Almost Forgotten Museum Grant Money Resurrected In State Budget | WGLT

Almost Forgotten Museum Grant Money Resurrected In State Budget

Jun 4, 2018

UPDATED 3 p.m. | Back when the state budget crisis was just kicking off, the Department of Natural Resources announced more than $1 million in grant money for Bloomington-Normal museums and the Miller Park Zoo. That money never came, as Gov. Bruce Rauner and lawmakers refused to compromise on a budget and years of standoff turned into years of cuts.

"Back in 2014 the (Children's Discovery Museum) was awarded a grant through an IDNR program to put toward a new exhibit. And shortly after that award the program was put on hold," Normal City Manager Pam Reece said Monday.

Reece said money for the Children's Discovery Museum (CDM) is now back in the budget, which Rauner signed Monday.

CDM Director Beth Whisman said Monday the museum will replace an aging science exhibit.

"The Imagine Air exhibit has been with the CDM for longer than we have been in our current building. It came with us from our original location in Bloomington. We have been in our current space for 14 years. It has been well loved and used an awful lot and just needs to be replaced," said Whisman.

Whisman said they have contacted a designer for the new exhibit that will teach kids about air pressure in an entertaining way. She said they will wait until the money actually arrives before proceeding fully. Once the check comes, Whisman said it typically takes 18 months to from start to finish to bring a new exhibit online.

She said the museum has been making temporary repairs to the Imagine Air exhibit for years.

Illinois Association of Museums (IAM) President Karen Everingham confirmed Tuesday that the budget does include money for the Public Museum Capital Grants program. The IAM in partnership with Museums in the Park pushed the issue at its last Museum Day in April.

"Seems it paid off," Everingham said via email.

In all, $116,000 will go to the Children's Discovery Museum. More than $700,000 will go to the Miller Park Zoo. And the McLean County Museum of History will receive $226,000.

The Museum of History will renovate restrooms and replace aging lighting with low-power LED lights.

The grant for the zoo was originally for several things including new parking. The city went ahead with part of that project, but a new monkey habitat stalled out and is likely to be revived.

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