American History Museum names new Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs

Catherine Eagleton will oversee the ongoing transformation of the museum that includes renovating the building, enhancing the exhibition program and broadening the museum’s digital strategy to make its collections more accessible to the public.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has named Catherine Eagleton as its new associate director for curatorial affairs with responsibility for more than 130 curators, historians, collections managers and conservators at the nation’s history museum. Eagleton succeeds David K. Allison, a historian of information technology who has been the project director for a number of the museum’s signature exhibitions and who laid the groundwork to expand the museum’s curatorial strength. Allison will remain at the museum as a senior scholar until his planned retirement in 2019.

Head shot of Eagleton

Catherine Eagleton

Eagleton, who earned her doctorate at the University of Cambridge, brings a broad portfolio of expertise to the museum. Her role will be to strengthen the museum’s scholarly foundation, expand the public’s access to the museum’s collections and lead a division that has added 16 new curators and historians since 2013 across numerous specialties, including American business, medicine, music, numismatics and political history. Eagleton will join the museum Jan. 23 from the British Library, where she served as head of the Asian and African Collections.

Before joining the British Library, Eagleton was a curator of modern money at the British Museum, and at both institutions she managed cross-functional teams with scholars, designers, public interpreters and digital specialists. She has been an affiliated research scholar for 12 years at the University of Cambridge’s Whipple Museum of the History of Science and will continue that affiliation when she joins the museum. A musician, Eagleton plays the saxophone and flute among other instruments and performs in a jazz orchestra.

Among other  new curatorial hires at the museum are: Amanda B. Moniz, who earned her doctorate in history at the University of Michigan and is the museum’s David M. Rubenstein Curator of Philanthropy; Peter Manseau, the Lilly Endowment Curator of American Religious History, who earned his doctorate in religious history from Georgetown University; and Kathleen Franz, Curator of American Business History, whose doctorate in American Civilization is from Brown University. The museum has also hired staff to work on digitizing collections and in collections management and other curatorial support positions.

Posted: 11 January 2017
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