BOWLING GREEN -- The long-time director of the Wood County Historical Center and Museum in Bowling Green has been hired as the first female director of the Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont.
Christie Weininger, who is to assume her new role Sept. 4, succeeds Thomas Culbertson, who retired Aug. 1 after 24 years at the Hayes Center, the last seven as executive director.
A farewell reception for Ms. Weininger is planned for 5 p.m. Thursday at the historical museum in Bowling Green. A search is under way to replace her.
"We're sorry to see her go. She's as enthusiastic today as she was the day she got here," said Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar. "She's been good to work with and she has really done a lot of good things out there and professionalized everything about the museum."
Ms. Weininger, 39, of Oak Harbor said she has enjoyed working with and visiting the Hayes Center over the years.
"I spent a couple of days last week with retiring executive director Tom Culbertson, and was impressed by the detailed and beautiful restoration of the Hayes Home," she said. "I was also fascinated with the volume of archival materials they have in the library's archive. There are four floors of stacks."
She said it was exciting to examine President Hayes' diaries.
"It gave me a thrill to see the president's own handwriting," she said. "What draws me to museum work is the artifacts themselves -- that tangible connection between past and present."
Ms. Weininger became the Wood County museum's director in 2003. During her tenure there, she oversaw restoration of the museum's two-story, wrap-around porches, the opening of a pedestrian bridge on the museum's 51-acre grounds, and the final work on the restored Lunatic House, which once housed the county's mentally ill residents.
Under her direction, the historical center landed two traveling exhibits from the Smithsonian Institution and created an audio driving tour of historic sites in Wood County. The tour won an award of merit from the Ohio Museums Association. She is president of the Ohio Local History Alliance and chairman of the public history committee for the Ohio Academy of History executive council.
"Christie has established herself as a rising star in the world of history and museum organizations in the state of Ohio," Stephen A. Hayes, president of the Hayes Center's board of trustees, said in a prepared statement. "She excelled at bringing renewed interest and vitality in her prior position in Wood County and is excited by the challenges of taking on leadership of an institution of national significance."
Mr. Hayes said he was pleased to be part of hiring the center's first female director. President Hayes -- his great-great-great grandfather -- was "ahead of his time in gender equality, having signed into law a bill that for the first time made it possible for women attorneys to argue cases before the U.S. Supreme Court."
Ms. Weininger is an adjunct instructor in the history department at Heidelberg University in Tiffin, where she teaches a course in Ohio heritage. She also teaches a course in historical society administration in the popular culture department at Bowling Green State University. She has a bachelor's degree from Otterbein University and a master's degree from the University of Toledo.
She said she'll miss the Wood County Historical Museum.
"After nine years of nurturing partnerships, encouraging the staff, board, members and volunteers, and developing many unique programs, I've really gotten attached to the people and the place," Ms. Weininger said. "I have joined the Wood County Historical Society as a life member though, so I intend to stay in touch."