Professor Richard Kurin, Ph.D.

Professor Richard Kurin
  • The Smithsonian
  • University of Chicago
Objects have an amazing ability to connect us to history in a powerful, emotional, visceral way.

Dr. Richard Kurin is the Smithsonian’s Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture. In this position, he oversees most of the Smithsonian’s national museums, libraries, and archives, as well as several of its research and outreach programs. Dr. Kurin holds a B.A. in Anthropology and Philosophy from the University at Buffalo—The State University of New York. He earned both his M.A. and his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Chicago.

Dr. Kurin has worked at the Smithsonian for almost four decades, starting with the Bicentennial of the United States in 1976. For decades he directed the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, representing the diversity of America’s cultural traditions at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall, in Folkways recordings and other publications. He has produced programs on American history and culture for several presidential inaugurations and for the Olympics, as well as the National World War II Reunion for the opening of the World War II Memorial. Before becoming Under Secretary, Dr. Kurin directed the Smithsonian’s National Programs, sending exhibitions and educational offerings across the United States. Dr. Kurin has served on the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO, and drafted an international treaty on safeguarding the world’s living cultural heritage. He represents the Smithsonian on the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, as well as the White House Historical Association. He has been awarded the Smithsonian Secretary’s Gold Medal for Exceptional Service and numerous other honors.

Dr. Kurin has taught at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and frequently lectures at The George Washington University, as well as at universities and museums across the country and around the world. He regularly blogs for Smithsonian magazine and Smithsonian Journeys, has given hundreds of speeches, and has appeared on numerous television and radio programs.

Dr. Kurin is the author of scores of scholarly articles and several books, including Hope Diamond: The Legendary History of a Cursed Gem; Reflections of a Culture Broker: A View from the Smithsonian; and Smithsonian Folklife Festival: Culture of, by, and for the People. His latest book is The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects, a national bestseller that provides the basis for this Great Course

Testimonials
"Richard Kurin is articulate, passionate and engaging. From the first lecture, a history of the 'Star Spangled Banner', I knew this was something special."

9 Courses and Sets

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9 Courses and Sets

  1. Experiencing America: A Smithsonian Tour through American History

    Experiencing America: A Smithsonian Tour through American History

    Richard Kurin
    4.4 out of 5
    85% of reviewers would recommend this product
    (47)
    Starting at £39.99 Starting at £39.99 £54.99 £39.99£54.99
    Experience a visual history of America as only the Smithsonian can tell it—with 24 lectures delivered by the curator of our nation’s greatest treasures.
  2. The Great Tours: Washington D.C.

    The Great Tours: Washington D.C.

    Richard Kurin
    4.9 out of 5
    92% of reviewers would recommend this product
    (25)
    Starting at £54.99 Starting at £54.99 £54.99 £54.99£54.99
    Washington DC is a world-class city, offering a multitude of unforgettable sights. In this travelogue, you’ll discover the many layers of history and human endeavor that created DC’s urban environment, such as departments of the U.S. government, monuments and memorials, world-class museums, lesser-known historic gems, neighborhoods and historic homes, and contemporary DC’s range of culinary and recreational...
  3. (Set) The Industrial Revolution & Experiencing America Set

    (Set) The Industrial Revolution & Experiencing America

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at £88.98 Starting at £88.98 £125.98 £88.98£125.98
    Embark on an intellectual journey with The Great Courses and The Smithsonian in this set of courses. First, experience a visual history of America as only the Smithsonian can tell it with Experiencing America, delivered by the curator of our nation’s greatest treasures. Then examine the extraordinary events and far-reaching impact of The Industrial Revolution with award-winning history professor Patrick Allitt.
  4. (Set) Experiencing America & American Revolution Set

    (Set) Experiencing America & American Revolution

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at £74.98 Starting at £74.98 £102.98 £74.98£102.98
    Get to know the United States of America at a level that you never achieved in school. In Experiencing America: A Smithsonian Tour through American History, see the U.S.A. through the stories of its most famous artifacts. Then, delve into the story of the Revolutionary War with the fascinating lectures of The American Revolution.
  5. (Set) America’s Founding Fathers & Experiencing America Set

    (Set) America’s Founding Fathers & Experiencing America

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at £88.98 Starting at £88.98 £125.98 £88.98£125.98
    The Smithsonian takes you on an in-depth and unprecedented look at American history with this two-course set. First, a historian reveals how the U.S. Constitution was forged in America’s Founding Fathers. Then, discover America through authentic historic objects, detailed replicas, and exclusive photographs in Experiencing America: A Smithsonian Tour through American History.
  6. (Set) Experiencing America & Skeptic's Guide to American Hist Set

    (Set) Experiencing America & Skeptic's Guide to American Hist

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at £74.98 Starting at £74.98 £102.98 £74.98£102.98
    Get to know the United States of America at a level that you never achieved in school. In Experiencing America: A Smithsonian Tour through American History, see the U.S.A. through the stories of its most famous artifacts. Then, delve into the story of the Revolutionary War with the fascinating lectures of The American Revolution.
  7. (Set) The Science of Flight & Experiencing America: A Smithsonian Tour through American History Set

    (Set) The Science of Flight & Experiencing America: A Smithsonian Tour through American History

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at £74.98 Starting at £74.98 £102.98 £74.98£102.98
    Discover the amazing inventions and artifacts of America in this two-course set. Start by taking an in-depth look at airplanes, rockets, and more with The Science of Flight. And, Experiencing America: A Smithsonian Tour through American History showcases 20 authentic historic objects along with detailed replicas and photographs of almost 100 other artifacts and exhibits.
  8. (Set) Experiencing America & Turning Points in American Hist Set

    (Set) Experiencing America & Turning Points in American Hist

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at £102.98 Starting at £102.98 £144.98 £102.98£144.98
    Explore the development of a young nation in this set of two courses. In Experiencing America: A Smithsonian Tour through American History, see the U.S.A. through the stories of its most famous artifacts. Then, in Turning Points in American History, study the events that shaped a nation... for better or worse.
  9. (Set) The Great Tours & Experiencing America Set

    (Set) The Great Tours & Experiencing America

    Richard Kurin
    Starting at £88.98 Starting at £88.98 £102.98 £88.98£102.98
    Join the Smithsonian for an illuminating adventure through American history unlike any other. The first part of this two-course set is The Great Tours: Washington D.C., in which you’ll explore the extraordinary treasures of the nation’s capital—from iconic sights to little-known cultural gems. The second part is Experiencing America: A Smithsonian Tour through American History, which showcases authentic...