Dr. Richard Kurin
Dr. Richard Kurin serves as the Smithsonian Institution’s Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture with responsibility for most of its museums including the National Museum of American History, the National Museum of the American Indian, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the Freer and Sackler Galleries, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, the Anacostia Community Museum, the National Museum of African Art, the National Postal Museum, and others including the soon to be built National Museum of African American History and Culture. He also oversees research and outreach programs, including the Smithsonian’s Traveling Exhibition Service, The Smithsonian Associates, the Smithsonian Channel, and the Smithsonian Affiliates—a network of 168 museums across the U.S.
A former Fulbright-Hays fellow who has conducted most of his research in India and Pakistan, Kurin earned his Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the University of Chicago, and taught at The Johns Hopkins University Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. He is the author of Hope Diamond: The Legendary History of a Cursed Gem, and Reflections of a Cultural Broker: A View from the Smithsonian, as well as numerous other books and scholarly articles. He served on the U.S. Commission for UNESCO, has been the keynote speaker for the International Council of Museums, and delivered the founder’s lecture for Harvard University’s Peabody Museum. He first worked for the Smithsonian in 1976 for the Bicentennial of the U.S. For decades he directed the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, responsible for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival held every summer on the National Mall, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and other cultural programs and products that have won Grammy, Emmy, Academy, and Webby awards. He’s worked with all sorts of cultural figures, from Pete Seeger, Yo-Yo Ma, Mickey Hart, and Bernice Johnson Reagon to the Aga Khan and the Dali Lama. He helped draft an international treaty on safeguarding the world’s living cultural heritage now ratified by over 100 nations. He has produced major events for the Atlanta Olympics, the Smithsonian’s 150th anniversary, the opening of the World War II Memorial, the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian, and programs for numerous presidential inaugurals, including that of President Obama. He represents the Smithsonian on the President’s Committee for the Arts and Humanities, the White House Historical Association and numerous other boards. Currently he is developing a major international museum professional training initiative and also leading U.S. efforts to help Haiti rescue and recover its cultural heritage damaged and endangered in the devastating January earthquake.
Dr. Valerie Neal
Dr. Valerie Neal was lead curator on the transfer of the space shuttle Discovery from NASA to the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum collection in April 2012. She also oversees the Post-Apollo Human Space Flight Collections for the museum. She spent a decade as a writer, editor, and manager for some 50 NASA publications on shuttle and Spacelab missions, the Hubble Space Telescope, space sciences and NASA history. She also participated in underwater astronaut-training activities and worked on the mission management support team for four shuttle missions. Dr. Neal joined the Smithsonian in 1989 and has led the opening of two major exhibitions, Space Race and Where Next Columbus? She also led the effort to restore the Space Shuttle Enterprise where it was the centerpiece of the collection until the arrival of Discovery. Her publications include two edited books on space exploration, Spaceflight: A Smithsonian Guide and Where Next, Columbus? The Future of Space Exploration. She is currently writing a book and preparing an exhibition on the space shuttle era.
Dr. Paul Ceruzzi
Dr. Paul Ceruzzi is a curator of aerospace electronics and computing at the National Air & Space Museum. His work includes research, writing, planning exhibits, collecting artifacts, and lecturing on the subjects of microelectronics, computing, and control as they apply to the practice of air and space flight. Before joining the staff he taught the history of technology at Clemson University in South Carolina. He is the author or co-author of several books on the history of computing and related topics including A History of Modern Computing; Reckoners: The Prehistory of The Digital Computer; and Beyond the Limits: Flight Enters the Computer Age. Dr. Ceruzzi has worked on several of the museum’s exhibits, including The Global Positioning System: A New Constellation, Beyond the Limits: Flight Enters the Computer Age; Space Race; and How Things Fly.
Dr. Jacquelyn Serwer
Dr. Jacquelyn Serwer is Chief Curator of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Prior to joining the Smithsonian she was chief curator at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Her research specialties include American Art and African American Art from the 19th century to the present. Dr. Sewer is currently working on building a vast collection for the new museum, the Smithsonian’s 19th. The museum will have space devoted to history with a focus on slavery and freedom, segregation and civil rights and cultural traditions focusing on music, sports, visual arts, community, as well as an interactive children's center. The displays will vary from the delicate lace shawl given to Harriet Tubman by England's Queen Victoria, Louis Armstrong's trumpet, the dress Rosa Parks was carrying when she was arrested, a flag for the black soldiers who liberated San Juan Hill during the Spanish American War, and the costume of Glinda the Good Witch from the 1970s movie The Wiz. The museum’s vision is to use African American history and culture as a lens through which we can all see what it means to be an American.
Dr. Jeffrey Post
Dr. Jeffrey Post is a Geologist and Curator-in-Charge of the Gems and Minerals Collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. From 1989 to 1994 he was Chairman of the Department of Mineral Sciences and is now Curator of the National Gem and Mineral Collection. Dr. Post was instrumental in the design and opening of the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals. The Smithsonian’s National Gem Collection is the world’s foremost collection of gems and jewelry, boasting more than 10,000 pieces including superb specimens of virtually every variety of gemstone. The collection is used for scientific research, education programs, and public exhibitions. Every year hundreds of specimens are loaned to scientists around the world for research projects in geology, materials science, health, chemistry, physics and more. The collection traces its origins to the minerals that were bequeathed by James Smithson, along with the money to establish the Smithsonian Institution, over 150 years ago. Unfortunately, the Smithson collection was destroyed in a tragic fire in 1865, but the gem and mineral collection has grown ever since. Prior to joining the Smithsonian, Dr. Post was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Department of Geological Sciences at Harvard University. He is the author of many scientific research publications and books including the beautifully illustrated The National Gem Collection featuring the wonders of the mineral kingdom.