This place makes an impression on people

Secretary Bunch checks in after his first two weeks on the job.

Bunch stands on steps at east door of the Castle

Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III at the East Door of the Smithsonian Castle, May 27, 2019, the day his election was announced. (Photo by Jaclyn Nash)

It’s been said on more than one occasion that the Smithsonian includes “everything under the sun.” My past two weeks serving as Secretary have reinforced that, if anything, that sentiment is an understatement. Our breathtaking array of museums, research centers, libraries, archives, educational centers, and collections means that even after a lifetime at the Smithsonian, you’ll never stop learning.

My career here – spanning three museums and four decades – has borne this out. The mind-boggling achievements of scientific innovation at the National Air and Space Museum, the complexity of the American story at the National Museum of American History, and the joyous, collaborative effort to build the National Museum of African American History and Culture from the ground up have all been exhilarating chapters of my journey of discovery.

Time after time, I’ve been amazed by the depth and breadth of our work across so many disciplines. I’ve been proud to watch the Institution evolve over the course of my time here, becoming more and more a national hub of scholarship, creativity, and service. And in this new role, I’m excited to keep discovering, sharing, and building together.

The Smithsonian has been a formative place for me, both professionally and personally. I met my wife Maria here, and we sent our daughter to the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center. I’ve had some of my most thrilling moments as a scholar here. Point is, this place makes an impression on people.

And it’s our people who make me so confident in the future of this Institution. Staff, contractors, volunteers, everyone who works here has made this the extraordinary place it is today and prepared us to thrive in the coming decades. The more I learn of this Institution and the more people I meet, the more optimistic I grow about where we’re headed. With your help, the Smithsonian will remain an institution visited, venerated and valued, a place that helps our visitors understand their lives and the world around them. At the same time, we are primed and ready to take advantage of new opportunities. Together, will move forward thoughtfully and nimbly; we will test and apply innovative ideas; we will reflect and serve the country as it changes.

Even in my brief time at the helm, I have already been touched by the eagerness and thoughtfulness of staff who come forward and share their ideas for the future. To all who have aided me in this transition, I am grateful for your help. Know that I will continue to rely on your partnership throughout my time in this office.

I look forward to meeting more of you in the weeks and months to come and working with you to ensure that this proud American Institution continues to grow and flourish.

Posted: 1 July 2019
About the Author:

Lonnie G. Bunch III is the 14th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. He was the founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and is the first historian to be Secretary of the Institution.

2 Responses to This place makes an impression on people
    • Beatrice Whitehead
    • I believe that because Mr. Lonnie Bunch has already made history at the Smithsonian. I feel that he will be more intune as to what is needed to go forward. I have read and seen what he has accomplished since he came here. His biggest and grandest accomplishment was the being the founding Director of the most beautiful Museum from the outside and so much information on the inside of a Museum that all race creed and color are still coming in droves to see it. He has come along way.

      Congratulation !! I am praying for the best.

    • Wanda A Smith
    • We, all people, not just Americans, are truly blessed to have such a dedicated and visionary person at the helm of the SI. W. A. Smith