Smithsonian Institution Appoints First African-American Leader

Lonnie G. Bunch III has been named as the Smithsonian’s new secretary, making him the first African American to lead the 173-year-old institution. Bunch was the founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened in Washington, D.C., three years ago. He is considered a giant in the museum world, and will also become the first Smithsonian director to ascend to the secretary’s post in 74 years. As secretary, Bunch is responsible for a $1.5 billion annual budget that supports 19 museums, nine research centers, and the National Zoo. “I have such a profound love of the Smithsonian,” he said. “I want to help the world see the Smithsonian as I do, as a place that matters, with gifted people who just want to serve their country.” Bunch acknowledged the significance of his appointment, and said that being the first African American in the post “will open doors for others.”