New high-tech home has been unveiled for up to 900,000 of Ohio History Connection’s artifacts

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As many as 900,000 historical artifacts ranging from wooly mammoth teeth to the camp chair of Ulysses S. Grant will soon now have a new home just off Interstate 71.

That’s after the Ohio History Connection unveiled its new Collections Care Center, a $22 million, 16,500 square-foot property designed to house as many as as half of the 1.8 million historical artifacts in the care of the statewide history organization tasked under the Ohio Revised Code with preserving and maintaining Ohio history.

Becky Odom, the manager of the curatorial department, said the new center will open a whole new era of access to the pieces of Ohio history in the organization’s collection.

“These objects are the objects of history —they were there,” Odom said. “They not only provide us with information that can help us learn about the past, but to help us understand the past or in order to understand how we got to where we are.”

The new center is in the brutalist architectural style like the adjacent museum, and features ample natural light and state-of-the-art humidity, lighting and climate-controlling technology to best preserve the documents.

Located on the northeast part of OHC campus at 800 E. 17th Ave., it also features dedicated space for processing new items, natural history storage and even a space for taxidermy of animal specimens.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” Odom said. “I’m really excited.”

On display Tuesday for members of the media included items like the Civil War camp chair of Ohioan Ulysses S. Grant, bones and fossils and collections of historical items ranging from clothing to presidential campaign memorabilia. Additional items will be transferred from existing warehouses in the coming weeks.

Odom stressed that the collections center was open to the public on an appointment basis. She said many people access the item collections for reenactment purposes, restorations — or even just plain curiosity.

“You don’t have to be an academic, you don’t have to be a student — it can just be anyone that’s interested in history — for any reason, really,” Odom said.

Appointments can be made by emailing collections@ohiohistory.org or by calling 614-297-2535.

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The $22 million project was funded through various state appropriations going back to former Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s and Gov. Mike DeWine. The organization also received funding from the Greater Columbus Arts Council and other donors.

Construction began in Oct. 2022 and was completed on time and on-budget, according to a release.

The Ohio History Connection unveiled their new 16,500-square-foot storage area for collection items not on display at their E. 17th Ave. campus. It is nestled in between I-71 and the Ohio Village.

Carlos Lugo, the senior architect at OHC, said the design of the building emphasized creating the best storage environment for the collection items and also creating a great space for employees to work.

Lugo said the new facility only represents phase one of a multiphase plan to improve the Ohio History Connection for visitors, staff and curators. The plan includes renovating the Ohio Village, exhibits at the Ohio State Fair, and a creating a master plan for preservation and renovation.

“We’re pretty excited to start to create a more cohesive campus,” Lugo said.

Jun 6, 2024; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio History Connection curators Marlise Schoeny (left) and Becky Preiss Odom look at an evening gown as The Ohio History Connection unveiled their new 16,500-square-foot storage area for collection items not on regular display at their E. 17th Ave. campus. Schoeny said their will be 5,000 to 8,000 pieces of clothing stored in the new building. There will also be about 500 military uniforms from all service branches stored there.