Anthea M. Hartig serves as the Elizabeth MacMillan Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, and is the first woman to do so. Hartig is currently leading the museum in enacting a vibrant new strategic plan with a vision to become the most relevant, accessible, inclusive, and sustainable museum possible by 2030. The Museum’s mission of empowering people to create a more just and compassionate future by preserving, sharing, and interpreting the complex history of the United States motivates and humbles her daily in serving 3-4 million visitors at the Museum on the National Mall (projected 2022-2023) and over 12 million guests online (2021-2022).
Stewarding a growing collection of nearly 2M objects and over three linear shelf miles of archival materials represents unparalleled challenges and opportunities for the Museum. Moreover, doing this work in the recent cyclone of crises—viral, racial, economic, environmental, gender, Constitutional—has challenged and expanded the Museum’s collecting, educational, and operational paradigms. Anthea and her team both live in this grist mill of history and work to document both the proverbial grist and the mill equipment.
Before joining the Smithsonian, Hartig was the executive director and CEO of the California Historical Society (CHS) in San Francisco. She also served as the director of the Western Region for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, taught undergraduate and graduate courses in US History and Public History, worked for two cities, served under two California Governors, and has been involved in historic preservation and public history projects since the 1990s. She earned her doctorate and master’s degrees in history at the University of California, Riverside, and her bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Los Angeles. Dedicated to public service and non-profit advocacy, Hartig has served on numerous California State Commissions, task forces, and Boards, including the California Preservation Foundation, National Council for Public History, and the Organization of American Historians—for which she currently serves as President.