Lisa Sasaki in a blue dress with a red necklace

Lisa Sasaki

Interim Director, Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum

Lisa Sasaki is the interim director of the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum. The new museum was established by Congress in late 2020 as part of the Smithsonian. Sasaki was appointed interim director in March 2021, and she has temporarily left her post as director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. 

The Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum advances the understanding of women’s contributions to various fields throughout history that have influenced the direction of the United States. Sasaki is guiding the museum’s collaboration efforts with other museums and educational institutions to expand scholarly research, public programs, digital content, collections and more in recognition of diverse perspectives on women’s history and contributions. 

As director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center from 2016 until 2021, Sasaki provided vision, leadership and support for Asian American and Pacific Islander initiatives across the Institution. Sasaki also served as acting director of the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum from 2018 until 2019.

Before joining the Smithsonian, Sasaki was the director of the Audience and Civic Engagement Center at the Oakland Museum of California from 2012 until 2016. Sasaki was also the director of program development at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, the museum curator at the Southeastern Colorado Heritage Center in Pueblo and an assistant collections manager at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

Sasaki earned her bachelor’s degree in history and archaeology from Cornell University and her master’s degree in anthropology from the University of Denver. She served as president of the Western Museums Association’s board of directors and as a member of the American Alliance of Museums’ Facing Change working group, the Center for the Future of Museums’ Horizon Initiative steering committee and the advisory council for the Council of Jewish American Museums. She frequently guest lectured for the museum studies graduate programs and has also lectured internationally for ICOM-China and the Museums and Galleries of Queensland.

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