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Event is Part of the Museum’s Popular “Read the Revolution” Speaker Series

A Fool’s Errand: Creating the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the Age of Bush, Obama, and Trump on Sale Sept. 24 

Lonnie G. Bunch III, the newly appointed 14th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, will make his only public appearance in Philadelphia as part of a national book tour at the Museum of the American Revolution on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019 at 6 p.m. He will discuss his forthcoming book A Fool’s Errand: Creating the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the Age of Bush, Obama, and Trump (Smithsonian Books, Sept. 24, 2019).

The book tells a deeply personal tale of the triumphs and challenges of bringing to life the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), the Smithsonian’s 19th museum and one that would attract more than four million visitors during its first two years. The book goes on sale Sept. 24, the third anniversary of the museum’s opening.

The tour kicks off in Chicago on Sept. 19 and takes him to seven cities in the U.S. in 2019, with more dates in 2020 to be announced. For more information about the tour, visit

At the Museum, Bunch will be joined onstage for a lively conversation with Dr. R. Scott Stephenson, President and CEO of the Museum of the American Revolution, followed by a question-and-answer session with the audience. This evening program includes an opportunity to purchase a book signed by the author.

This event takes place as part of the Museum’s Read the Revolution Speaker Series, which brings celebrated authors and historians to the Museum for lively discussions of their work. The series is based on the Museum’s national Read the Revolution bi-monthly e-newsletter, which has more than 50,000 subscribers and features excerpts from thought-provoking books to inspire learning about the American Revolution.

Other events in the series include:

  • Maya Jasanoff discussing Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019
  • T.H. Breen discussing The Will of the People: The Revolutionary Birth of America (Belknap Press, Sept. 2019) on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019
  • Stephen Brumwell discussing Turncoat: Benedict Arnold and the Crisis of American Liberty(Yale University Press, May 2018) on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020
  • Vincent Brown discussing Tacky’s Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War (Belknap Press, January 2020) on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020
  • Caitlin Fitz discussing Our Sister Republics: The United States in an Age of American Revolutions (W.W. Norton, Liveright, 2016) on Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Tickets are $20 for general admission, $15 for Museum members, and $10 for students/teachers/museum professionals (with ID). Tickets do not include Museum admission. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

About the Book
A Fool’s Errand is the story of how one man was tasked with leading the team that created a preeminent cultural institution to document the African American story and show how that story is the quintessential American story. This inside account of how Bunch planned and managed more than a decade of work leading up to the opening of the museum. This story informs and inspires not only readers working in museums, educational institutions and activist groups, but also those in the nonprofit and business worlds who wish to understand how to succeed—and do it spectacularly—in the face of major political and financial challenges. Outlining the challenges of choosing a construction site, commissioning a team of architects, raising more than $400 million, designing exhibitions and building a collection of nearly 40,000 objects, Bunch also delves into his personal struggles including the stress of a high-profile undertaking.

About the Author     
Lonnie G. Bunch III is the founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, and now Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Prior to becoming the director, he served as the president of the Chicago Historical Society and as the associate director for curatorial affairs at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Bunch is also co-author of The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden (Smithsonian Books, 2000) and From No Return: The 221-Year Journey of the Slave Ship São José (Smithsonian Books, 2017).

About the National Museum of African American History and Culture 
Since opening Sept. 24, 2016, the National Museum of African American History and Culture has welcomed more than 6 million visitors. Occupying a prominent location next to the Washington Monument on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the nearly 400,000-square-foot museum is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive cultural destination devoted exclusively to exploring, documenting and showcasing the African American story and its impact on American and world history. For more information about the museum, visit, follow @NMAAHC on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, or call Smithsonian information at (202) 633-1000.

About Museum of the American Revolution
The Museum of the American Revolution explores the dramatic, surprising story of the American Revolution through its unmatched collection of Revolutionary-era weapons, personal items, documents, and works of art. Immersive galleries, powerful theater experiences, and digital touchscreens bring to life the diverse array of people who created a new nation against incredible odds. Visitors gain a deeper appreciation for how this nation came to be and feel inspired to consider their role in the ongoing promise of the American Revolution. Located just steps away from Independence Hall, the Museum serves as a portal to the region’s many Revolutionary sites, sparking interest, providing context, and encouraging exploration. The Museum, which opened on April 19, 2017, is a private, non-profit, and non-partisan organization. For more information, visit  or call 877.740.1776.