Lonnie G. Bunch III has been tapped to becoming the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, making history as the first Black leader in the institute’s 173-year history.

According to the Washington Post, Bunch’s nomination to the post was approved on Tuesday morning, and he will succeed David J. Skorton who will end his tenure on June 15.

Bunch, 66, is best known as the founding director of the iconic National Museum of African American History and culture.

“I have such a profound love of the Smithsonian,” he said. “I want to help the world see the Smithsonian as I do, as a place that matters, with gifted people who just want to serve their country.” 

In his new role, he will be responsible for the $1.5 billion annual budget that supports the 19 museums, nine research centers and the National Zoo.

“We are happy that the first African American is going to be the Smithsonian secretary,” David Rubenstein, chairman of the Smithsonian’s Board of Regents, which approved Bunch’s appointment told the Post. “He was so overwhelmingly better, it wasn’t really close.”

“He has achieved one of the most impressive accomplishments at the Smithsonian in decades, building the African American Museum from scratch,” Rubenstein added.

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