The recently-appointed secretary of the Smithsonian Institution will visit Louisville this week, touring the city’s African American heritage museum and speaking at the University of Louisville on the impact such museums have on the world.
Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch will start his visit on Wednesday, talking about the National Museum of African American History and Culture with U of L President Neeli Bendapudi. Later that night, Bunch will tour the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage and attend a reception. Bunch will return to U of L for his final event Thursday: he’ll speak about the NMAAHC’s impact on the national conversation about race for the university’s Global Humanities Lecture.
Simona Bertacco, the Director of Graduate Studies at U of L’s Comparative Humanities department, said this is the first time the school has featured a guest from the Smithsonian.
“This is a huge and extraordinary privilege,” Bertacco said. “This is a wonderful space for reflection and for the discussion on the state of the humanities; not just at U of L, but in general.”
Bunch was appointed secretary in June, putting him in charge of 19 museums, 21 libraries and other Smithsonian-affiliated centers across the globe. The NMAAHC he helped open in 2016 now boasts a collection of nearly 37,000 artifacts and an annual budget of $51.3 million, according to the most recent fact sheet on the museum.