Michael Atwood Mason Announced as CEO & Executive Director of President Lincoln’s Cottage

Washington, D.C. – President Lincoln’s Cottage announces that Michael Atwood Mason will assume the role of CEO and Executive Director. Dr. Mason, who most recently served as the Director of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, will lead President Lincoln’s Cottage, a National Monument and museum in Washington, DC dedicated to the brave ideas of Abraham Lincoln, effective September 13, 2021.

“We are thrilled to have Michael join us during this time of change and challenge and we are confident that with his strategic leadership the Cottage will move forward to a new era of growth and impact,” said Rick Murphy, Chairman of the Board of Directors of President Lincoln’s Cottage.

Dr. Mason brings a wealth of experience in storytelling, humanities scholarship, and organizational leadership to President Lincoln’s Cottage as it strives to position itself as a leading voice on Lincoln’s life and legacy.

“President Lincoln’s Cottage is the rare museum that inspires and facilitates meaningful social change. What’s more, it has long been an example of a cultural institution that uses the power of place, detailed inquiry, and dynamic storytelling to educate and inform. At this moment of deep questioning about the future and meaning of our democracy, I’m excited to join President Lincoln’s Cottage to showcase the many insights Lincoln’s legacy can bring to today’s challenges. It is my pleasure to join this creative, award-winning team as we raise the profile and prominence of the Cottage,” said Dr. Mason.

A PhD in Folklore, Dr. Mason began his career at the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum as a researcher and exhibit developer. Later, he spent 20 years at the Museum of Natural History where he ended his tenure as Director of Exhibitions. He was named as the Director of Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage in 2013, where he oversaw cultural and educational programs and led the Smithsonian Folklife festival and Smithsonian Folkways recordings.

During his tenure at Folklife, his team won Grammy awards, research awards, and commendations from Congress and two foreign governments. Under his watch, the center increased their digital reach from 10 million to 305 million. He also developed a new Cultural Sustainability Program working with communities to document, preserve, and present their most cherished cultural expressions.

Dr. Mason takes over leadership of the organization from long-time director Erin Carlson Mast, who relocated to Illinois to serve as the President & CEO of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation and Callie Hawkins, Director of Programming at President Lincoln’s Cottage, who served brilliantly as Interim Director.

Dr. Mason’s appointment comes after a national search spearheaded by Koya Partners, an executive search firm tasked with finding a leader to meet the future goals of the Cottage.

Photo of Michael Atwood Mason by Rhys Wingreen


Media contact: Rebecca Kilborne

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