By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Five years ago, Dana Nemeth came home to the Wood County Historical Museum – the former county infirmary that she frequently visited as a child.
As director of the museum, she was at the helm as the site was transformed into an ADA accessible facility – no simple feat for the rambling building more than a century old. And she led the staff as they created a World War I exhibit that filled the sprawling site and drew the largest crowds ever at the museum.
But now, Nemeth is leaving for another challenge – also one close to her heart.
On April 2, she will move into the new position of reference archivist at the Bowling Green State University popular culture library.
“It’s bittersweet,” Nemeth said about her departure from the museum and arrival at the library.
“I love the museum and what I do there,” she said. “I grew up going to that museum. It’s had a special place in my heart – always has, always will.”
Nemeth’s dad, Dorsey Sergent served as the pharmacist for residents at the county infirmary, then later volunteered his time to turn the closed site into a county historical museum.
“I remember as a little girl going over there with my sister,” Nemeth said of the historical center which is about a quarter-mile from her childhood home.
But Nemeth also has history with her new home at BGSU. She graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Master of Arts in Popular Culture, and previously served as a library associate at BGSU’s Jerome Library’s Center for Archival Collections. As a student, she worked in the pop culture library.
Her new position is in administration, and will entail supervising student employees and helping with research requests. BGSU was looking for someone with a library science degree and popular culture expertise.
“It just seemed like a really good fit for me,” Nemeth said. “It seemed like the right thing to do.”
She previously worked at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, N.Y.; the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich.; and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.
During her years as director at the county historical museum, the overarching goal was to make the site more accessible. With the help of state funding, support from the county commissioners, and volunteer fundraising efforts, the museum was transformed and now has an elevator so people of all abilities can see all the exhibits.
“Accessibility is the thing I’m most proud of,” Nemeth said. “That was something we wanted for 40-plus years.”
The museum also took a big chance by switching from its traditional exhibits, and turning the entire building into an examination of World War I and Wood County’s role in the war.
“I’m really proud of all the staff has accomplished,” Nemeth said.
As director, Nemeth said she benefitted from the support of the county commissioners. “I really enjoyed working for the county.” And she appreciated working with the museum’s board of trustees. “I made a lot of lifelong friends.”
The move to BGSU is also bittersweet now that the heavy-duty work making the museum accessible is done. The new director will be able to build on that – and Nemeth is looking forward to seeing how the museum grows.
“It’s hard to walk away from it,” she said. “But I leave it in good hands.”