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Stevenson

Gov. Adlai Stevenson of Illinois greets young boys, both nine, Henry Koznbowski and Richard Wenzielewski, as he arrives at Meigs Field, Chicago for the Democratic National Convention, July 18, 1952.

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Bruce Rauner's decision to close the Illinois State Museum isn't the only piece of history affected by the state's lingering budget mess.

More than a year after state officials confirmed plans for an exhibit highlighting former Gov. Adlai Stevenson II's life, a spokesman for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum now says that display is in limbo.

"The plan to open an exhibit in the presidential library is on hold for the moment, both because of the lack of a state budget and because of the lack of clarity over the (museum's) future relationship with the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency," Wills said in an email.

Last year, museum officials said they were planning a new exhibit focusing on one of Illinois's political dynasties.

It was hoped the display — based on papers and memorabilia donated by former U.S. Sen. Adlai Stevenson III — would coincide with the 50th anniversary of Stevenson's death in July 1965.

But, Rauner and Democrats who control the General Assembly are still fighting over the state budget more than three months into the state's fiscal year. Among the casualties was the state museum, which Rauner shuttered last week. Numerous social service agencies have closed, mental health treatment is being curtailed and top state officials are worrying about electricity to state buildings being cut off.

In addition, the governor and Democratic leaders can't agree on a plan to split the museum away from the historic preservation agency.

Legislation separating the museum from the agency moved through the House and Senate last spring, but Rauner opposed elements of the measure and it failed to advance to his desk.

By contrast, House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, has opposed some of the changes Rauner had sought in a related measure.

Stevenson II was born in California in 1900, but grew up in Bloomington and later worked at his family newspaper, The Pantagraph, as a reporter and editor.

He served one term as governor, from 1949 to 1953, and ran twice for president in 1952 and 1956. He was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from 1961 until his death on July 14, 1965 while in London.

Stevenson III also had an extensive political career, including serving in the U.S. Senate from 1970 to 1981. The first Adlai Stevenson served as vice president of the United States.

Wills said the museum has taken possession of the materials and is in the process of cataloging them.

"We are nearly finished with taking inventory of all the pieces in this large collection, and it is open to researchers who request access," Wills said.

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kurt.erickson@lee.net / 217-782-4043 / On Twitter @Illinois_Stage

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