This museum has a number of locations in the Illinois area but the main branch of the museum is in Springfield. Visitors can view natural history exhibits, participate in educational programs, enjoy films, and special events, and best of all, it is all free! Bus groups are welcome and there is bus parking available at the visitor center. Groups are required to arrive on time, check in at the reception desk, and include chaperones in the appropriate ratio. Guests are reminded that backpacks and food items are not allowed in the museum area. Photographs are permitted everywhere except the Art Gallery.
The museum is home to the Illinois Artisans Program which puts nationwide attention on crafts and art in Illinois. This is an opportunity for artists to market their handiwork in area Artisan shops located around the Chicago metropolitan area. The program is always searching for new artists. There are annual deadlines for entering the program, so be sure to check the website or consult one of the members of the Illinois State Museum (ISM) staff. Categories include arts and crafts, traditional, ethnic, contemporary, and fine arts. Juried artists are required to work and live in the state of Illinois.
Exhibits change throughout the year, but there are a variety of programs and displays you can count on. There is a Brown Bag Lecture Series, Super Saturdays, Cultural Diversity Celebrations, and Free Family Events. These free events typically celebrate heritage and traditions of world cultures through crafts, performances, and other forms of art. The Paul Mickey Science Series is another lecture series that addresses science in different parts of the world.
There are plenty of opportunities for visitors of the museum to enjoy the space in unique ways. The Junior Collector's Day is a unique event that focuses on kids and teens. Rocks and minerals, fossils, coins, dolls, and various other collections may be featured in displays. There is an overnight camp in series that gives kids a chance to truly spend "A Night at the Museum.'' Art@Play is a summer event that is fun for the entire family. The event is free and attracts art lovers from all over the area. Learn how toys can also be art. Kids are encouraged to work with their parents to make their own toys at home after the show.
The town of Springfield is filled with culture, great dining opportunities, plenty of shopping, luxury and budget accommodations, outdoor fun, entertainment, and numerous art galleries in addition to ISM. Cuisines range from Asian to Italian to Mexican, or you can visit a quaint coffee shop for a quick bite and cup of joe, or grab a pizza from one of the several joints. Be sure to try the deep dish pie since you are so close to Chicago, birthplace of this culinary delight. Springfield is divided into several neighborhoods and shoppers can choose between shopping malls, retails centers, and unique boutiques and stores. This is a great suburban town, and if you are in the area, you will not regret a trip to the ISM.
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