Editor's note: Cristián Samper was director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History from 2003 until July 2012, with the exception of being Acting Secretary of the Smithsonian from March 2007 until July 2008.
Cristián Samper (sahm-PAIR), a biologist and international authority on environmental policy, is the director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. As director of the National Museum of Natural History, Samper is responsible for the largest natural history collection in the world and a museum that welcomes more than 6 million visitors each year. Since his arrival in 2003, Samper reinvigorated the research staff by hiring new curators to replace retiring staff; built major new collections storage facilities and laboratories in Suitland, Md.; and raised more than $100 million to support new long-term exhibitions and programs, including the Encyclopedia of Life and the Sant Ocean Hall.