The Smithsonian Institution has named Steven Newsome, an arts administrator and museum executive in Maryland, as director of the Anacostia Museum.

Newsome, 38, brings 15 years of experience with university and public libraries, government cultural agencies, community museums and museum collections to the post. "It is an institution with a hell of a lot of history," said Newsome yesterday. "The Anacostia has been around for 23 years and has been a leader and innovator in African American museumology. I'm humbled and excited."

The directorship has been vacant since August 1989 when John Kinard, its first and only director, died. Newsome, who was one of eight finalists for the job, will start March 1.

The Anacostia was founded in 1967 as part of the trend of the times to create satellite museums of major institutions. The intent was both to capture local issues such as housing, scholarship and crime in a museum context and to respond to the black-consciousness movement of the 1960s, which sought to define a black aesthetic and incorporate it into mainstream entities.

Newsome has been chief of the Office of Cultural and Educational Services in Maryland's Department of Housing and Community Development for four years. At the same time, he has been director of the Banneker-Douglass Museum in Annapolis and executive director of the state's Commission on Afro-American History and Culture. A native of Norfolk, Newsome has degrees from Trinity College in Hartford and Emory University in Atlanta. He is divorced and has a 17-year-old daughter, Sanya.

"I am excited that he is young with a real sense of how to direct a museum. He knows how to articulate the vision," said Tom Freudenheim, the Smithsonian's assistant secretary for museums.

"He understands a museum in a historic neighborhood and what role it can play in the restoration and flourishing of that area," said Sharon Reinckens, who, with James Mayo, has been serving as acting director of the museum. At a staff meeting yesterday, Zora Martin-Felton, chief of the Anacostia's office of education, said Newsome was asked about the difficulty in succeeding Kinard, who was so closely identified with the museum. "He replied that he did not plan to walk in John Kinard's shoes but that he planned to follow his path," said Martin-Felton. "I was impressed with what he had to say."

One of his concerns, said Newsome, is "how to be a greater force in the direct geographical area -- Southeast Washington -- and how to protect resources both tangible and intangible in that area. I'm concerned about the preservation of folklife, traditions and customs. ... What are we going to do about go-go? We are going to find a way."

In Maryland Newsome helped plan the Kunta Kinte celebration in Annapolis, an annual event saluting black achievements. Newsome hopes to reinstitute the Anacostia's commemoration of Juneteenth, a festival marking the day blacks in Texas found out about the Emancipation Proclamation. "I think all institutions need a signature event," he says.

Newsome said he also wants to continue his emphasis on collaboration and cosponsorship. He coordinated an annual concert with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. And he would like to use the outdoor space at the museum as a sculpture garden.

One of the problems that have plagued the Anacostia has been the perception that it is a stepchild of the giant Smithsonian. For fiscal year 1991 the Anacostia has a budget of $1.2 million, out of the overall Smithsonian budget of $400.9 million. The lack of direct access from the Mall six miles away to the building on Fort Place SE has caused constant complaints. This year Congress appropriated $75,000 for a shuttle service. "Certainly with Carmen Turner coming on {as a top Smithsonian administrator}, we will rely on her expertise to help solve this problem," said Newsome.

In the discussion stages at the Smithsonian is a plan for an African American facility of some type on the Mall. How that project -- which could be a research center, a permanent exhibition in an existing museum or a separate building -- would affect the Anacostia is not clear. "There are concerns about how will it remain distinctive," said Newsome, who will now join the committee looking at the options. "I think there is indeed a need for a major African American presence contiguous to the rest of those institutions on the Mall. What form it should be I don't know."