Skip to main content

History | ISM-Research & Collections Center

Founded on May 25, 1877, the Illinois State Museum is a dynamic institution that has long played a leadership role in the museum community.  The Museum and its staff played important roles in the founding of the American Association of Museums (now the American Alliance of Museums), the Illinois State Academy of Science, and the Illinois Academy of Fine Arts.  The Museum also pioneered the use of natural history habitats in the early 1900s, established a permanent art gallery in a museum in 1928—the first of its kind in the nation, and launched the trail-blazing Museumobile in 1948.  The Museum’s traditions of excellence, innovation, and leadership continue today.

To deal with the ever-growing number of specimens and artifacts in the Museum’s collection, it acquired a facility in Springfield and initiated renovations to establish its state-of-the-art ISM-Research & Collections Center (ISM-RCC). The ISM-RCC opened in 1988. The facility was originally  home to the Montgomery Ward Company beginning in 1920. Montgomery Ward sold the location to the American Radiator Company in 1944 who then sold it to the Allis Chalmers in 1944 to make tractors and road graders.  The State of Illinois bought the building from Chalmers for $10 in 1970 to house the Department of Revenue until 1984.  The Illinois State Museum acquired the building and with a major grant rennovated the interior to properly house the ISM's growing collection. The building was dedicated in a public ceremony in 1994.

Today, the ISM-RCC houses the majority of the ISM's 13.5 million object  collection in the 97,000 square feet structure. The facility is open by appointment only or for special events and tours.