Lonnie Bunch, the current head of the African American History Museum will be the new man in charge of all of the Smithsonian portfolio. He will become only the 14th person to hold the title in the 173 year history of the organization. Announced today, Bunch will manage the 19 museums, the National Zoo, and 21 libraries, overseeing a budget of approximately $1.5 billion annually.
Bunch was the leader in developing the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) back in 2016. The Smithsonian Board of Regents of Regents met earlier today, selecting Lonnie Bunch unanimously to serve as the next Smithsonian head. He has served the Smithsonian organization over 29 years and the board spoke highly of Bunch and how congress and the donors of the Smithsonian view him as a person and a leader.
For Bunch, the Smithsonian is more than a job. It is where he met his wife Maria and their daughter attended the children's programs while she was growing up. At the press conference this morning, Bunch said, "You’re going to make a historian cry. This is an emotional moment, because the Smithsonian means so much to me personally and professionally.”
Bunch had began the ground work for the NMAAHC back in 2005, and saw it bring in 2.4 million visitors it's first year. Those who visit the museum stay there longer than any other museum in the collection and is the 4th most-visited museum in the Smithsonian organization. Bunch called his time as the head of NMAAHC an experience, but said it is one he is ready to leave behind. He is ready to lead the Smithsonian, which will begin in July.