WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - Later this month, the Smithsonian will officially have a new secretary. Lonnie Bunch was recently named to the post, and he will be the first African-American to hold the position.
It’s the first time in 74 years that a director of a Smithsonian museum will lead the entire institution.
Bunch last served as the head of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture.
At the time, he was named the head of the museum – he had one employee, no collection, and no building.
Since the opening of the museum in 2016 nearly 7 million people have visited.
Now he will be in charge of all 19 Smithsonian museums – the first time an African American has held the position.
Bunch says it’s a responsibility he’s proud to have.
“It’s a responsibility that, candidly, being black in America you always have. You’ve got an opportunity to sort of make sure that it’s not just your success but that you open doors for many, many other people. So that something you carry with you all the time. Because you recognize that you’re not here by yourself but that you’re standing on amazing shoulders. And so therefore your desire is to not just give back but to reach back. To make sure that the doors and hurdles that you had to fight to get through that somebody else doesn’t have to do that and I take very seriously the lessons that I have been given.”
Bunch will be the 14th Smithsonian Secretary. He’s spent 35 years in the museum field, and will officially assume his new duties on June 16.