Museum News

Lonnie G. Bunch III named Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution

May 28, 2019

Lonnie G. Bunch III was today named the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. As Secretary, Bunch will oversee 19 museums, 21 libraries, the National Zoo, nine research centers, and several education units and centers. Bunch is 14th Secretary of the Smithsonian in its 173-year history.  
Bunch has spent more than forty years in the museum field, where he is regarded as one of the nation’s leading historians and public intellectuals with honorary degrees from universities including Princeton University, Brown University, Rutgers University, Dominican University and Roosevelt University. In 2017, Bunch was elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. A prolific author, Bunch has written on topics ranging from slavery and the American presidency to diversity in the museum field. His latest book, due out in September, is focused on the making of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. 
As founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Bunch led all efforts to build a national museum, the largest devoted exclusively to African American history and culture. The museum opened with twelve exhibitions and in three years mounted three special exhibitions. During Bunch’s tenure, the museum welcomed more than five and a half million visitors; raised $453 million dollars; published 22 books; provided 119 public programs; reached millions online through the web and social media. The museum received LEED Gold certification, the first on the National Mall.   
Among many accomplishments under the leadership of Lonnie Bunch, the museum received numerous awards, including but not limited to: 

  • 2017 American Alliance of Museums Gold MUSE Award;  
  • 2017 American Institute of Architects Award for Excellence;  
  • 2017 People’s Choice for Website Design Webby Award;  
  • 2017 American Association of School Librarians Best Teaching Mobile App;  
  • 2018 Best Social Discovery Campaign WEBBY Award for #HiddenHerstory;    
  • 2018 Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement; and 
  • 2018 PRSA Silver Anvil Award for Integrated Communications.  

Spencer Crew, PhD will serve as interim director of the museum. He brings more than 25 years of experience to the role, as a museum curator, scholar and director. Crew was guest curator for the museum’s “Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom: Era of Segregation 1876-1968” exhibition and former director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. He was also president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Crew is currently a Robinson Professor of U.S. History at George Mason University. 
Crew and the museum’s leadership team remain committed to continuing the great work that Bunch started: building world class exhibitions and public programs, providing a top-notch visitor experience and extending the museum’s reach around the world. 

Media Contact(s): 

Fleur Paysour (202) 633-4761; 
Lindsey Koren (202) 633-4052; 

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About The Museum

The National Museum of African American History and Culture will be a place where all Americans can learn about the richness and diversity of the African American experience, what it means to their lives and how it helped us shape this nation. A place that transcends the boundaries of race and culture that divide us, and becomes a lens into a story that unites us all.