American History Museum director to return to his roots

John Gray, the Elizabeth MacMillan Director of the National Museum of American History, has announced he will retire in May 2018. He has been director of the museum since July 2012.


head shot of Gray

John Gray, the Elizabeth MacMillan Director of the National Museum of American History

Under Gray’s leadership, the museum has focused successfully on sharing the most engaging, inclusive, and deeply meaningful American history to achieve its inspiring mission: helping people understand the past to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future.

To achieve this mission, Gray has been supported by an outstanding team at the museum. The museum has hired more than 20 new curators in the past five years—including four endowed positions—and has recruited the next generation of collections managers to care for and preserve the museum’s archives and collections for years to come.

Gray has overseen a complete reinvention of many facets of the museum’s work, including the renovation of its 120,000-square-foot West Wing. He and his staff developed an thematic framework for the museum organized around fundamental American ideals and ideas such as democracy, opportunity, and freedom. With the renovation of the building’s West Wing, the museum has opened world-class exhibitions focusing on innovation, invention, democracy, the peopling of the nation, and religion. New programs in food, music, and theater, along with a return of the Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and the Chamber Music Society to the recently renovated Hall of Music and the Coulter Performance Plaza, are increasing the influence of the museum both nationally and internationally.

Under Gray’s leadership, the museum’s development team have raised  $147 million, far exceeding their $120 million campaign goal. The museum’s board has expanded and has been re-energized to support the museum’s most important priorities.

Gray will be retiring to New Mexico where he will enjoy his family, his dog Charlie and the challenges of raising a new flock of chickens.

Posted: 7 November 2017
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