Campbell Arms Museum veteran now runs McKinley Memorial Museum | News, Sports, Jobs


Belinda Weiss de Campbell is the new director of the William McKinley Birthplace Museum in Niles. She previously worked for the Arms Family Museum in Youngstown Weiss is a history buff and teaches at Kent State University,

Campbell resident Belinda Weiss, who spent many years at the Arms Family Museum in Youngstown, has taken over as the new director of the National McKinley Memorial Birthplace Museum in Niles.

Weiss, who started in January, said she was excited about the “great opportunity” as museum director.

Prior to starting at the museum, Weiss spent the past 11 years as a guide coordinator/curatorial assistant at the Arms Family Museum. She learned of her selection as director of the Niles Museum on New Year’s Eve and was officially hired on January 6.

Weiss said she always loved history in school and eventually studied history for both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Youngstown State University.

Weiss also worked as a college professor at Kent State University, often teaching classes online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I love that in history, everything is so interconnected. Things don’t just happen in a vacuum. History is reflected in everything, whether it’s literature, works of art, music. It goes way beyond dates and facts and names. It’s comprehensive and that’s why I appreciate it,” Weiss said.

The Campbell resident said many people she worked with at the Weapons Museum helped her and provided her with advice, knowledge and skills she can bring to her new position in Niles.

“I watched and learned and I intend to use what I learned there to help this place grow and be better recognized as the museum of weapons,” Weiss said.

She said she hopes to tell the community and various historical groups about the museum.

“I want people to come see the memorial and learn a bit more about the 25th President, William McKinley. Many people have never been here before and then enter this magnificent building whose construction began in 1915 and ended in 1917. The building itself is very impressive. There’s a lot of information here on McKinley. It must be something on people’s radar,” she said.

Weiss said she looked forward to expanding the museum and getting more recognition for it. She also plans to organize more events to attract more visitors.

“I have a very supportive board, so there’s no limit to events. It’s a presidential museum, so it will be nice to have more recognition,” Weiss said.

Plans for the museum include a model car exhibit, a political show and a tea party this spring.

Weiss said for Women’s History Month in March, she will have exhibits by Ida McKinley showcasing her life, which included poor health and epilepsy.

“We don’t often hear about Ida. I want to focus on the relationship between her and William. He was very dedicated and devoted to Ida’s condition. It was a love story in many ways of William’s support for her and everything she’s been through,” Weiss said.

“I try to have a regular exhibition that changes all the time in the two large showcases of the museum. I want to highlight local collectors. The one in March is historical models of the moon landing and the White House and others. It’s going to be something people want to see,” Weiss said.

She said other exhibits planned include Native American culture in April with arrowheads and other artifacts.

“I want to start introducing local people and what they collect or have done. I would like to bring their collections to this museum,” she said,

Weiss said she would like to bring students into the museum for college internships or class projects.

The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Friday. In her spare time, Weiss enjoys reading and is also an avid runner in her neighborhood.

Weiss and her husband Gene love to travel. She has a daughter, Holly Vavlas.

To suggest a Saturday profile, contact Feature Editor Burton Cole at [email protected] or Metro Editor Marly Reichert at [email protected]

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