Harold A. Closter
Director, Smithsonian Affiliations
Harold Closter is the director of Smithsonian Affiliations, one of the Smithsonian’s principle outreach offices. Before becoming director in 2004, he was the senior management advisor in the Office of National Programs from 2001 to 2004. His 38-year career at the Smithsonian has focused on education, public programs, exhibition development and outreach.
From 1994 to 2001, Closter was the associate director for public service at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, where he oversaw the education, publications, project management and public-space planning and design departments. Before that, he was the project manager for numerous major exhibitions, including the international traveling exhibition “Smithsonian’s America: An Exhibition of American History and Culture” and the National Museum of American History exhibitions “American Encounters,” “A More Perfect Union: Japanese Americans and the U.S. Constitution,” “The Search for Life” and “The Information Age.”
Closter served as a technical director of the Smithsonian’s Festival of American Folklife in 1977 and 1978 and as a program coordinator in the Smithsonian’s Division of Performing Arts from 1978 to 1983.
Closter lectures frequently on topics related to museum management and strategic planning and has led workshops on these subjects at the University of Turabo, a Smithsonian Affiliate in Puerto Rico; Georgetown University; and George Washington University. He is also the co-founder of the Smithsonian Affiliations/George Washington University 21st Century Museum Leadership Seminar. He has received the Smithsonian’s Bicentennial Unsung Hero Award and the National Museum of American History’s Director’s Award for Distinguished Service.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Wisconsin and studied Folklore and Folklife in the graduate program at the University of Pennsylvania.
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