Lonnie G. Bunch III, 'Fool’s Errands: Building a National Museum, and Leading Cultural Organizations During Dual Pandemics'


Thursday, October 22, 2020, 4:00pm


Du Bois Virtual Lecture

Lonnie G. Bunch, III

Lonnie G. Bunch III, The Smithsonian Institution

Fool’s Errands:  Building a National Museum, and Leading Cultural Organizations During Dual Pandemics

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Historian, author, curator, and educator, Lonnie G. Bunch, III is the 14th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum complex, who was appointed in June 2019.

Prior to assuming this position, Bunch was the founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC).  In this position he provided strategic leadership in areas of fundraising, collections, and academic and cultural partnerships.

As a public historian, a scholar who brings history to the people, Bunch has spent nearly 30 years in the museum field where he is regarded as one of the nation’s leading figures in the historical and museum community.

Prior to his July 2005 appointment as director of NMAAHC, Bunch served as the president of the Chicago Historical Society, one of the nation’s oldest museums of history.

Bunch has held several positions at the Smithsonian, and spent a number of years at both the National Museum of American History and the National Air and Space Museum.

A prolific and widely published author, Bunch has written on topics ranging from slavery, the black military experience, the American presidency, and all black towns in the American west to diversity in museum management and the impact of funding and politics on American museums. 

In service to the historical and cultural community, Bunch has served on the advisory boards of several professional organizations.  Among his many awards, he was appointed by President George W. Bush to the Commission for the Preservation of the White House in 2002 and reappointed by President Barack Obama in 2009.

Bunch has received honorary doctorates from an array of Universities including: Harvard University, Princeton University, Brown University, Dominican University, Roosevelt University, Rutgers University, Northwestern University, and Georgetown University.

Born in the Newark, N.J. area, Bunch has held numerous teaching positions across the country including American University; the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth; and The George Washington University.  He received undergraduate and graduate degrees from American University in African American and American history. 

He is married to Maria Marable Bunch, a museum educator.  They have two daughters, Sarah and Katie.