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State Grant Funds Upgrade to HVAC System at the Dunn Museum

September 15, 2023 04:06 PM

The Bess Bower Dunn Museum in Libertyville received funding assistance to improve museum facilities through the Illinois Public Museum Capital Grants Program. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) administered the program.

The Dunn Museum, operated by the Lake County Forest Preserves, received a $161,100 grant to make needed HVAC system modifications. The project updated its current heating and cooling system to provide more detailed temperature and humidity control throughout the collections space.

The improvement project also involved adding a humidity control system to five permanent floor cases in the Museum's exhibit galleries. These cases are where the Museum’s most sensitive items are on display.

The collections comprise nearly 20,000 artifacts and 1,000 linear feet of archival materials housed in a modern, environmentally controlled care and storage facility. "The storage facility assists us in the preservation of the collections the Dunn Museum holds in the public trust," said Diane Dretske, curator at the Dunn Museum.

“We applied for the grant because staff struggled to maintain stable humidity levels in the Dunn Museum’s HVAC zones; controlling relative humidity is crucial for archival and museum collections because inappropriate levels of either can contribute to deterioration,” said Director of Education Nan Buckardt.

The Dunn Museum is the principal repository of Lake County's history. Preservation of its valuable collections enables staff to educate and inform the public through research, exhibitions, and programming. “This project will benefit the collections and ultimately benefit all museum visitors and residents of Lake County,” Buckardt said.

Department of Natural Resources leaders say they understand the economic and social benefits a museum brings to a community and is committed to partner in making capital improvements and new exhibits in Illinois.

“The grant is helping the nationally accredited Dunn Museum—a distinction held by only 3% of American museums—cares for a treasure trove of history about the Lake County region,” Buckardt said.