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Lonnie Bunch

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Lonnie Bunch


American University

November 18, 1952 Newark, New Jersey, United States (

The BET Honors Award for Education

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Lonnie G. Bunch III (born November 18, 1952) is an American educator and historian. He has spent most of his career as a history museum curator and administrator. He is the founding director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. Bunch previously served as president and director of the Chicago History Museum (Chicago Historical Society) from 2000 to 2005 In the 1980s, he was the first curator at the California African American Museum, and then a curator at the Smithsonian's American History Museum, where in the 1990s, he rose to head curatorial affairs.


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A conversation with lonnie bunch

Personal life and education

Lonnie Bunch III was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1952. He grew up in Belleville, New Jersey, where his family were the only African Americans in their neighborhood. His grandfather, a former sharecropper, moved into the area as one of the first black dentists in the region, and Bunch's father and mother were school teachers. As a child, he experienced racism from white teenagers in his neighborhood. Bunch credits his childhood experiences with local Italian immigrants and his reading of biographies as a youth with inspiring him to study history. Bunch wanted to give a voice to those who were "anonymous" or not written about. In 2011 Bunch reflected on the early exposures: "I was in junior high and we were reading biographies of historic figures. I remember one on Gen. ‘Mad Anthony’ Wayne, and one on Clara Barton and Dorothea Dix. I thought, ‘Were there no histories of black people?’ One day, I was going through my grandfather’s trunk and I found a book about black soldiers in the First World War. I devoured it."

Bunch met Maria Marable in graduate school; they would eventually marry and she became Maria Marable-Bunch. The couple have two daughters.


He graduated from Belleville High School in 1970. Bunch attended Howard University but transferred to American University, where he earned his B.A. and M.A. in American history and African history. He earned his Phd. in history in 1979.

Professional career

Bunch started working at the Smithsonian Institution while he was working on his Ph.D. After graduating, he was hired as a history professor at the University of Maryland. In 1983, he became the first curator at the California African American Museum. He worked at the National Museum of American History from 1989 until 1994 as a curator. Lonnie Bunch is an educator who was a Professor at the University of Maryland. He was promoted to Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs at the museum before leaving in 2000 to become the president of one of the nation's oldest museums in history, the Chicago Historical Society, from 2001-2005. In Chicago he led a successful capital campaign, and promoted outreach to diverse communities. One noted exhibit, Teen Chicago, focused on teenager life. In 2005, Bunch was named the director of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture. He served on the Commission for the Preservation of the White House during the George W. Bush administration and was reappointed to the Commission by President Obama in 2010

Exhibits and research

He curated the National Museum of American History exhibition "The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden." The exhibition was curated, built and opened within eight months.

Notable awards

  • Jackie Robinson Society Community Recognition Award, 2011
  • References

    Lonnie Bunch Wikipedia