Free Museum Days Will Stay At 52 Per Year

Oct 24, 2013

A group of Illinois museums has failed in a bid to to reduce the number of free days they have to offer every year.

The law currently requires 52 free days. They wanted to cut that in half, to 26, but Illinois lawmakers rejected that proposal.

State Representative Mary Flowers, D-Chicago, says free days are the only way a lot of families get to see expensive museums.

Credit compujeramey / flickr

"Already, with the 52 days, there are long lines. But when you get 26 days, there will be even longer lines, and fewer people will (be) able to enjoy the fruits of their endeavors," Flowers said.

The legislation would have applied to any museum or aquarium on park district property -- that includes major Chicago institutions such as the Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum -- plus smaller museums around the state.

Although the measure had passed with a bipartisan majority earlier this year, Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed it, and too few lawmakers voted to overrule him. The museum proposal is one of the few actual vetoes lawmakers had to deal with during their veto session.

Quinn said he couldn't support limiting access to lower-income families.

During a House debate on whether to override the governor, Rep. Monique Davis, a Chicago Democrat, made a similar point.

"This is showing concern for people who don't have a big fat income who can take off of work whenever they want to," she said.

The museums say the free days cost them a significant amount of admission receipts.