Director, National Museum of American History
Nov 29, 2017
John Gray
Director, National Museum of American History

With a background in banking, small business and museums, Mr. Gray brings deep experience and a unique vision for unlocking the transformational power of history museums. Director Gray is leading the physical and programmatic reinvention the National Museum of American History. The museum is pairing its unparalleled collection of national treasures with a thematic focus around fundamental American ideals and ideas to share the value of history to visitors’ daily lives and inspiring a more humane future for the nation. Under his leadership, the museum is boldly re-imagining its three-floor, 120,000 square-foot West Wing. The first floor recently opened devoted to the themes of innovation and American enterprise. The second floor will present the ideas of democracy and the peopling of America, and the third floor will explore America’s democratic identity and culture. As steward of our nation’s national collection of more than three million artifacts and documents, including the iconic Star-Spangled Banner, the Greensboro lunch Counter, Lincoln’s top hat, Dizzy Gillespie’s trumpet and Dorothy’s ruby slippers, Mr. Gray intends to use these objects to tell an inclusive, respectful, instructive and compassionate story of all the peoples of America. 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. 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. Mr. 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 board of St. John’s College in Annapolis and Santa Fe, where he continues to study the Great Books, and received an honorary degree from Occidental College in Los Angeles.