National Civil Rights Museum Director of Interpretation, Collections, and Education, Dr. Noelle Trent, announced she is leaving the museum to assume the role of President and CEO of the Museum of African American History in Boston & Nantucket. The news comes after eight years of bringing a broader national focus to the museum through world-class exhibitions, thought-provoking programs, impactful events, and the expansion of its archives.
Trent came to the museum in 2015 after contracting as an exhibition researcher, curriculum developer, and docent instructor with the National Museum of African American History and Culture and receiving her doctorate in American History, specializing in nineteenth-century history, at Howard University. Her transfer of expertise helped the museum develop and implement strategies for major exhibitions, collection acquisitions, education programming, community outreach, and interpretation.
Museum President, Dr. Russ Wigginton, stated, “Noelle has done an outstanding job of leading the integration of these distinct areas. She has also made significant contributions to the external and internal transformation that is planned for the Legacy Building and Founder’s Park.”
During her tenure at the museum, Trent has made an indelible mark on the museum’s institutional life. In her leadership role, she has:
- presented internationally at the European Solidarity Center in Gdansk, Poland, and at high schools in Warsaw and Sopot, Poland;
- planned the international service for the museum’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination, MLK50: Where Do We Go from Here?;
- curated the MLK50 A Legacy Remembered, a series of virtual tour presentations, and a number of rapid response exhibitions to reflect current issues relevant to civil and human rights;
- expanded Collections’ acquisition of artifacts and oral histories while bolstering its digitization plan;
- strengthened the museum’s prominence as a Smithsonian Affiliate through key traveling exhibitions and initiatives;
- initiated positioning the museum as a UNESCO World Heritage site;
- revamped the museum’s key public programs, including King Day, April 4th Commemoration, Student Forum, Book & Author Series, Ruby Bridges Reading Festival, Small but Mighty Storytime, and Juneteenth, for more community engagement through hybrid presentations.
Trent has been responsible for national collaborations with institutions devoted to Black history and culture and is revered as a leader in this space. She is a rising innovator in national professional organizations, including the American Association of State and Local History and the Association of African American Museums.
Trent will depart from the museum on May 12. In her absence, Ryan Jones, Associate Curator, will serve as Interim Director for the department. The Museum will conduct a national search for the permanent position.