Ohio History Connection CEO Burt Logan to Retire in Early 2023

During Burt Logan's tenure at Ohio History Connection, he worked to improve relations with Ohio's historic tribal groups and helped lift the organization out of financial difficulties.

Suzanne Goldsmith
Columbus Monthly
Ohio History Connection CEO Burt Logan spoke at the organization's  Tribal Nation Dinner on October 24, 2019

Ohio History Connection CEO Burt Logan will retire at the beginning of 2023 after 13 years leading the statewide history organization. His tenure, Logan says in a statement, “has been the culmination of my life’s work. Along with a dedicated staff, I have worked throughout these past 13 years to ensure that we tell the deep and rich history of all of Ohio.”

During his time with the History Connection, Logan helped lift the statewide nonprofit organization out of dire financial straits, oversaw efforts to make the agency more vital and inclusive, and developed relationships with tribal organizations representing Ohio’s earliest residents. The organization houses the state historic preservation office and the official state archives and serves and manages 58 sites and museums across the state that interpret Ohio’s history, archaeology, natural history and historic architecture.

An executive search firm has been hired to work with Ohio History Connection’s trustees to identify a new leader for the 137-year-old organization. Logan will remain in his position until a new CEO is in place.

Under Burt Logan's leadership, Ohio Village reopened, position of Director of American Indian Relations created

The Ohio Village is part of the Ohio History Connection. I-71 wraps around the attraction at the top of the photograph.

Logan, 68, came to what was then the Ohio Historical Society in 2009, during a recession that had left the agency weakened following a 42 percent drop in public funding. He stabilized the organization’s financial position by tapping private reserves to keep local historic sites open to the public and by partnering with grassroots organizations to manage those sites while updating exhibits to make them more attractive to the public. The Ohio Village was reopened at the organization’s base near the state fairgrounds in 2012 after a nine-year hiatus, and programming has been gradually expanded to embrace the stories of Ohioans previously overlooked by the agency and other mainstream history organizations.

In 2014, Logan initiated a rebranding of the Ohio Historical Society as Ohio History Connection, a nod toward the agency’s commitment to be less fusty and more inclusive.

Alex Wesaw, director of American Indian relations at Ohio History Connection, works with more than 40 native tribes.

A notable accomplishment was Logan’s work to improve relations with Ohio’s historic tribal groups, who under his leadership gained representation on the organization’s board. In 2016, he established a position at the agency for a Native American liaison. These and other advances laid the groundwork for the announcement last week that the National Park Service will nominate Ohio’s Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks for recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Taken together, the 2,000-year-old earthworks at eight sites are the world’s largest collection of ancient Native-built mounds that were not created as fortifications or for defense. In support of the earthworks’ hoped-for recognition, Ohio History Connection, under Logan’s leadership, took legal action to reclaim one of the sites, the Octagon Earthworks in Newark, from a golf club. A state Supreme Court ruling on the golf club’s effort to regain its lease on the site is still pending.

The Octagon Earthworks in Newark

“Burt's leadership and commitment to getting the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks officially recognized as World Heritage sites has been exceptional,” Hope Taft, Ohio’s former First Lady and longtime champion of this cause, says in a release. “He will be missed.”

Before joining the Ohio History Connection, Logan was executive director and president of the U.S.S. Constitution Museum in Boston. He also served as the director of the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, and as executive director of the Wyoming Historical and Geological Society (now the Luzerne County Historical Society) in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he was awarded the General of the Army Omar Nelson Bradley Award for Excellence in Historical Research, Logan is a former chair of the Accreditation Commission for the American Alliance of Museums and is the incoming council chair of the American Association for State and Local History.