National Museum of American History Names Two Historians to Its Board

November 18, 2007

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History elected two prominent historians, Ellsworth H. Brown and Vicki Ruiz, to its advisory board effective Oct. 5. The Smithsonian’s Board of Regents approved the two candidates for three-year terms with the option of serving a second term.

The museum’s board was established in 1996 and is chaired by Richard Darman of The Carlyle Group. The board currently has 27 members, including historians, community business leaders and philanthropists. Members of the board advise the director on programs, exhibitions, facilities, development and finance.

“The addition of two notable historians to our board goes hand-in-hand with the intellectual transformation that the museum is undergoing to create a unique and inspiring interaction with history for our visitors,” said Brent D. Glass, director of the museum. “The museum welcomes both Brown and Ruiz, and I am confident that the museum will benefit from their insight and experience.”

Brown is the director of the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison, Wis., and is the former president and CEO of Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. He previously served as director of the Chicago Historical Society and president of the American Association of Museums. Brown was a member of the National Museum of American History’s Blue Ribbon Commission, as well as the Smithsonian Institution Council. The 2000 Blue Ribbon Commission made recommendations for improving the museum’s architecture and aesthetics. Many of the recommendations are being implemented during the museum’s renovation.

Ruiz is a professor of history and Chicano/Latino studies at the University of California, Irvine and the director of the university’s “Humanities Out There” outreach program. She earned a presidential nomination to the National Council on the Humanities and Latina magazine’s “Woman of the Year” award in 2000. She is the first Latina to serve as president of the Organization of American Historians and was president of the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians. She is a member of the National Humanities Council; National Council of the American Historical Association; and the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association, as well as secretary of the Labor and Working Class History Association and chair of the Carl Bode-Norman Holmes Pearson Prize of the American Studies Association.

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The National Museum of American History collects, preserves and displays American heritage in the areas of social, political, cultural, scientific and military history. Documenting the American experience from Colonial times to the present, the museum looks at growth and change in the United States. The museum is closed for major renovations and plans to re-open in summer 2008. For information about the museum, please visit http://americanhistory.si.edu.