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Richard Kurin  

Smithsonian Under Secretary for History, Art and Culture

Richard Kurin (born November 27, 1950), an American cultural anthropologist, museum official and author, is the Acting Provost and Under Secretary for Museums and Research at the Smithsonian Institution. He is a key member of the senior team managing the world’s largest museum and research complex with 6,500 employees and a $1.4 billion annual budget, caring for more than 139 million specimens, artifacts and artworks, working in 145 countries around the globe, hosting some 30 million visitors a year, and reaching hundreds of millions online and through the Smithsonian’s educational programs and media outreach. Kurin is particularly responsible for all of the national museums, scholarly and scientific research centers, and programs spanning science, history, art and culture.

Richard Kurin serves as the Smithsonian Institution’s Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture, with responsibility for most of its museums and many of its educational programs. He is an anthropologist and cultural historian, a former Fulbright fellow with a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. He is the author of several books, including Hope Diamond: The Legendary History of a Cursed Gem, and his scholarship and museological work have been recognized by the International Council of Museums, UNESCO, and Harvard’s Peabody Museum. Awarded the Smithsonian Secretary’s Gold Medal for Exceptional Service, he represents the Smithsonian on the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, the White House Historical Association, and numerous other boards.

Kurin has published scores of scholarly articles on cultural representation, intangible cultural heritage, the sociology and arts of India and Pakistan. His books have reached both popular and specialized audiences. The Smithsonian’s History of American in 101 Objects has been on a number of best-seller lists. It also resulted in a four-part documentary series on the Smithsonian Channel, “Seriously Amazing Objects,” a 24-part Telly Award-winning lecture series with The Great Courses entitled “Experiencing America: A Smithsonian Tour through American History,” and a MOOC on edX “Objects That Define America.” His book on the Hope diamond inspired a Smithsonian Channel documentary “Mystery of the Hope Diamond;” his work on Haiti resulted in the Smithsonian Channel documentary “Haiti’s Treasures: Out of the Rubble.”

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