Brent Glass: Retires as Director of Smithsonian’s American History Museum

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Dr. Brent Glass has announced he is leaving his position as director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History effective July 10; he will continue at the Smithsonian as a senior advisor through the end of this year.

Glass has served as director of the museum since 2002 and overseen the most extensive renovation of the museum in its history, the conservation of the Star-Spangled Banner and the installation of major new exhibitions on transportation, maritime history, military history and first ladies’ gowns.

The Museum of American History is the third-busiest museum in the Smithsonian complex with more than 4 million visitors in 2010. It has a staff of 250, an annual federal budget of about $30 million and about 3 million artifacts. During Glass’ tenure, the museum has raised more than $60 million from individuals, foundations and corporations.
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During Glass’ tenure at the museum the building underwent an $85 million renovation that took nearly 2½ years. When it reopened in November 2008, it included an entirely new core with a dramatic skylight and glass staircase opening up the atrium and a new exhibition of the Star-Spangled Banner. Glass considers the renovation of the core of the building, completed in 2008, to be the highlight of his nine years at the Smithsonian.

Before joining the Smithsonian, Glass served for 15 years (1987–2002) as executive director of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in Harrisburg, Pa., which included 25 sites. He oversaw major expansion and renovation projects at several historic sites and museums around the state and led an effort to conserve the Pennsylvania Charter and other important documents and artifacts.

He earned his doctorate in philosophy and history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, his master’s degree in American Civilization at New York University and a bachelor’s degree at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania.

An acting director for the museum will be appointed in July. Glass will serve as Senior Advisor to the Office of the Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture. A national search for a new director for the museum will begin immediately, headed up by Richard Kurin, Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture with the assistance of an executive search firm.

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