Marion A. Gill was with the Smithsonian Intuition (SI) for more than 30 years. While at the SI, she served as a planner, project manager, and administrator providing direction, coordination, and strategic decision making for new museum planning, exhibitions, public programs, special events, facilities management, and security operations. She has received numerous awards throughout her career including being recognized as an “Unsung Hero” by the Smithsonian during the Institution’s 150th anniversary celebration.
Marion first joined the Smithsonian community in 1984 as a summer security assistant at the Freer Gallery of Art. She then served as an exhibition design intern at the Anacostia Community Museum in 1987. It was while at the Anacostia, that she first experienced the exhilaration of opening a new museum.
During her tenure at the Smithsonian, Marion played key roles in the planning, opening, and operation of two national museums: the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI | 2004), and the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC | 2016).
Marion most recently served as a Program Manager for the Smithsonian’s Office of Protection Services (OPS). As a member of the unit’s senior staff, she was responsible for resource and program management, analysis, and integration across OPS focusing on strategic planning, staffing analysis, budget formulation, and operational policy and procedures. She managed the unit’s first comprehensive “Strategic Security Staffing Analysis” for 19 museums, the National Zoo, and 4 off-site research facilities. This analysis included the determination of the screening requirements; the number and location of guards/law enforcement staff required to keep each facility open and operational; the pay, training, and skill requirements for each position; the determination of armed versus unarmed; the ideal and target staffing models – proprietary, contract, or hybrid; and the establishment of out-year funding requirements.
Marion also served as the division head for Facilities Planning and Business Programs at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Department of Operations. In this capacity, she was responsible for the planning, management, and oversight of museum’s overarching facilities and business programs including capital projects; property management for leased spaces (office and collections storage); new construction fit-out; procurement and installation of fixtures, furniture, and equipment (FF&E); staff move-in; occupational safety; security (personnel, physical, operational); accountable property; and the establishment of the Mall museum’s comprehensive and integrated “Day 1” plan for opening and building operations. Marion also led the cross-functional teams responsible for the development and establishment of NMAAHC’s retail program – including a museum store and the Sweet Home Café – that generated $10± million in combined sales in its first 7 months of operations. Sweet Home Café was nominated for a 2017 James Beard Award, a first for a museum restaurant.
While at the NMAAHC, Marion also served as Senior Project Manager in the museum’s Project Management Office where she was the museum’s ranking authority on museum project management, oversaw the museum’s Inaugural Exhibition Program including 12 exhibition galleries and a wide variety of interpretive areas and public spaces, and successfully managed the department’s $90+ million Inaugural Exhibition programmatic budget.
Marion also worked at the National Museum of the American Indian from 1999 to 2008. While there, she served in a number of positions including as Special Assistant to the Deputy Director where she played a key role in the oversite of all aspects of museum operations and project/program management; Schedule Planning Coordinator for the museum’s Mall Transition Team where she was responsible for the development and tracking of the museum’s “Day 1” integrated program, construction, and event schedule; and Program Analyst in the Executive Planning Office where she served as the museum’s leading technical expert in all areas of project planning, implementation, risk management, and closeout and played key role in the oversight and management of the department’s portfolio of projects (50+ projects totaling $17+ million).
Marion is an alumna of the Northfield Mount Hermon School and served on their Diversity Alumni Council. She attended Fisk University, majoring in Political Science. Marion is proud fourth-generation native Washingtonian and is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated.