Dr. Herman J. Viola is a curator emeritus at the Smithsonian Institution. Prior to his retirement in 1994, he was director of Quincentenary Programs at the National Museum of Natural History. During his tenure, he organized two major exhibitions: "Magnificent Voyagers," which told the story of the U.S. Exploring Expedition that was conducted from 1838 to 1842, and "Seeds of Change," which focused on the exchange of plants, animals, and diseases between the Old and the New Worlds as a result of the Christopher Columbus voyages.
His professional career also includes serving as Director of the Smithsonian's National Anthropological Archives, where he initiated the Native American Culture Resources Training Program, the Smithsonian's first internship program for American Indians. Prior to joining the staff of the Smithsonian Institution, he was a staff member at the National Archives of the United States, where he launched the prize-winning quarterly Prologue: The Journal of the National Archives. He also served as an archivist for the National Historical Records and Publications Commission.
Dr. Viola has been a consultant to numerous museums and educational organizations, and was also an active educator, having taught at several universities. A published author, his most important publications include Exploring the West, After Columbus, Warrior Artists, and The North American Indians. He also authored Why We Remember, a middle school social studies textbook.
Dr. Viola received his Ph.D. in American history from Indiana University and his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts from Marquette University. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and has received numerous professional and scholarly awards, including a Merit Award from Marquette University and an honorary doctor of letters degree from Wittenberg University.
From 1972 until 1987, Dr. Viola was Director of the National Anthropological Archives at the Smithsonian, which is responsible for collecting and preserving materials relating to the history of anthropology. As part of his duties, he also supervised the Human Studies Film Archives, which is charged with collecting and preserving ethnographic film.
Currently, Dr. Viola is the historian on the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee for the U.S. Mint and he is the senior advisor for the National Native American Veterans Memorial which is scheduled to be dedicated on Veterans Day 2020 on the grounds of the Museum of the American Indian on the Mall in Washington, D.C.