John Gray

Director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History
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John Gray was named the Elizabeth MacMillan Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History on May 8, 2012 after an extensive national search. Under Gray’s leadership, the museum has embarked on a dynamic strategic plan that will guide the revitalization of its 120,000-square-foot west exhibition wing. Exhibitions and programs will focus on the themes of Innovation and American Business, Democracy and Immigration, and American Culture, animated by lively music, food, and theater presentations.

Gray has a track record in transforming organizations, enlisting scholars, supporting serious research and leading successful fundraising campaigns. Prior to becoming the museum’s ninth director, he was founding president of the Autry National Center of the American West, a successful merging of three cultural organizations: the Autry,  Colorado’s Women of the West Museum in Denver, and Los Angeles’ oldest museum, the Southwest Museum of the American Indian. He also created the Institute for the Study of the American West which supports the scholarly, interpretive and educational activities of the Autry National Center.

Commercial banking was the foundation of Gray’s previous career. He served as executive vice president of First Interstate Bank of California in Los Angeles from 1987 until 1996 and worked at the Small Business Administration in Washington, D.C., for two years, 1997 to 1999.

Gray has a bachelor’s degree from C.W. Post College at Long Island University and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Colorado. He serves on the boards of the Global Center for Cultural Entrepreneurship in Santa Fe and Community Development Technology in Los Angeles.