Posted by Barton Lorimor
* Press release…
Justin A. Blandford has been named Curator of the newly renovated Illinois Governor’s Mansion. His appointment was announced today by Gov. Bruce Rauner.
In his new position, Blandford will be responsible for creating and implementing the Mansion’s new strategic vision, which includes a greater focus on history, education, creative arts, and visitor experiences. As Curator, he will be the Mansion’s liaison with the Springfield historical community and ensure the Mansion’s place among the city’s historic sites.
Blandford will lead the development of events and marketing programs to attract visitors to the Mansion, which is the third oldest Governor’s mansion in use today. In addition, he will manage day-to-day Mansion operations, oversee maintenance of the grounds and the facility, and manage the Mansion’s workforce and volunteers.
“Justin’s background is a great fit for the reimagined Mansion,” said Gov. Rauner. “He’s been part of the renovation project, so he understands the mission. The Mansion is now ‘The People’s House’ to enjoy and learn from, and his entire career has been focused on bringing people in closer touch with history and historic preservation.”
Blandford has been a Historic Site Superintendent in the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) since 2004. Most recently he directed operations at six nationally significant state-owned historic sites: Lincoln Tomb, Veterans Memorials, Old State Capitol, Lincoln Law Office, Vachel Lindsay Home, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Dana House. The sites attract 325,000 visitors each year.
“As a museum manager and historian, I’m honored to serve as the curator of the newly restored Illinois Governor’s Mansion, with its expanded educational offerings,” Blandford said.
“During our bicentennial year, it is fitting that we are restoring this landmark as a symbol of leadership, as a relevant and meaningful history education experience, and as a place to inspire civic responsibility. We are looking forward to building partnerships and creating a world class portfolio of programs.”
The new Curator began his career in public service as a Dunn Fellow/Policy Assistant in 1999 following his graduation from Webster University in St. Louis. He worked at the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency before joining DNR. He obtained his Masters in History this year from the University of Illinois in Springfield.
Blandford will report to the Governor’s Chief of Staff and his appointment is effective June 18, 2018.
Justin has weathered through several administrations. Congratulations to him.
* Speaking of the mansion, Bernie had this to offer this morning…
Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and his wife, Diana, recently moved back into the downtown building after extensive restorations still getting finishing touches. Diana Rauner has co-chaired the non-profit Illinois Governor’s Mansion Association, which has raised nearly $15 million from private donors for the work.
And, it turns out, a couple of those donors are Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker, and his wife.
“J.B. and his wife, M.K., have supported the renovation efforts,” Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said Thursday night. “M.K. sits on the board and has helped with fundraising.”
And given that Pritzker is running against Rauner in the November election, she added that “J.B. is looking forward to calling Springfield home when he’s elected governor.”
M.K. Pritzker was on the board long before her husband thought about running for governor, according to the campaign.