OKLAHOMA CITY — Leon Natker has been named the next Director of the Oklahoma Museum of History at the Oklahoma History Center. He will start on July 5.
Natker is an artist, archaeologist, anthropologist and historian. He previously worked as Director for Institutional Advancement at the First Americans Museum in Oklahoma City.
“Oklahoma is a rich and diverse state encompassing the stories of many peoples and events,” said Natker. “I am honored to have been selected and trusted with this important position, and I look forward to working with the amazing staff to tell the stories of Oklahoma’s history.”
“I am thrilled to have someone with the breadth of Leon’s experience joining the Oklahoma Historical Society as director of the Oklahoma Museum of History,” said Trait Thompson, executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society. “We interviewed several top-caliber candidates, but Leon’s knowledge of multiple facets of the museum field, his passion for history, his gregarious demeanor, and his record of success at prior institutions shone through. He is the right person to lead the museum into its next era of service to the people of Oklahoma.”
Natker attended The Juilliard School in New York before embarking on a career that took him across the United States and Europe to study and sing opera. He later became Executive Director of the Lyric Opera San Diego. In 2000, the need for a new home for the company led Natker into the world of historic preservation. He led the $8 million capital campaign through public and private enterprises to restore the historic 1928 North Park Theatre.
In 2011, Natker began pursuing a career in museums. He received a master’s degree in applied archaeology from Eastern New Mexico University and a master’s degree in museum studies from the University of New Mexico.
His previous positions at museums include collections management and co-curation of exhibits at the Maxwell Museum, Blackwater Draw and the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, all in New Mexico. He is a published author and lecturer in the archaeology of the Southwest.
He has participated in digs at the Yangguanzhai site in central China and Chaco Canyon and Gila Cliffs in New Mexico. Natker has worked on historic preservation projects at Montezuma Castle in Arizona, the Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico and Coronado Historic Site in New Mexico.
The Oklahoma History Center is located at 800 Nazih Zuhdi Dr. in Oklahoma City. It is open to the public Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Please call 405-522-0765 or visit www.okhistory.org/historycenter for admission costs and group rates.
The Oklahoma History Center is a division of the Oklahoma Historical Society and is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, National Archives and is an accredited member of the American Alliance of Museums. The mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma and its people. Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, the OHS maintains museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the rich history of Oklahoma. For more information about the OHS, please visit www.okhistory.org.