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Weather cancels ASU talk by Smithsonian museum director


February 09, 2010

Due to heavy snow in the Washington, D.C., area, an Arizona State University lecture and classroom visits by the founding director of the Smithsonian Institution’s new National Museum of African American History have been canceled.

Lonnie Bunch, a public historian, author, curator and educator, was scheduled to discuss the challenge of creating a national museum during a Feb. 10 evening lecture at ASU’s Tempe campus. He also planned to attend several undergraduate classes, meeting with students and faculty, while in Arizona.

“It’s an unexpected disappointment, but after this weather disaster he will certainly enjoy Arizona when he does get here,” said Professor Stanlie James, faculty head for African and African American Studies in ASU’s School of Social Transformation.

James, along with associate professor of history Matthew C. Whitaker; Myles Lynk, a professor in ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law; and Quentin Wheeler, ASU vice president and dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, were co-hosts of the lecture.

“We are planning to reschedule,” said Rebecca Albrecht, director of special events in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Bunch was tapped in 2005 to head up the new National Museum of African American History and Culture — the Smithsonian’s 19th museum — which is scheduled to open in 2015 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

“In many ways, there are few things as powerful and as important as a people, as a nation that is steeped in its history,” said Bunch in a vision statement about the new museum. It “is not a museum that celebrates black history solely for black Americans. Rather, we see this history as America’s history. The museum will use African American history and culture as a lens into what it means to be an American.”

The National Museum of African American History and Culture was established by an Act of Congress. During the pre-building phase, the museum is producing publications, hosting public programs and assembling collections. It is presenting exhibitions at other museums across the country and at its own gallery at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. An array of interactive programs and educational resources is available on the museum’s Web site at http://nmaahc.si.edu.