Lonnie Bunch to become new Smithsonian Institution leader

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Lonnie Bunch to become new Smithsonian Institution leader
FILE - In this Sept. 21, 2017, file photo, Lonnie Bunch, director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, talks about the museum's first year and his vision for the future of the exhibits, in Washington. Bunch was named May 28, 2019, as the 14th Smithsonian Secretary by the Smithsonian's board of regents. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The founding director of the Smithsonian’s museum about African American history will now lead the entire system of museums and parks.

The Smithsonian Institution on Monday named Lonnie Bunch as its 14th secretary. Bunch was the first director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

He’ll now lead the world’s largest museum, education and research complex, with 19 museums and the National Zoological Park. Bunch becomes the first African American to lead the Smithsonian, beginning his new position June 16. He’ll be replaced as interim director by Spencer Crew.

Bunch was hired in 2005 and shepherded the collection of more than 40,000 items and the creation of the museum on the National Mall. It opened in 2016.