Smithsonian Director to Head Underground Railroad Center

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON

Spencer R. Crew, director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History for the past nine years, is ready to face the next phase of his career. He will be leaving the Smithsonian next month to become executive director and chief executive officer of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati.

Crew, who began his Smithsonian career as an historian in 1981, has led the country's largest history museum since 1992 when he was named acting director. He was officially appointed director in 1994. Crew played a major role in developing the museum's major permanent exhibition, "The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden," which opened last year, and in overseeing the ongoing conservation of the StarSpangled Banner, the flag that inspired the national anthem.

The decision to leave the Smithsonian was a difficult one, says Crew.

"I've spent two decades at the Museum of American History, and leaving the Smithsonian is one of the hardest decisions I have ever made," he says.

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is a national educational center scheduled to open in 2004 on the banks of the Ohio River. As head of the institution, Crew will be returning to his home state of Ohio. The position will also allow him to focus on African American history, his academic specialty and a subject he taught at the University of Maryland Baltimore County before joining the Smithsonian. …