Lonnie Bunch Becomes First Black Smithsonian Secretary

Lonnie Bunch become the first ever Black secretary of the Smithsonian.

Lonnie Bunch is first ever Black to head the Smithsonian. He formerly headed the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

By Free Radical

Historian and museum executive, Lonnie Bunch, has been named the first ever secretary of the Smithsonian. Bunch is most known for being the founding director of the massively successful National Museum of African American History and Culture. Based on his success in that role, Bunch will now head all of the Smithsonian’s 19 museums as its 14th Secretary.

“The Smithsonian is the most amazing place, and sometimes it forgets to act like it. I want it to act like the best institution in the world,” Bunch said upon his appointment.

Chief Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, who is the chancellor of the Smithsonian, also speaks very highly of Bunch. “I look forward to working with him as we approach the Smithsonian’s 175th anniversary, to increase its relevance and role as a beloved American institution and public trust, ” Roberts said.

Since opening in 2016, the National Museum of African American History and Culture has been one of the most popular museums of the Smithsonian. It still has long lines for entry and has had more than 3.5 million visitors. As the museum’s director, Bunch helped in generating $315 million in private donations prior to its opening.

Though Bunch will leave his former post, he does not intend to shy away from the experiences of people of color. “My whole career has been about expanding the canon, making sure that African American issues, that Latino issues, that issues of gender are at the forefront,” Bunch said. “And what I’m proudest of is that the Smithsonian will take the lead in grappling with these issues. … No matter what happens, the Smithsonian will always be that place to help us understand a diverse America.”

Bunch replaces David Skorton who will head the Association of American Medical Colleges.

A native of Newark, New Jersey, Bunch has worked in a variety of roles at the National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of American History, the California African American Museum, and the Chicago Historical Society.

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