Agency history, 1980-

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  • Hatch, Josiah O
  • Reagon, Bernice Johnson 1942-
  • Simmons, Gwendolyn Zoharah
  • Sharpe, Elizabeth M
  • Taylor, Lonn 1940-
  • Weaver, James Merle
  • Cherkasky, Shirley E
  • Clapp, Rebecca B
  • Closter, Harold A
  • Kilkenny, Niani
  • Melendez, Manuel J
  • Sanderson, Geraldine E
  • Smithsonian Institution Division of Performing Arts


Agency History


  • This is an agency history. It does not describe actual records. The Smithsonian Institution Archives uses these histories as brief accounts of the origin, development, and functions of an office or administrative unit to set that unit in its historical context. To find information on record holdings, please double-click the highlighted field "Creator/Author", which will open on a brief view of relevant records.
  • Guide to the Smithsonian Archives, 1996
  • Annals of the Smithsonian Institution, 1992, 1995
  • Smithsonian Directory, 1997
  • In 1980 an Office of Public and Academic Programs was established at the National Museum of History and Technology, subsequently the National Museum of American History (NMAH). Josiah O. Hatch, a Special Assistant to the Director of the Museum, was assigned as Director of the Office. Hatch submitted reports for Public and Academic Programs to the Deputy Director of NMAH.
  • When the Smithsonian Institution's Division of Performing Arts was closed in 1983, part of its staff was reassigned to the Office of Public and Academic Programs. In 1984, the Office was reorganized as the Department of Public Programs. It included sections of exhibition production, education, the Program in Black American History, performances, publications, and the Office of Public Affairs. Hatch became its head as the Assistant Director for Public Programs. The next year, Lonn Taylor succeeded Hatch. In 1994 the office was renamed the Office of Public Services, and Harold A. Closter succeeded Taylor, serving 1995- .
  • The Office of Public Services is responsible for a variety of tasks associated with providing the public with opportunities for learning. It works with the Museum's other departments to produce exhibitions, audiovisual materials, and other educational materials such as scholarly publications, kits and guides, as well as information on various topics of interest that interpret NMAH exhibitions. The Office also sponsors or coordinates programs and performances using Museum collections; presents special programs on important aspects of American life and culture that cannot be exhibited through artifacts alone; and organizes colloquia, symposia, and lectures.
  • Staff has included Josiah O. Hatch, Director of the Office of Public and Academic Programs, 1980-1983, Assistant Director for Public Programs, 1984; Lonn Taylor, Deputy Assistant Director for Public Programs, 1984, Assistant Director, 1985- ; Harold A. Closter, Production Director, 1983-1986, Program Manager, 1987-1990, Deputy Assistant Director, 1991-1994, Director, 1995- ; Bernice Johnson Reagon, Director, Program in Black American History, 1983-1987; Gwendolyn Robinson, Director of the Program in Black American History, 1988-1991; Niani Kilkenny, Director, Program in Black American History, 1992- ; James Merle Weaver, Director of Performance Programs, 1983-1986; Shirley E. Cherkasky, Coordinator of Museum Programs, 1983- ; Elizabeth M. Sharpe, Education Specialist, 1985-1986, Deputy Assistant Director for Public Programs, 1987- ; Rebecca B. Clapp, Special Events Assistant, 1974, Special Events Officer, 1975; Geraldine E. Sanderson, Special Events Officer, 1976-1977; Public Information Officer, 1978; and Manuel J. Melendez, Performing Arts Production Specialist, 1984-1991.
  • For a history of the larger creating unit, refer to "Forms part of above."

Repository Loc.

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Capital Gallery, Suite 3000, MRC 507; 600 Maryland Avenue, SW; Washington, DC 20024-2520


  • 1984
  • 1980-


Museums and education


Mixed archival materials

Local number

SIA AH00146

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