Former faculty member tapped as Smithsonian Institute secretary

Historian and former faculty member Lonnie Bunch will serve as the first African American secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, the Washington Business Journal reported Tuesday.

Bunch, the founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, will head the Smithsonian’s 19 museums and galleries and the National Zoological Park starting June 16, the Washington Business Journal reported Tuesday. The Smithsonian Institute’s Board of Regents selected Bunch from a pool of about 800 candidates after former Secretary David Skorton stepped down in December.

“Leading that museum gave me the confidence and belief that we can do anything,” Bunch said at a press conference Tuesday. “I realized that the Smithsonian is where I want to spend the last part of my career because the Smithsonian can do things that no one else can.”

Board members chose Bunch because of his commitment to the Smithsonian’s 2022 strategic plan, which prioritizes the use of technology to attract more visitors to museums, the Washington Business Journal reported. Spencer Crew, the former director of the National Museum of American History, will become interim director of the NMAAHC until a new leader is appointed, according to the Business Journal.

Bunch previously served as president of the Chicago Historical Society from 2001 to 2005 and taught at GW from 1989 to 2000.

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