SIU museum reopens after closing due to state budget impasse

CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) — The University Museum at Southern Illinois University Carbondale has reopened after it had to close last year due to the state budget impasse.

The museum’s closing prompted an outcry from the university community and former student workers, The Southern Illinoisan reported.

Curator of collections Susannah Munson, who maintained the museum’s collection throughout the closure, said it was a difficult time.

“It was hard, and a little depressing, having to undo everything and put everything away,” Munson said.

But in his State of the University address, Chancellor Carlo Montemagno said he would reopen the museum, which features 70,000 artifacts including paintings, sculpture and geology and ethnography collections.

The museum was previously part of the College of Liberal Arts. It’s now under the Library Affairs. Director of Special Collections Pam Hackbart-Dean, is overseeing the museum until a director is hired.

Last year, the museum also was stripped of its accreditation status through the American Alliance of Museums as a result of cuts stemming from the state budget impasse.

“Unfortunately, we have to start at the beginning of the whole process, but because we’ve been accredited and have gone through the accreditation process a number of times, we have a lot of resources, we know what needs to be done,” Munson said.

Munson said it will take two to three years before the museum can begin the accreditation process, and getting accredited again could take a couple years.

A reopening reception for the museum is scheduled for March 8.

Higher education was among the areas hardest hit by the more than two-year stalemate between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democratic-controlled Legislature.