Kidscommons manager moves to older audience

A local marketing professional said she is optimistic she can generate the same type of success at an adult museum that she has enjoyed at Columbus’ only children’s museum.

Diane Robbins will become executive director of the Bartholomew County Historical Society, effective in January. She has served as community relations/marketing manager for kidscommons for the past 11 years.

Robbins, 58, will take over the top administrative duties from Tom Brosey, who has been serving as interim director.

The historical society has gone two full years without a full-time chief administrator following the resignation of Julie Hughes in November 2015 to attend graduate school.

Hughes’ resignation came 11 months after the historical society announced the purchase of the former Brad’s Furniture Gallery at 538 Washington St.

During a December 2014 purchase announcement, the historical society outlined a campaign that called for spending $1.8 million on a new headquarters and museum over a three- to five-year period.

When Hughes resigned, however, that goal was put on an indefinite hold.

“Diane has a proven track record of reaching out to and across multiple organizations,” historical society board president Jason Hatton said. “She’s exactly the right person for the job as the historical society works to reestablish itself as a cornerstone, community entity.“

That track record includes organizing the annual children’s museum Carnivale fundraiser, which has grown from netting about $50,000 a year to about $150,000 in 2015, Robbins said.

During Robbins’ tenure, membership at kidscommons has grown from 20,000 guests to more than 50,000 guests annually, she said.

“My job has been to grow admissions, so I’m really proud of that,” Robbins said.

Robbins said one of her priorities in her new position will be to take valuable historical items out of storage and put them on display.

“It’s my goal to bring everything the Historical Society has into the community, so we can have an active presence,” Robbins said.

The warehousing of exhibits is necessary because its current location — the McEwen-Samuels-Marr House at 524 Third St. — has a limited amount of space to display historical items and for offices.

Robbins sees her main responsibility as reaching out to the community and creating new collaboration and partnerships, she said.

“You seek out partners who believe that you bring value to the Columbus community,” Robbins said.

Diane Robbins

Age: 58

Hometown: Normal, Illinois

Moved to Columbus: 1993

Professional experience: Has worked for kidscommons for 11 years.  Former buyer for Bridgestone Tire in Decatur, Illinois.

Community service:  Columbus Service League, Parkside Elementary PTO, St. Peter’s Lutheran Church.

Family: Husband, Mike. Three adult children.

Author photo
Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5636.