Columbus' Robert Wright named to National Museum of African American History and Culture board

Columbus resident Robert Wright is one of three people recently appointed to the advisory council of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

Wright, chairman emeritus of Virginia-based Sentel Corp., along with Anthony Coles, M.D., chairman and CEO of Yumanity Therapeutics LLC; and Brian C. Cornell, chairman and CEO at Target Corp., were named to the council.

“I led the commission that did the report to the president and congress,” Wright said on Wednesday. “From that, the Smithsonian has put this board in place to do the necessary fund raising and get it open.”

The target date to have the museum open is late next year, Wright said.

“I am happy, pleased and honored to have been part of starting this and to have the opportunity of seeing it to the end,” Wright said.Wright is a Columbus native and graduate of Spencer High School and Ohio State University with degree in optometry. He is a former Columbus city council member and was active in the national Republican Party and served in the Reagan Administration. He was part of the executive leadership cabinet for the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation.

The council advises the museum and the Smithsonian’s Board of Regents on the planning and design of the museum; fund raising; the acquisition and display of objects; and the administration, operation and maintenance of the museum, according to a news release from the Smithsonian. Wright, Coles and Cornell will serve an initial term effective immediately until the opening of the museum in 2016.

The museum was established by an Act of Congress in 2003, making it the 19th museum of the Smithsonian Institution. It is currently being built on a 5-acre tract adjacent to the Washington Monument.

Columbus-based Alfac, where Wright serves as director emeritus, was the first major corporation to contribute to the museum, donating $1 million.

The fund-raising goal for the museum is $250 million, Wright said.