The Henry Luce Foundation today announced that Kevin Gover, Under Secretary for Museums and Culture at the Smithsonian, has been elected to its Board of Directors.
“We are thrilled that Kevin Gover is joining the Luce Foundation Board. As a leader of one of the country’s preeminent museum, research, and education centers and a renowned expert on Native American culture, he brings unique expertise and perspective to the work of the Foundation,” said Board Chairs Terry Adamson and Debra Knopman.
Gover currently oversees the Smithsonian’s history and art museums, its cultural centers, and the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Exhibits, and the National Collections Program. From 2007 until January 2021, Gover served as director of the National Museum of the American Indian, where the Washington and New York museums opened numerous critically acclaimed exhibitions, including Americans (2018), Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations (2014), and Infinity of Nations: Art and History in the Collections of the National Museum of the American Indian (2010).
In November 2020, the National Museum of the American Indian opened the National Native American Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The memorial was commissioned by Congress to give “all Americans the opportunity to learn of the proud and courageous tradition of service of Native Americans in the Armed Forces of the United States.” This was the first national landmark in Washington to focus on the contributions of American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians who have served in the military.
“I am honored to join the Luce Foundation Board,” said Gover. “The mission of the foundation perfectly aligns with the work I have done at the National Museum of the American Indian and now as Under Secretary at the Smithsonian. I hope my perspective and years of service will be an asset to the Foundation.”
During his tenure at the National Museum of the American Indian, Gover also oversaw the launch of Native Knowledge 360°, the museum’s national educational initiative. NK360° is a set of teaching resources that provides educators and students with new perspectives on Native American history and cultures. It offers educational materials and training for teachers that incorporate Native narratives, more comprehensive histories and accurate information to enlighten and inform teaching and learning about Native America. It challenges common assumptions about Native peoples—their cultures, their roles in United States and world history, and their contributions to the arts, sciences and literature.
“We are extremely fortunate to have Kevin Gover join our Board of Directors,” said President and CEO Mariko Silver. “His broad vision, together with his vast knowledge of Indigenous peoples and cultures, will be of tremendous benefit to our community of partners. This Foundation celebrates the richness of this country’s history and culture and has been proud to support the Smithsonian’s museums for more than four decades.”
Gover served as Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs in the U.S. Department of the Interior from 1997 to 2000 under President Bill Clinton, where he won praise for his efforts to rebuild long-neglected Indian schools and expand tribal and Bureau of Indian Affairs police forces throughout the country. His tenure as Assistant Secretary is known for his apology to Native Americans for the historical conduct of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
After leaving office in 2000, Gover practiced law at Steptoe & Johnson LLP in Washington. In 2003, he joined the faculty at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University and served on the faculty of its Indian Legal Program.
Gover received his bachelor’s degree in public and international affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and his juris doctor degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Princeton in 2001 and an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from Brown in 2016. Gover was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2020.