Lockport’s State Museum re-opens

Brock A. Stein | 9/30/2016, 9:56 a.m.
The Lockport branch of the Illinois State Museum has re-opened thanks to some perseverance by the mayor and the work ...
When the state removed all of the artwork from the Illinois State Museum’s Lockport Gallery because of the ongoing state budget impasse, Mayor Steve Streit asked residents to donate items for display.

The Lockport branch of the Illinois State Museum has reopened after being closed for almost a year.

The re-opening follows the announcement last week that the state and the city of Lockport had reached an agreement to throw open the doors to the public once again.

The Lockport Gallery—which is part of a series of 5 state museum campuses—was initially closed in October last year, a victim of state budget cuts.

The museum experienced its first brush with the state budget impasse last summer when the works inside the building were ordered to be returned to their owners in July. Lockport Mayor Steve Streit and other officials stepped forward to pay the building’s insurance and then scrambled to fill the museum with artwork from area residents in what was called the “People’s Show.”

Under the terms of the new agreement with the state, the City of Lockport will pay half of the building’s $24,000 rent with the remaining $12,000 being covered by a charitable foundation founded by an Illinois State Museum board member.

Salaries for employees and utility costs will continue to be paid by the state.

Rosemary Winters a Main Street Lockport and State Museum Board member helped organize the special account for the “Arts Legacy Fund” which will help finance half of the museum building’s rent. Any extra money above and beyond the rent will help defray costs for things like transportation, she said, for bringing school kids to visit the newly re-opened campus.

“Kids love to come to the museum,” said Winters.

Lockport Mayor Steven Streit said that the re-opening was a “good collaboration between Springfield, Lockport and private donations.”

Streit said that the city was in talks with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to find a solution that would work for the better part of the year.

Despite the inconvenience of the campus being closed for close to a year, the re-opening will offer something new with weekend hours now available on Saturdays.

Streit said that as the city continues to redevelop its downtown with the museum serving as an asset that can help draw attention and visitors.

“Having a regional draw like a state museum is important to us,” said Streit who also noted that with the Chicago state museum campus closed it also serves as the closest option for many residents.

“It’s the easiest way for people in northern Illinois to access the state museum’s collection.”

The museum will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday and for the first time will have weekend hours on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Picture: The State Museum Lockport Gallery re-opened last week with regular weekday hours and for the first time, Saturday hours as well. (by Brock A. Stein)