Lonnie Bunch III Will Make History as the First African American to Lead the Smithsonian Institution


May 28, 2019

The founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Lonnie G. Bunch III, has just been named the 14th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institute.

Bunch’s election by the Board of Regents makes him the first African American secretary in the organization’s 173-year history.



During the news conference chairman of the Board of Regents, David Rubenstein, referenced one of Bunch’s recent contributions to the Smithsonian.

“He has achieved one of the most impressive accomplishments at the Smithsonian in decades, building the African American Museum from scratch,” Rubenstein said. 

The secretary position is equivalent to being the CEO in a private company. In this position Bunch will oversee a $1.5 billion annual budget, the Smithsonian Institute’s 19 museums, 21 libraries, the National Zoo and countless other research and education units and centers. According to the Smithsonian’s Twitter account, Bunch is “also the first historian elected Secretary and the first museum director to ascend to Secretary in 74 years.”


He will officially take over as secretary this June. As for the next director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, we aren’t sure who’ll take over, but we’d like to humbly recommend Thelma Golden.

Congratulations and thank you for opening doors, Mr. Bunch!

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