Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III To Embark on National Book Tour

“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
August 19, 2019
News Release

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A Fools errand book cover

Lonnie G. Bunch III, the newly appointed 14th Secretary of the Smithsonian, will embark on a national tour to discuss his new book A Fool’s Errand: Creating the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the Age of Bush, Obama, and Trump. The tour kicks off in Chicago Sept. 19 and takes him to seven cities in the U.S. in 2019, with more dates in 2020 to be announced.

The book chronicles the strategies, the support systems and the coalitions Bunch put in place to build the Smithsonian’s 19th museum, one that would attract more than 4 million visitors during its first two years. The book goes on sale Sept. 24, the third anniversary of the museum’s opening. A public event will be held that day at the museum in Washington, D.C., in celebration of the anniversary.

During the tour stops, Bunch will discuss the book with high profile journalists and historians including Scott Pelley, Gayle King and Henry Louis “Skip” Gates. The schedule for the 2019 tour is:

  • Sept. 19 – Chicago History Museum, Chicago
  • Sept. 24 – The National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C.
    In conversation with Scott Pelley, correspondent for CBS News’ 60 Minutes
  • Oct. 1 – The Apollo Theater, New York City
    In conversation with Gayle King, co-host of CBS This Morning
  • Oct. 14 – The African American Museum in Philadelphia, a Smithsonian Affiliate (This event is private, but open to the media.)
  • Oct. 15 – The Museum of the American Revolution, Philadelphia
    In conversation with Scott Stephenson, museum president and chief executive
  • Oct. 23 – Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University, Boston
    In conversation with Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University
  • Oct. 24 – The Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
  • Nov. 16 – Nate Holden Theater, Los Angeles

Book tour tickets must be reserved at Interested media should RSVP 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  

Bunch is the founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and now Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Before becoming director of the museum, he served as the president of the Chicago Historical Society and the associate director for curatorial affairs at the Smithsonian's 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.

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