Sir John Leighton told MSPs today that Trump's boasts that he doesn't read books and avoids cultural institutions is a bad example to young people.
Cultural leaders in Scotland said they were seeking to do more to foster better "bridge building and understanding" between Islamic cultures and western attitudes in the aftermath of the Manchester attacks and Middle East volatility.
Sir John told Holyrood's culture committee that "museums around the world" are discussing how they can make sense of the volatile world of political upheaval and terrorist attacks.
But he said: "We now have an American President who makes a virtue of the fact that he doesn't pick up a book and would certainly not know the inside of a museum or an institution.
"What a signal that sends out - what a signal it sends out across the world, out to young people."
Sir John, Director General, National Galleries Scotland, said it is the job of such institutions to "build bridges and promote understanding" and told MSPs he is currently developing a partnership with the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha.
"That's partly been prompted by exactly that notion of how we can share expertise and through working in those ways promote learning about each other's cultures."
Liberal Democrat MSP Tavish Scott said the aftermath of the Manchester bombing and Syria attacks had left a younger generation with a view of Islam garnered from modern technology like mobile phone apps. He contarsted with the great cultural and artistic achievements of Islam which may be "lost forever" because they are being destroyed by Isis in Syria.
Mr Scott asked whether Scotland's galleries and museums have a duty to use their collections to help Scots to "get some sense of what's going on in the world around us at the moment."
He added: "That need is greater now than it's ever been."
Dr Gordon Rintoul, said: "Museums of all shapes and sizes do have a really important role to play in bringing out a better understanding of communities. In our own case, for example, we have collections from cultures literally around the world, including as Tavish Scott said, in the Middle East."
He added: "The key is working with communities to see how we can add value and to see how we can use the national collections or themes arising from the national collections to bring about better dialogue and better understanding."