Bill Tompkins
Under Secretary for Museums and Culture

William G. Tompkins

Director, National Collections Program

Bill Tompkins has been the founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Collections Program since 1993. Tompkins serves as principal advisor to Smithsonian senior management, unit directors and staff on matters relating to collections management. He is responsible for the development, administration and implementation of the Smithsonian’s collections management policy, including the review and approval of individual Smithsonian collecting unit policies to ensure collections are acquired, maintained and used according to Smithsonian policy, professional standards and legal obligations.

Working closely with Smithsonian leadership, Tompkins develops long-term strategies, priorities, policies and plans that strategically address Institution-wide collections needs, including the allocation of central collections care resources. Tompkins strives to improve the overall stewardship and management of Smithsonian collections by providing central leadership, policy oversight, strategic planning and support of Smithsonian-wide collections initiatives.

Before becoming director, Tompkins served as assistant director of the Smithsonian’s Office of the Registrar from 1990 to 1993. Previously, Tompkins was the collections manager of the National Numismatic Collection at the National Museum of American History, where he was responsible for the management and preservation of collections totaling approximately 1 million objects. With more than 35 years of experience in the museum profession, Tompkins lectures frequently on museum collections management, policy standards and strategic planning at professional meetings, workshops and university museum studies programs.

A native of New York, Tompkins earned his master’s degree at the State University of New York at Albany (1982) and bachelor’s degree in history at Hartwick College (1979) in Oneonta, New York. 

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