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A Fool's Errand

Nonfiction: History, Social Science, Memoir
Unabridged   12 hour(s)
Publication date: 01/28/2020

F O R T H C O M I N G ! Available January

A Fool's Errand

Creating the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the Age of Bush, Obama, and Trump

Available from major retailers or BUY FROM AMAZON
Audio CD ISBN:9781684578351
Digital Download ISBN:9781684578344


Founding Director Lonnie Bunch's deeply personal tale of the triumphs and challenges of bringing the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture to life. His story is by turns inspiring, funny, frustrating, quixotic, bittersweet, and above all, a compelling listen.

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Product Description

In its first four months of operation, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture surpassed one million visits and quickly became a cherished, vital monument to the African American experience. And yet this accomplishment was never assured. In A Fool's Errand, founding director Lonnie Bunch tells his story of bringing his clear vision and leadership to realize this shared dream of many generations of Americans.

Outlining the challenges of site choice, architect selection, building design, and the compilation of an unparalleled collection of African American artifacts, Bunch also delves into his personal struggles—especially the stress of a high-profile undertaking—and the triumph of establishing such an institution without mentors or guidebooks to light the way. His memoir underscores his determination to create a museum that treats the black experience as an essential component of every American's identity.

This inside account of how Bunch planned, managed, and executed the museum's mission informs and inspires not only listeners working in museums, cultural 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, structural, and financial challenges.


“Seamlessly weaves the personal and political work that went into envisioning, planning, funding, building, and opening the museum.” —Library Journal Starred Review

"Like the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History itself, its inaugural director’s memoir tells a challenging and ultimately inspiring story of struggle, perseverence, and uplift." —Booklist

Author Bio

Lonnie G. Bunch III is founding director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and now secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Bunch is coauthor of The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden and From No Return: The 221-Year Journey of the Slave Ship São José.