Smithsonian Museum of American History Names Woman to Top Post

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has a new director, who will be the first woman to hold the position in its 54-year history: Anthea M. Hartig, currently the executive director and chief executive of the California Historical Society.

Ms. Hartig begins her new role in Washington, overseeing 262 employees and a budget of nearly $50 million, on Feb. 18. She will be the first woman to be director since the museum opened in 1964, the Smithsonian said. In her new role, in 2019 and 2020, she will open three exhibitions that are part of the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative, #BecauseOfHerStory. She will also complete the revitalization of the museum’s 120,000-square-foot west wing.

“Anthea’s record as a leader and coalition builder, as well as a student and champion of history, combine to make her an ideal choice to lead one of our most revered museums,” David Skorton, secretary of the Smithsonian, said.

“As we turn the page on a new chapter of the National Museum of American History, we are fortunate to welcome a director whose bold leadership is perfectly suited for the time in which we live and the museum’s increasingly inclusive and innovative programming,” he said.

Ms. Hartig, described by the Smithsonian as a public historian, professor, author and city planner, led the California Historical Society for seven years. Before that, she was director of the Western Region, National Trust for Historic Preservation. She also currently serves as the cultural resources specialist on the California State Park and Recreation Commission.

She succeeds John Gray, who retired as museum director in May after six years. The museum has been led in the intervening months by Susan Fruchter, deputy director.

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