White House appoints its first-ever Asian American Curator

White House appoints its first-ever Asian American CuratorWhite House appoints its first-ever Asian American Curator
via @MarkJWestpfahl (left), White House Historical Association (right)
Ryan General
24 days ago
Donna Hayashi Smith, a member of the White House’s Office of the Curator for over two decades, has been appointed as the new curator.
Key points:
  • The curator oversees the White House’s collection of historic artifacts, artwork and furniture.
  • Smith succeeds Lydia Tederick, becoming the first Asian American to hold the position.
  • She became acting chief curator in June, after Tederick’s retirement last year.
  • Smith is a respected authority on the White House’s vast collection of over 60,000 objects.
About Smith:
  • Originally from Wahiawa, Hawaii, Smith holds degrees in art history (University of Hawaii at Manoa) and museum studies (George Washington University).
  • She began her career with fellowships at the Smithsonian Institution‘s National Museums of American History and American Art.
The details:
  • The White House announced the appointment this week, marking the start of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
  • Smith has served under five presidential administrations since joining the Office of the Curator in 1995.
  • Her previous roles include serving as administrative assistant, collections manager, associate curator and registrar. 
  • Smith played a key role in recently maintaining the White House’s accredited museum status under the American Alliance of Museums.
  • “Donna Hayashi Smith brings years of experience,” First Lady Jill Biden said in a statement. “She understands the history and legacy of the White House.”
What’s next:
  • Smith will focus on preserving the White House collection, making it accessible to the public and reflecting greater diversity in the artifacts on display.
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