel. Before the pandemic, more than 2.8 million school children visited state museums each year, she said.
“This is a critical and critical time for museums in Illinois to rebuild and regain some of the ground that was lost during the pandemic with all of the shutdown,” Angel said.
Projects will include structural upgrades such as roof replacement, restoration and HVAC systems for forward-facing projects such as new exhibits and digital experiences, according to Angel.
“Museums are an important economic driver and a point of pride in Illinois communities,” Colleen Callahan, director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, said in a statement. “Providing funds for capital improvements and exciting new exhibits helps create jobs, attract more visitors and boost local tourism.
Angel echoed that point, noting that the financial impact of the grants will go beyond the museum.
“People who visit museums in Illinois and across the country have a ripple effect and benefit restaurants, businesses and hotels in surrounding communities,” she said.
More than 22 million people visit Illinois museums each year, making them a great investment for the state, Angel observed.
“State museums have a financial impact of $2.6 billion for the state; they support over 38,000 jobs and provide $1.8 billion in revenue to Illinois,” she said.
These grants will help Illinois be a destination with world-class institutions, according to Angel.