Please join the American Folklife Center in welcoming our new Director of Archives, Michael Pahn! He’s only just started with us in this position—his official first day was May 9—but has a long relationship with the Center, going all the way back to an internship he held in the 1990s! He’s also worked with many AFC staff over the years in his capacity as Head of Archives and Digitization at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), the position he held prior to joining the Library of Congress.
Michael began at NMAI in 2003 as Media Archivist, and in 2014 became Head Archivist. He was Acting Assistant Director of Collections from 2021-2022. Michael oversaw major improvements with online access to NMAI’s archival collections and has focused on collaboration and consultation with Indigenous communities, cultural institutions, researchers, and artists. He has also managed preservation projects funded by the National Film Preservation Foundation, Save America’s Treasures, and the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund.
He holds a BA in Anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh and an MLS from the University of Maryland. His prior professional experiences include Save Our Sounds Project Librarian at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, and Librarian at The Nature Conservancy. Michael is also a musician and played for years with the D.C. Americana band Shortstack. We are quite excited to have him onboard at the Center, and know that his years of experience, deep knowledge of archival practice, and professional reputation will enhance our work preserving archival collections and connecting to communities of users.