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Secretary of the Smithsonian Lonnie G. Bunch III is first guest on the newly launched International African American Museum’s Salon Marronage speaker series

Secretary Bunch and IAAM President and CEO Dr. Tonya Matthews will discuss how museums have become narrators of our collective journey and inspirations for future generations.

Charleston, S.C. — The International African American Museum (IAAM) is proud to announce a new dynamic speakers series, Salon Marronage, that promises to ignite community conversations and inspire change.

Dr. Tonya Matthews, president and CEO of IAAM, will launch the series with Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III, the 14th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Matthews and Secretary Bunch will explore museums’ vital role in preserving and narrating authentic stories and how museums can better represent diverse cultures, voices and perspectives.

The series will feature prominent and provocative artists, thought-leaders, and changemakers in conversation with Matthews.

Secretary Bunch became the Smithsonian’s first African American Secretary on June 16th, 2019, and is the first historian to serve in this position. He oversees 21 museums, 21 libraries, the National Zoo, numerous research centers, and several education units and centers. He is also developing two new museums—the National Museum of the American Latino and the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum.

Secretary Bunch was previously the founding director of the now-iconic National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, D.C. When he started in July 2005, he had one staff member, no collections, no funding and no site for the museum.

“It was clear that the public had a limited understanding of the arc of African American history. I felt that a portion of the exhibitions needed to provide a curated historical narrative,” Secretary Bunch wrote in his book A Fool’s Errand: Creating the National Museum of African American History and Culture In the Age of Bush, Obama, Trump.

“We found it necessary to provide frameworks that would help the visitor navigate the complexity of this history and also create opportunities for the audience to find familiar stories and events that made the museum more accessible,” he said.

Since opening in September 2016, the museum has welcomed more than 10 million visitors, expects to see 11 million in the coming weeks and has compiled a collection of 40,000 objects housed in the first green building on the National Mall, a significant number of which represent South Carolina’s deep African American history.

“Museums shoulder the responsibility of being the storytellers of a shared human experience, bridging the past, present and future,” said Matthews, CEO of IAAM since 2021. “Artifacts on display at the International African American Museum show tales of triumph, struggle and innovation of the African Diaspora. It connects generations and weaves a rich tapestry of knowledge.”

Tickets to this event are $18 for Members, $25 for General Admission and $10 for youth ages 6-16. but seating is limited. Visit IAAM’s websiteto reserve your spot today for this historic conversation.

  • Date: Thursday, June 27, 2024
  • Time: 6:00 p.m. EDT
  • Location: IAAM West Yard, 14 Wharfside Street, Charleston, S.C. 29401

The International African American Museum(IAAM) explores the impact of the African American journey on Charleston, the nation and the world, shining light and sharing stories of the diverse journeys, origins and achievements of descendants of the African Diaspora. Spread across 11 galleries and a memorial garden with art, objects, artifacts and multimedia interaction, IAAM is a champion of authentic, empathetic storytelling of American history. As a result, the museum will stand as one of the nation’s newest platforms for the disruption of institutionalized racism as it evolves today. IAAM’s mission is to honor the untold stories of the African American journey at the historically sacred site of Gadsden’s Wharf and beyond. For more information, please visit iaamuseum.org.





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