Press Room -- Illinois State Museum, Springfield
Illinois State Museum Recognized for Leadership in Making the Case for
Museums in Washington and Beyond
SPRINGFIELD ─ Illinois State Museum Director Dr. Bonnie Styles and former Associate Director Karen Witter were honored at the 2013 Museums Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. on February 25. They received 2013 Star Advocate awards in recognition of their last five years of service as citizen-advocates at this event, organized by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM).
Bonnie Styles and Karen Witter have been a part of the concerted advocacy efforts for museums on Capitol Hill since the inception of Museums Advocacy Day in 2009. Over that time they have met with many members of the Illinois Congressional delegation and their staff. Ford W. Bell, AAM President, presented Styles and Witter their awards at a reception at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
Museums Advocacy Day brings museum professionals from across the country to Washington to make the case for America’s museums on Capitol Hill and the critical role that museums play in our communities. These citizen-advocates represent the breadth and scope of the museum field, coming from all types and sizes of museums. This year 45 states were represented.
“Bonnie Styles and Karen Witter have been at the vanguard of our Museums Advocacy Day efforts from the beginning,” said Ford W. Bell. “The museum field needs leaders such as them now more than ever. We must make Congress aware that museums bring tremendous value to communities everywhere. Certainly the Illinois State Museum is a community anchor in Springfield, and its branch facilities serve communities in Chicago, Lockport, Lewistown, and Whittington.”
Styles and Witter play leadership roles with state, regional, and national museum organizations. Bonnie Styles is the President of the Association of Science Museum Directors, which was a co-convener of Museums Advocacy Day, serves on the AAM Accreditation Commission, and recently completed three years as Commission Chair. Witter has served as the Illinois State Museum's representative on the board of the Illinois Association of Museums for many years and chairs the Association of Midwest Museums Advocacy Committee.
Museums are vital resources in communities, contributing to the economy, quality of life, and educational infrastructure. National statistics presented to Congress during Museums Advocacy Day included:
- Museums invest more than $2 billion in education programs annually, serving Americans of all ages.
- Museums welcome more than 90 million visits by schoolchildren each year.
- Museums welcome more than 850 million visitors each year, more than all major league sporting events combined.
- A study cited by the U.S. Conference of Mayors found that, for every $1 municipalities invest in arts and culture organizations, including museums, $7 are returned to city coffers.
- Museums are a major part of the $192 billion cultural tourism industry in the United States.
A recent survey conducted by the Illinois Association of Museums documented that Illinois museums serve over 20,350,000 visitors annually, spend over $548,000,000 on goods and services, employ 6,500 Illinoisans, and serve over 2,610,000 school children each year. The Illinois State Museum has six facilities across the state, is an economic engine and rich educational resource for its communities, and is among the 5% of museums accredited by the AAM. The State Museum serves over 500,000 individuals on and off-site and over 1.9 million virtual visitors each year. The Illinois State Museum inspires people of all ages to discover and care about Illinois' natural and cultural resources and heritage.