Lonnie G. Bunch, III

Lonnie G. Bunch, III (Photo credit: Michael Barnes, Smithsonian Institution Archives)

In 2019, Lonnie G. Bunch, III (1952–    ) was elected 14th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, becoming the first African American and the first historian to head the world's largest museum and research complex, which is home to nineteen museums, nine research centers, and several affiliates throughout the world. He was promoted from his position as founding director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture (2005–2019), which opened in 2016. He tells the story of the museum's creation in A Fool's Errand: Creating the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the Age of Bush, Obama, and Trump (2019). Born in Newark, New Jersey, and educated at Howard University and American University (bachelor's, 1974; master's 1976; American and African American history) in Washington, D.C., he has held positions in several museums throughout his career—National Air and Space Museum (1978–1979), California African American Museum in Los Angeles (1983–1989), and National Museum of American History (1989–2000)—and was president of the Chicago Historical Society (2001–2005). He has held teaching positions at the University of Massachusetts, American University, and The George Washington University. His widely published works cover topics such as slavery, the black military experience, the American presidency, the impact of race in the American West, diversity in museum management, and funding and politics in museum management. Among Lonnie's many honors are the BET Honors Award for Education (2011), President's Award at the NAACP Image Awards (2017), the Greater Washington Urban League Impact Leader Award (2017), the Phi Beta Kappa Award for Distinguished Service (2018), and the National Education Association Award for Distinguished Service for Education (2018). In 2017, he was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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