· He retired on October 1, 2007 as the director of the National Portrait Gallery after a 33-year career at the Smithsonian Institution.
· He was appointed in July 2000 as the Director of the National Portrait Gallery, the nation’s only museum of American biography and portraiture.
· Also directed National Museum of American History (Nov. 2001-Jan. 2003) - the first person to lead 2 Smithsonian museums at the same time.
· First joined Gallery’s staff in 1974 as chief historian & assistant director.
· Began program called Living Self Portraits in which he interviewed well-known personalities, like Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham
Left Portrait Gallery for 10 years (1990-2000) to hold several key positions in Smithsonian’s central admin, including deputy assistant secretary for external affairs and counselor to then-Secretary Michael Heyman.
· Organizer and chair of the Smithsonian’s 150th anniversary celebration.
Highlights of his tenure at National Portrait Gallery:
· Ensured Gilbert Stuart’s “Lansdowne” portrait of George Washington remains on permanent display by raising $30 million in 2002.
· Established awards program to honor service to & portrayal of presidency.
· Created first national portrait competition.
· Oversaw reopening of Nat’l Portrait Gallery, part of Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art & Portraiture, last July after extensive 6-yr renovation.
Authored or edited a number of books, including Abroad in America: Visitors to the New Nation, Champions of American Sport, Documentary History of the Supreme Court, Telling Lives: The Biographer’s Art, and A Gallery of Presidents, as well as entries in Dictionary of American Biography. Editor for the scholarly journal Biography, & led a group of DC-based biographers for 20 years.
In 1999, awarded Sec.’s Gold Medal for Distinguished Service. Serves on Nat’l D-Day Museum board of trustees; Represents Smithsonian on President’s Cmte on Arts/Humanities, W.H. Historical Assoc & Woodrow Wilson Center board.
Graduated summa cum laude from University of California at Berkeley. Woodrow Wilson fellow & a 5-Year Prize fellow in American history at Harvard Univ., where he taught colonial history, served as a tutor in the honors program, and performed research in American intellectual and cultural history.
Born in New York, but grew up in Los Angeles. Lives in
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