Here’s some excellent news for your day: Lonnie G. Bunch III, the founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, has just been named the next secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. This position encompasses all 19 Smithsonian museums, 21 libraries, and even the National Zoo. This is a huge deal in general, as the secretary role is (basically) comparable to that of being the CEO of a company. But it’s especially important because Bunch is the first black man ever to take this role.
This is an appointment 173 years in the making.
Bunch will take over from David Skorton, the outgoing secretary, in less than a month. The organization’s Board of Regents awarded Bunch the position in a unanimous vote.
Given Bunch’s extensive experience in working for the Smithsonian, he’s an obvious pick. In addition to founding and developing the National Museum of African American History and Culture , he has also worked for the National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of American History.
“It is important for the public to view the Smithsonian not simply as an addict of nostalgia, but as a cauldron of ideas of innovation and understanding that can be transformative for our country,” Bunch said at a news conference following the announcement.
“To accomplish this, though, the Smithsonian must become a much more nimble entity,” he continued. “It must be an institution that is ripe with technology, an institution better suited to serve 21st-century audiences, and an institution of research, of great collections, and of wonder that helps America understand itself and its world. This will ensure that the Smithsonian will always be what it once was. It will always ensure that the Smithsonian will be a place where scholarship, creativity, education and service come together for the greater good.”
“I have such a profound love of the Smithsonian,” Bunch 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.”
Watch Bunch discuss the African American History Museum: