National Air and Space Museum names director

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum officially has a director.

Christopher Browne, who had been serving as acting director since January 2021, was named as the Smithsonian’s choice Tuesday.



Browne joined the museum as deputy director in 2017, according to a news release, and helped lead the multi-year flagship building renovation in D.C.

He’ll oversee both the flagship museum on the National Mall and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

“I am incredibly honored to help lead the nation’s most prominent aviation and aerospace museum,” Browne said in a statement.

Christopher Browne (Courtesy Smithsonian)

“The ability of this treasured cultural institution to change lives and inspire greatness is unmatched. Our collection, exhibits, scholarship, research, education and storytelling will continue to excite learners and dreamers for years to come.”

Browne will continue leading the renovation of the flagship building on the National Mall. All 23 galleries and public spaces are being worked on.

The first new galleries in the west wing of the building will reopen this fall, the Smithsonian said. Renovations of the east wing are expected to be completed and the wing reopened in 2025.

“The leadership, fundraising acumen and vision Chris has provided the National Air and Space Museum during this exciting period of transformation have been invaluable,” Lonnie Bunch, Secretary of the Smithsonian, said in a statement.

“As someone who began my Smithsonian career at Air and Space, I couldn’t be more thrilled that the museum will continue to benefit from his wisdom, creativity and enthusiasm.”

Browne had an accomplished career in the Navy and in airport management — at Reagan National and Dulles — before joining the Air and Space museum.

He graduated the U.S. Navy’s “Top Gun” Fighter Weapons School, served as a naval flight officer from 1980 to 1985, and from 1986 to 1987, he was a senior operations briefer for the secretary of the Navy and chief of naval operations, where he was awarded the Navy’s Commendation Medal for excellent performance.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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