The January 2017 issue of Washingtonian, the magazine for the Washington DC region, named Lonnie Bunch as one of its “eleven locals whose commitment to helping others makes Washington a better place to live.” Usually the list is made up of wealthy philanthropists, sports figures, political leaders, and education reformers, so it was a nice surprise to see an historian who works at a museum named among its most benevolent in a city full of history and museums .
Lonnie Bunch is the founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened last fall and whose continuing popularity makes admission one of the hottest tickets in town. Bunch was previously the president of the Chicago Historical Society and curator at the National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of American History, and the California African American Museum, where I first met him twenty years ago when I was conducting research on jazz bands in 1920s Los Angeles. I’ve always enjoyed my encounters with him, which often happen as happy accidents through a last-minute invitation to dinner in Chicago, running into him during the Folklife Festival, or sharing a car ride with him to the airport in Charleston. So I was delighted when he agreed to write the foreword for my first book, Interpreting African American History and Culture at Museums and Historic Sites.
Washingtonian recognizes Bunch for his effort to find a spot on the Mall for the museum, raising much of the $270 million to match Congress’ contribution, and attracting donations from people across America. I also know him as a Continue reading →
The International Committee of Museum Management (InterCom) of the the International Council of Museums (ICOM) with be holding its annual meeting in Washington, DC from October 28-31, 2015, the first time it has held its meeting in the United States. InterCom works toward the development of sound museum management throughout the world, including the managerial aspects of policy formulation, legislation, and resource management. Registration is $350 ($150 for students) and early bird registration for $295 ends today (July 31).
This year’s conference focuses on three themes–The Sustainable Leader, The Enduring
Organization, and the Essential Museum–and plenary speakers include Lonnie Bunch, Founding Director, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture; Elaine Heumann Gurian, author and museum consultant; and Richard C. Harwood, Harwood Institute for Public Innovation. Sessions involve diverse topics from around the world and several caught my eye. I wonder what someone from Columbia has to say about museums as tourist attractions; how violence or civil unrest are affecting museums in Mexico, Denmark, and Minnesota (Minnesota??); or how the Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations in Turkey tackles the value of history and heritage in the contemporary world (how do you make thousands of years of history relevant?).
I’ll be there to expand my horizons and reporting out when I get a chance. It also looks like we’ll be having special tours of several museums in DC (it’s the behind-the-scenes experience at museums that lured me into this field) so that will be great fun. Hope to see you there!