"We are very pleased that Bonnie is willing to take this on," said
Dr. George Rabb, chairman of the museum board. "She's a person of
substantial accomplishments already. We considered recommendations
from the professional museum community around the country, but
clearly Bonnie was the best fit in terms of experience within this
institution and her vision of further outreach with the citizens of
Styles, who becomes the first woman to lead the museum
in its 128-year history, possesses a strong background, extensive
experience and leadership roles in all aspects of the museum's field
research, collections, education, exhibitions and administration.
"This is something I've been preparing for nearly my entire
career," said Styles, who has worked for the Illinois State Museum
in progressively responsible positions since joining the staff as
associate curator of anthropology in 1977. "I'm excited because I
think we have some real opportunities ahead of us."
Those opportunities include the expansion of the scope of Dickson
Mounds Museum to take advantage of the Emiquon Wetlands Restoration
Project and include more natural history exhibits and programs.
Styles took over on an interim basis for Dr. R. Bruce McMillan,
who has been on research leave since July. He will retire at the end
of December after serving as Illinois State Museum director for 29
years. "Dr. McMillan built a fantastic state museum system, one that
has been nationally recognized, and I hope to build on that solid
foundation during my tenure," Styles said.
McMillan has been named director emeritus and will serve the
museum as a research associate.
Styles has a doctorate in anthropology from Northwestern
University. Before joining the Illinois State Museum, she served as
an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of
The Illinois State Museum, operated by the Illinois Department of
Natural Resources, is comprised of museums across the state, with
facilities in Springfield, Chicago, Lockport, Lewistown and Rend
[to top of second column]
Biography: Dr. Bonnie Styles
Bonnie Styles, formerly associate museum director, served as
director pro tem of the Illinois State Museum beginning July 1,
2005. She has worked for the Illinois State Museum in progressively
responsible positions since joining the staff as associate curator
of anthropology in 1977. She was promoted to full curator in 1983,
director of sciences in 1988, and associate director of science and
education in 1999. She has a doctorate in anthropology from
Northwestern University. Before coming to the Illinois State Museum,
she served as an assistant professor of anthropology at the
University of Virginia.
Styles has 29 years of museum experience, during which time she
directed interdisciplinary research in the museum's Landscape
History Program, upgraded collections care and management, developed
innovative education programs that provide public access to current
research and collections -- including programs for low-income
students, statewide teacher training and distance learning, overseen
the museum's publication programs, and developed major museum
exhibitions on the natural and cultural history of Illinois that
have reached over 6 million visitors to the state museum.
She directed the development of the Peoples of the Past
exhibition, which presents Illinois' Native American heritage, and
the award-winning Changes exhibition, which opened in 2004 and
conveys the story of 500 million years of environmental change in
She has also developed Web-based exhibits on the art,
anthropology and natural environments of Illinois that are accessed
by about 300,000 online visitors each month.
Department of Natural Resources news release]