Lonnie Bunch III, the founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture has now been appointed secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. He’s the first African American leader in the institution’s 173-year history.
His nomination was approved Tuesday by the Smithsonian’s Board of Regents. Bunch succeeds David J. Skorton, who announced his resignation last December and whose final day is June 15.
The 66-year-old Bunch is considered a giant in the museum field and will become the 14th secretary of the quasi-federal institution, responsible for a $1.5 billion budget that supports 19 museums, nine research centers and the National Zoo. Even more impressive? He’s the first Smithsonian director to ascend to the top spot in 74 years.
Bunch’s first day is June 16.
“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.”