Brent D. Glass is Director Emeritus of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History (NMAH), 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 also an author, a television presence, and an international speaker on public memory and museum management.

As director of the NMAH from 2002 to 2011, Glass led a two-year, $87 million renovation and development of 20 new exhibitions for the 2008 reopening. This project incorporated major exhibitions, including: The Star Spangled BannerAbraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary LifeOn the Water: Stories from Maritime America; and, 80 public programs and 2,500 theater performances. Since 2008, more than 20 million people have visited NMAH, a 50% increase over previous years, and the Museum’s web site has seen an additional 8 million annual visits. 

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 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 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. He managed 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, a master’s degree in American Studies from New York University, and bachelor’s degree from Lafayette College. He also completed the program for government executives at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He writes extensively on topics ranging from state-of-the-museum blogs to public memory, historic preservation, and industrial history.