The National Veterans Memorial and Museum in downtown Columbus has announced that Samir Bitar will be its museum director when it opens in the fall.
Bitar, who will oversee the museum's day-to-day operations, most recently served as director of visitor experience at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., developing and overseeing strategies to improve access and engagement for more than 20 million visitors annually in 19 museums, according to a July 17 news release from the NVMM.
In addition to his 10 years of experience in museum management, finance, audience research and development, and marketing, Bitar also is a veteran who served in the U.S. Army.
"The time I spent as soldier shaped my commitment to public service," Bitar said in the news release. "I am excited to work for an institution like NVMM that places such a strong emphasis on inclusive storytelling for all of our veterans, past and present."
Bitar received a bachelor’s degree in humanities from the New College of California. He also has a master’s degree in arts management with a concentration in marketing from Carnegie Mellon University.
The 53,000-square-foot museum and 2.5-acre memorial grove sit on the riverfront in downtown Columbus. The museum is scheduled to open this fall.
The NVMM, at 300 W. Broad St., isn't considered a war memorial or a military-branch-of-service museum, according to the news release. History will be presented in a dynamic, participatory experience with photos, letters and personal effects, as well as multimedia presentations and interactive exhibits.
Construction began in December 2015, and the museum's opening is considered the first step, according to the release. Plans for an educational online curriculum and an interactive, virtual-tour experience will be key priorities.
The Columbus Downtown Development Corp. served as project manager, raising more than $82 million via private philanthropy and public partnerships to fund construction, according to the news release. The CDDC also led the design, construction and opening efforts, the release said.
The museum in June announced that Lt. Gen. Michael Ferriter would be the CEO and president. Ferriter retired from the Army after 35 years of service.
For more information about the NVMM, visit www.nationalvmm.org.