A Maryland native with extensive museum experience has been appointed as the new head curator of the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture.
Charles E. Bethea, who grew up in Bladensburg, becomes one of the most public faces of the Baltimore museum. He'll apply his quarter century of experience working for museums and cultural organizations in his new role as the Lewis' chief curator and director of collections and exhibitions.
Bethea, who started his job on Oct. 1, will oversee the research, planning and presentation of exhibits based on the museum's permanent collection, traveling shows and special projects.
He wrote in an email that he hopes to build "interesting, poignant stories using historical artifacts, cultural objects, and works of art" that will be relevant to young audiences while continuing to resonate with those who already are familiar with the subject that the exhibit explores.
He continued: "I look forward to helping tell the powerful stories of Maryland's history, emphasizing the African American experience."
Bethea has been the executive director of the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, and chief operating officer and curator at Chicago's DuSable Museum of African American History.
He's also served as director of educational programming at the Hampton University Museum, the same Virginia institution from which he received a master's degree in museum studies.
"We are delighted to welcome Charles, who is an accomplished museum professional, to guide the museum's Collections and Exhibitions Department in advancing its focus on interactivity and engagement," A. Skipp Sanders, the museum's executive director, said in a news release.
"Charles has the ability to relate to people from all walks in life, and he knows how to be a catalyst in helping diverse groups relate to one another."
The Lewis' previous chief curator, Michelle Joan Wilkinson, left in 2014 to accept a job as a curator at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture, which is expected to open some time next year.