Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Illinois State Museum Admission Fee Accepted, Set to Reopen July 2

The Illinois State Museum in Springfield in on track to reopen in early July after a legislative panel Tuesday approved a proposal to allow it to charge an admission fee.

The bipartisan Joint Committee on Administrative Rules voted to allow the Department of Natural Resources to go ahead with the admission fee that Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration said is necessary for the museum to reopen. The panel did not discuss the issue before voting on it.

DNR said it will charge a $5-per-person entrance fee to the museum, which previously was open free to the public. Children under 18, seniors and veterans will continue to get in for free.

The museum was closed to the public at the end of September to save the state money, though the staff was kept on the job. Since then, 30 employees - or about half of the staff - have left voluntarily. Interim director Michael Wiant has said the facility can reopen with its existing staff.

In February, Rauner said the museum could reopen if ways were found to make it less reliant on state funding. That included charging an admission fee for the first time, but also making greater use of private contributions and underwriting. So far, the admission fee is the only component being implemented.

At the time, Rauner said the state spent about $6 million a year on the museum, which drew about 200,000 visitors annually. State officials hope that getting the museum reopened by July 2 will allow it to be open enough hours this year to keep its accreditation.

Information provided by the State-Journal Register

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