Bunke was born in Grand Haven and launched her 20-year museum career as a registrar at the Tri-Cities Historical Museum. She was selected following a nationwide search and thorough evaluation process, museum officials said.
“I am very excited to be back here,” Bunke said. “I feel like I have come full circle and am proud to represent the communities where my family history can be traced back five generations. I am proud and eager to start working with the board, staff and volunteers to preserve and present the history and culture of this special place.”
A graduate of Fruitport High School, Bunke earned a bachelor’s degree at Central Michigan University and a master’s degree at Eastern Michigan University. Her resume includes stints as assistant director of material culture at Kalamazoo Valley Museum, 12 years as executive director and curator at the St. Charles Heritage Center in Illinois, and museum supervisor at the Downers Grove Park District Museum in Illinois for three years.
She also works with the American Alliance of Museums on the Museum Assessment Program, which helps small to mid-size museums prepare for professional accreditation.
“On behalf of the Board of Directors, we’re thrilled to welcome Julie as our director,” said Ann White, president of the Tri-Cities Historical Museum’s board. “She began her career at our museum in 1999 and now returns to share with us a wealth of experience in all aspects of museum management. Her passion for history and love of our Tri-Cities community will make her leadership even more effective.”
The local museum’s curator of education, Kevin Geary, has been serving as interim director since May 2016, following the departure of Steve Radtke as director.
In addition to her museum responsibilities, Bunke said she looks forward to giving her children the kinds of experiences she had growing up near the shores of Lake Michigan.