Brent D. Glass is a public historian who pioneered influential oral history and material culture studies and was Elizabeth MacMillan Director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History from 2002-2011. He is an author and international speaker on cultural diplomacy and museum management. He writes on topics ranging from state-of-the-museum blogs to public memory, historic literacy, historic preservation, and industrial history.
Glass led the two-year, $85 million renovation of the National Museum of American History, completed in 2008, revitalizing public spaces and creating a new public square on the National Mall for citizenship naturalization ceremonies and other public events. Since 2002, he has overseen conservation of the Star-Spangled Banner, creation of major new exhibitions on transportation, maritime history, military history and first ladies' gowns, installation of nearly 50 other exhibitions and hundreds of online and public programs, and the Museum has raised more than $75 million from individuals, foundations and corporations. Under Glass’ leadership, the National Museum of American History opened the popular permanent exhibitions, “America on the Move” in November 2003 and “The Price of Freedom: Americans at War” in November 2004, as well as a temporary display, “Treasures of American History,” while the museum was closed for renovations. He testified before congress.
Glass is an active member of and consultant to the diplomatic, cultural, and academic communities, serving on many boards that work to generate enthusiasm for history among the general public. He serves as a Federal Commissioner of the U.S. Flight 93 Memorial Advisory Commission and a member of the U.S. State Department Bilateral U.S. Russian Presidential Commission Working Group on Education, Culture, Sports and Media. . A frequent speaker and participant in public diplomacy and cultural diplomacy programs, he serves on the U.S. State Department Diplomatic Center Advisory Committee, the San Francisco Presidio Heritage Advisory Board, and as a trustee of Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. He has served as a Federal Commissioner of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission and on the National Council of the American Association for State and Local History.
Prior to joining the Smithsonian, from 1987-2002 he served 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, including the State Archives and State Museum; the State Historic Preservation Office, public history programs, and historical publications. He was executive director of the North Carolina Humanities Council from 1983 to 1987.
A graduate of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government nonprofit executive leadership program, Glass earned his doctorate in history from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (1980), master’s degree in American Studies from New York University (1971), and bachelor's degree from Lafayette College (1969) where he was a member of the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity. He writes on public history, public memory, historic literacy, historic preservation, industrial history and the history of Pennsylvania and North Carolina."Foreword", African Americans in Pennsylvania: shifting historical perspectives, Authors Joe William Trotter, Eric Ledell Smith, Penn State Press, 1997, ISBN 978-0-271-01687-0
Badin, a town at the Narrows: an historical and architectural survey, Authors Brent D. Glass, Pat Dickinson, Stanly County Historic Properties Commission, 1982
"A New South Pioneer", Discovering North Carolina: A Tar Heel Reader, Author Jack Claiborne, Editors William Price, UNC Press, 1993, ISBN 978-0-8078-4434-2