COLUMBUS, Ohio — The 129-year-old Ohio Historical Society is being rebranded as the Ohio History Connection, after many state residents said they saw the organization as inaccessible and antiquated.
The switch will happen on May 24, following public opinion polls that showed “a disconnect between the quality of services we’re providing and the image,” said executive director Burt Logan.
Logan — who was brought in five years ago to take charge of the financially struggling nonprofit organization — and the board of directors are taking on the task of changing the society’s admittedly stodgy image, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
“For the last two years, we’ve been extensively researching this topic about how Ohioans relate to our name, which is seen as exclusive and not having an image across the state that people find welcoming,” the society said in a statement.
“We want to move the organization out from behind the glass. We’re not dumbing down history; we’re making it more accessible,” Logan said. “The name change is not a panacea, but it sends a signal to a broad audience that we have entered a new day.”
The change will mean updating or replacing thousands of signs around the state.
The organization oversees 1.6 million items at 58 museums and historic, archaeological and natural history sites in 40 of Ohio’s 88 counties, covering 5,000 acres and 300 buildings built between 1788 and 2010. That includes the Ohio History Center in Columbus.
Additionally, 70,000 cubic feet of records are stored in the State Archives, Library & Artifact Collections, and 250,000 images are in Ohio Memory, a digital library accessible online.
In the past four years, the number of visits to historic sites and museums increased 95 percent, with memberships and donations also increasing.