The Smithsonian now has its first religion curator since the 1890s

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National Museum of American History

Peter Manseau was born for this job.

The son of a priest and a nun, Manseau was meant to be a scholar making sense of religion. Now his job, as the Smithsonian’s first curator of religion in more than a century, is to remind Americans of our nation’s religious history, in all its diversity, messiness, import and splendor.

“You can’t tell the story of America,” he said, “without the role of religion in it.”

Manseau poses beside large iron bell

Peter Manseau (Nikki Kahn /The Washington Post)

The Smithsonian … hired Manseau to curate new exhibits on American religious history and to collect important religious objects to add to the museum’s expansive holdings. In this new position, underwritten by a $5 million grant from the nonprofit Lilly Endowment, he’ll lead a five-year series of events and exhibitions. The position was last held by someone in the 1890s, Manseau said.

Manseau eagerly describes the items he will place on display in his first exhibit, on religion in early America, which will open at the National Museum of American History in late June [2017.]

Read Julie Zauzner’s entire interview with Manseau for The Washington Post.

Posted: 28 October 2016
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