Profile profile for HartigA

Anthea M. Hartig, Ph.D.

Elizabeth MacMillan Director

Anthea M. Hartig is the Elizabeth MacMillan Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and the first woman to hold the position since the museum opened in 1964. Hartig oversees 257 employees, a budget of more than $40 million and a collection that includes 1.8 million objects and more than 3 shelf-miles of archives. She officially began her tenure Feb. 18, 2019.

Hartig will open three new exhibitions that are powerful contributors to the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s ratification granting women the right to vote. The completion of the museum’s 120,000-square-foot west wing, with the dynamic exhibition “Entertaining America” set to open in 2021, is another priority, along with multiple other new exhibitions and programs that Hartig will help present to the museum’s over 4 million annual visitors.  

An award-winning public historian and cultural heritage expert, Hartig is dedicated to making the nation’s richly diverse history accessible and relevant. A third-generation native of Southern California, she grew up in the greater Pomona Valley. Before joining the Smithsonian, she served as the executive director and CEO of the California Historical Society (CHS) in San Francisco. During her tenure, Hartig reinvigorated the organization by raising over $20 million to quadruple the CHS’s annual budget. Under her leadership, CHS doubled its staff, created over 30 exhibitions, created its digital library and created the Teaching California initiative, a free online history portal for K–12 students that brings the archive into the classroom. She also served as the director of the Western Region for the National Trust for Historic Preservation from 2005 to 2011, and has been involved in historic preservation and public history projects since the 1990s. She earned her doctorate and master’s degrees in history at the University of California, Riverside, her bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Los Angeles and studied as an undergraduate and graduate student at the College of William and Mary.

The National Museum of American History, which opened in 1964, houses some of the Smithsonian’s best-known treasures: the Star-Spangled Banner, the flag that inspired the words for the National Anthem; the hat worn by President Abraham Lincoln the night he was assassinated; the writing desk used by Thomas Jefferson as he drafted the Declaration of Independence; the Woolworth lunch counter that was the site of the 1960 student sit-in in Greensboro, North Carolina; and Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers from the movie The Wizard of Oz.

Hartig succeeds John Gray, who served as the museum’s director from 2012 to 2018.