Conversations with Crosby is an ongoing series of discussions with special guests on the importance of our cultural institutions in preserving heritage and sharing ideas.
IMLS Director Crosby Kemper will welcome the 14th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, Lonnie G. Bunch III, to discuss the depth and diversity of American stories, what being a custodian of cultural heritage means today, and how museums and libraries can help strengthen the fabric of our communities at a critical point in the nation’s history.
Secretary Bunch previously served as the founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), an institution with which IMLS shares a unique partnership. NMAAHC and IMLS’s Museum Grants for African American History and Culture were both authorized by the National Museum of African American History and Culture Act. Together, they have helped African American museums throughout the U.S. preserve and share the strength and breadth of the African American experience.
Lonnie G. Bunch III
Lonnie G. Bunch III is the 14th Secretary of the Smithsonian. He assumed his position June 16, 2019. As Secretary, he oversees 19 museums, 21 libraries, the National Zoo, numerous research centers, and several education units and centers.
Previously, Bunch was the founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Occupying a prominent location next to the Washington Monument, the nearly 400,000-square-foot National Museum of African American History and Culture is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive cultural destination devoted exclusively to exploring, documenting, and showcasing the African American story and its impact on American and world history.
A widely published author, Bunch has written on topics ranging from the black military experience, the American presidency and all-black towns in the American West to diversity in museum management and the impact of funding and politics on American museums. His most recent book, A Fool’s Errand: Creating the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the Age of Bush, Obama, and Trump, which chronicles the making of the museum that would become one of the most popular destinations in Washington. His full biography is available on the Smithsonian website.
Crosby Kemper is the sixth director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. He was commissioned by the White House on January 24, 2020, following his confirmation by the United States Senate. IMLS, an independent government agency, is the primary source of federal support for the nation's museums and libraries.
Kemper is a dedicated advocate for education and learning for people of all ages and backgrounds. He comes to IMLS from the Kansas City Public Library, where as director, he established the library as one of the city’s leading cultural destinations and a hub of community engagement. Kemper also recently served as chair of the board of directors of the Schools, Health, & Libraries Broadband Coalition, which supports open, affordable broadband connections for local community organizations. His full biography is available on the IMLS website.