Theodore Roosevelt group chooses president, plans museum





The Theodore Roosevelt Association has chosen the head of the Atlanta History Center as its new president with the intention of creating a world-class museum and research facility dedicated to the 26th president.

James Bruns, who has run the Atlanta museum for four years after serving as the Smithsonian Institution's development director and founding director of its National Postal Museum in Washington, will begin work full time with the TRA July 1 but will be involved in association business part time immediately.

Bruns said he was excited about the position because TR "changed America in such a dramatic way. He made the modern presidency."

The hiring of Bruns follows recent bumps in the road for the 88-year-old association that promotes interest in and scholarship on Roosevelt. The previous choice for president declined the job at the last minute and some historians have said the group lacks a purpose and should dissolve.

Instead the TRA board hired Bruns to expand programming, visibility and membership, with a tentative plan to have a museum in operation in about six years.

"He has an impressive record of successfully building historical organizations," said Barbara Berryman Brandt, chairwoman of the 2,000-member Muttontown-based association. "He's a proven fundraiser. He raised $43 million in four years for the Atlanta History Center."...

Edmund Morris, an influential TR biographer who serves on the TRA Advisory Board and had recommended earlier in the year that the group disband because its work is done, criticized the idea of building a museum and hiring Bruns, whose main interest would be to build it.

Morris said creating a Roosevelt center would undermine the group financially while the TR document collection at Harvard donated by the TRA remains underfunded.


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