Historical Society of Dunkirk hires new director

The Historical Society of Dunkirk recently hired Jane Babinsky as the new director of the Historical Society and Museum. This is the first time in its history that the Society has added a paid director to its staff. According to board trustee James Hurtgen, this move will greatly assist the Historical Society as it works to make the museum a more professional organization.

Babinsky is the immediate past director of the Chagrin Falls, Ohio, Historical Society and Museum. As one of its board members noted, she helped transform the Chagrin Falls Museum from a sleepy little place to a serious museum. During her tenure, the museum mounted a major fundraising campaign resulting in the purchase and restoration of an 1874 former residence and funeral home as its new 6,000-square-foot museum. The campaign greatly enlarged the museum’s endowment.

Museum hours were extended to 30 hours weekly. She increased its volunteer corps to 100 members and museum membership to 400. She made staff and volunteer training a priority as she worked to advance the museum.

Under Babinsky’s leadership, the Chagrin Falls Historical Society was awarded certification under the Standards and Excellence Program for History Organizations (StEPs) of the American Association of State and Local History (AASLH). StEPs is AASLH’s assessment program designed to help history organizations benchmark themselves against national museum standards.

Former colleagues described Ms. Babinsky as a strong leader, “forceful but gentle with staff and volunteers.” Her initial goals include reorganizing the committee structure of the museum, filling the positions of Archivist, Curator and Photo Archivist, and commencing a new membership drive. Ongoing renovation of the museum building will continue. The museum is located at 513 Washington Ave., Dunkirk.

The museum is currently open Mondays and Fridays 1 to 4 p.m., and Wednesdays 3 to 6 p.m.