Brent D. Glass


BRENT D. GLASS is Director Emeritus of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, the world’s largest museum devoted to telling the story of America. A national leader in the preservation, interpretation, and promotion of history, Glass is a public historian who pioneered influential oral history and material culture studies. He is an author, television presence, and international speaker on cultural diplomacy and museum management.

As director of the National Museum of American History between 2002-2011, Glass led a two-year, $87 million renovation and the development of 20 new exhibitions for the 2008 reopening, including the major exhibitions The Star-Spangled Banner, Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life, and On the Water: Stories from Maritime America. The museum now features innovative public programs, living history performances, and new theaters for films, lectures, and concerts. Since 2008, more than 13 million people have visited, a 50% increase over previous years, and the Museum’s web site has an additional 8 million visitors. 

Glass is an active member of and consultant to the diplomatic, cultural, and academic communities.  He is a member of the Flight 93 Memorial Advisory Commission and of the State Department’s U.S-Russia Bilateral Commission Working Group on Education and Culture. He travels frequently as a featured speaker or participant in U.S. State Department public and cultural diplomacy programs, and serves as a consultant and advisor to several cultural organizations including The Presidio in San Francisco and the DeVos Institute at The Kennedy Center in Washington.  He is a trustee of Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania and a Senior Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Studies in Washington, D.C.

Before joining the Smithsonian, Glass served from 1987-2002 as Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, managing the largest and most comprehensive state history program in the country, with 25 historical sites and museums, State Archives, State Museum, the State Historic Preservation Office, public history programs, and historical publications.

Glass earned his doctorate in history from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (1980), a master’s degree in American Studies from New York University (1971), and a bachelor’s degree from Lafayette College (1969). He also completed the program for government executives at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University (1994). He writes extensively on topics ranging from state-of-the-museum blogs to public memory, historic preservation, and industrial history.