Lonnie Bunch Installed as 14th Secretary

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Lonnie G. Bunch III was installed as the fourteenth Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution on November 1, 2019 at 3:00 p.m. in the Arts and Industries Building. Hon. John G. Roberts, Jr., Chief Justice of the United States and Chancellor of the Smithsonian, presided over the ceremony. Bunch is the first African American leader in the institution's 173-year history. Bunch is also the first historian to take the position. The ceremony began with a Presentation of the Colors by the Smithsonian Honor Guard and the singing of the National Anthem by singer, songwriter and Washington, D.C., native Kenny Lattimore. Welcoming remarks were made by David Rubenstein, chair of the Smithsonian Board of Regents and Steve Case, chair-elect. Eleanor Harvey, senior curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, welcomed the Secretary on behalf of the Smithsonian's staff and volunteers. Next came remarks from former Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton, who retired from the position in June. After delivering brief remarks, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr,. presented Bunch with the ceremonial key to the Smithsonian Castle, a symbol of the Office of the Secretary of the Smithsonian. Bunch's 15-minute installation address followed the presentation. In his remarks, he told the story of a trip his family took in the 1960s from their home in New Jersey to visit relatives in the still-segregated South. "On the return, my family pulled into Washington and parked in front of the Smithsonian," Bunch said. "Then my dad explained that I could visit the Smithsonian and not worry about being turned away because of race." Regent Risa Lavizzo-Mourey closed the ceremony followed by Kenny Lattimore performing the Black National Anthem "Lift Every Voice and Sing."


  • Bunch, Lonnie G
  • Roberts, John G 1955-
  • Rubenstein, David M (8/11/1949- )
  • Case, Stephen McConnell 8/21/1958
  • Skorton, David J
  • Harvey, Eleanor Jones
  • Lavizzo-Mourey, Risa 9/25/1934-
  • Board of Regents
  • Arts and Industries Building


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Bunch is incorrectly identified as the "first museum director" to take the position of Secretary in Washingtonian Magazine. Secretary Spencer F. Baird and Secretary Alexander Wetmore both served as director of the former United Station National Musuem (USNM).
  • SI Email Announcements 9172019
  • Elliot Williams, "Lonnie G. Bunch Is Now Officially the Smithsonian's 14th Secretary," Washingtonian Magazine, November 1, 2019.

Contact information

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


November 1, 2019


  • Rites and ceremonies
  • Secretaries
  • Historians
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Personnel management
  • Honor guard
  • Employees
  • Museums
  • History
  • Racism
  • Special events
  • Installation
  • African Americans--History
  • Smithsonian Institution--Employees
  • Museum directors
  • Ceremonies

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