Dr. Johnnetta Cole named Director of the National Museum of African Art, February 9, 2009

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  • On February 9, 2009 Richard Kurin, Under Secretary for History, Art and Culture, announced that Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole would become the new Director of the National Museum of African Art on March 1, 2009. Dr. Cole has worked with Smithsonian programs since the 1980s and served on the Scholarly Advisory Board of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture since its inception in 2003.
  • Dr. Cole continues in that position through March of 2017.
  • Prior to joining Smithsonian staff, Dr. Cole was Board Chair of the Johnnetta B. Cole Global Diversity and Inclusion Institute at Bennett College for Women to take over her role at the Smithsonian. Previously, Dr. Cole served as President of Bennett College, Presidential Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Women's Studies and Afro-American Studies at Emory University, and President of Spelman College. Dr. Cole earned a bachelor's degree in sociology from Oberlin College and a master's and doctoral degree in anthropology from Northwestern University. She has published several books and scholarly articles and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Anthropological Association.
  • Additionally, she chaired United Way of America and has worked on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's Committee on Transformational Diplomacy and on President Bill Clinton's Transition Team for Education, Labor, the Arts and Humanities.


  • Kurin, Richard 1950-
  • Cole, Johnnetta 1936-
  • National Museum of African Art (U.S.)
  • Museum of African Art (U.S.)


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Smithsonian Institution Email Announcements, Monday, February 9, 2009, 12:29 pm
  • "African Art Museum Gets New Chief," Washington Post, February 10, 2009, p. C03.

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2520, SIHistory@si.edu


February 9, 2009


  • Women
  • Art museums
  • Appointments
  • Personnel management
  • Anthropology
  • Employees
  • Museums
  • Art museum directors
  • Museum directors
  • Women--Employees
  • African Americans


Washington (D.C.)

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