National Building Museum Announces Interim Executive Director

Categories: Articles, Press

Brent D. Glass, former head of the National Museum of American History,
to lead institution through early 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C.The National Building Museum is pleased to announce that Brent D. Glass, Director Emeritus of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, has joined the institution as Interim Executive Director, following the retirement of former Executive Director Chase W. Rynd, Hon. ASLA, in June.

The Museum is also pleased to announce that Rynd, the institution’s fourth and longest-serving Executive Director (17 years; 2004–2020), has been named Executive Director Emeritus. It is the first time such an honor has been bestowed by the National Building Museum.

Glass will lead the institution as it conducts its 40th Anniversary Campaign fundraising effort and works toward a safe reopening. “I am delighted to lead the National Building Museum during a time of major transition,” said Glass. “The museum has an outstanding 40-year history of innovative exhibits and programs, and it occupies one of the nation’s architectural treasures. This is a great honor and opportunity for me.”

A national leader in the preservation, interpretation, and promotion of history, Glass is a public historian who today provides management and consulting services to museums, historical organizations, and cultural institutions throughout the United States and in other countries. His most recent book, 50 Great American Places (Simon and Schuster, 2016), explores the power of essential historic sites and how they illuminate core themes in American history.

Since 2012, Glass has served as a consultant to more than 70 cultural and educational institutions on management issues such as executive recruitment, governance, fundraising and strategic planning. Among his current projects, he is directing the development of the proposed Sing Sing Prison Museum in Ossining, New York and serves as senior advisor to the National History Academy based in Middleburg, Virginia.

As director of the National Museum of American History (2002–2011) Glass led a two-year, $120 million renovation and the development of major exhibitions, including the Star-Spangled Banner and permanent galleries on transportation, military, and maritime history. The museum now features innovative public programs, living history performances, and new theaters for films, lectures, and concerts.

Glass is an active member of and consultant to the diplomatic, cultural, and academic communities. He was a member of the Flight 93 Memorial Advisory Commission, a Senior Scholar at the Wilson International Center for Scholars and a trustee of Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. He served on the State Department’s U.S-Russia Bilateral Commission Working Group on Education and Culture (2009) and has lectured about museums and public history in Russia, China, Egypt, Serbia, Portugal, Lithuania, Slovenia, France, Germany, Italy, and the Czech Republic. He recently co-directed an online conference with museum professionals in Mexico.

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 historic 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.

Braulio Agnese,

The National Building Museum is America’s leading cultural institution dedicated to advancing the quality of the built environment by educating people about its impact on their lives. Through its exhibitions, educational programs, web content, and publications, the Museum has become a vital forum for the exchange of ideas and information about the world we build for ourselves. Public inquiries: (202) 272-2448 or visit Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.