The Smithsonian appointed its first African American director Lonnie Bunch Tuesday, May 28.
What We Know…
- Bunch founded the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture three years ago. He will become the institution’s 14th Secretary beginning June 16, following cardiologist David Skorton.
- Not only will Bunch be the institution’s first African American Secretary but he will also be the first historian to be appointed and the first museum director to have been promoted to Secretary in 74 years.
- Bunch himself said he was “a tad stunned” by his historical appointment, but the chairman of the board that elected him David Rubenstein said the search for director “wasn’t really close,” Bunch was clearly the best candidate.
- Bunch has served as the president of the Chicago Historical Society where he created innovative diversity-based outreach initiatives. Bunch has also worked at the National Museum of American History, California African American Museum, American Association of Museums and many more celebrated museums and curatorial boards.
- In addition, Bunch has authored books about black military experience and race in America.
- Smithsonian controls 19 museums, nine research centers and the National Zoo, creating an annual budget of around $1.5 billion for Bunch to manage.
Bunch’s experience in historical curation and museum management will lead the Smithsonian into its 174th year as a nationally celebrated institution.