WASHINGTON, D.C. – Kevin Gover has been appointed the Smithsonian’s Under Secretary for Museums and Culture, effective Jan. 17. Since February 2020, Gover (Pawnee Tribe of Oklahoma), who was director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), has served as acting Under Secretary. The position oversees the Smithsonian’s history and art museums, its cultural centers, and the archives of American art, Smithsonian exhibits and the national collections program.
Gover began as director of NMAI in 2007. He oversaw the Washington, D.C., and New York City museums as well as the Cultural Resources Center in Suitland, Maryland. Last November, NMAI opened the National Native American Veterans Memorial, which honors the contributions of American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians who served the military.
“Upon the completion of the memorial, I really began to feel that we had accomplished a wonderful achievement and that this could be a good point to close this chapter for myself and the museum,” Gover wrote in a letter posted on NMAI’s website. “I know that the museum is in good hands while we look for my replacement. It also is easier knowing that I will remain at the Smithsonian and serve NMAI in new ways, including as a member of the museum’s board of trustees.”
Machel Monenerkit, who joined the museum in 1994 as a volunteer, will continue to serve as acting director of the museum following Gover’s departure. She is currently the museum’s deputy director. She also worked as a program manager at the museum. In 1998, she transferred to the museum’s location in Washington, where she oversaw three major projects for the museum’s 2004 opening. She joined the museum’s executive office in 2006.