Artifacts Make the Connection

While at Moravian, Gallagher had her first opportunities to learn about collections management and exhibit design at the Moravian Historical Society in Nazareth. She was majoring in history and elementary education, but she soon realized that it was the artifacts that had made history come alive for her. Gallagher moved to the D.C. area to begin work on a master’s degree in museum studies. An internship in the office of Historic Alexandria gave her a chance to work in the city’s museums—Gadsby’s Tavern, the Lyceum, the Black History Museum, and Carlyle House.

Today she works in the nation’s museum and its ever-expanding collection of artifacts. In addition to her work on the SAT project, Gallagher is part of a team preparing to relocate some of the NASM collection from the 32 crowded storage buildings of the Garber Facility to the newly constructed Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles International Airport. When the center opens to the public in December 2003, visitors will be able to see many of the artifacts now in storage, especially the larger aircraft and spacecraft that are too big to display at the museum on the Mall. As the move gets closer, Gallagher will help with packing and shipping the artifacts, rehousing them, reporting their condition, preparing them for exhibit, and assisting curators.

When she’s not at the Garber Facility, she spends time working at a friend’s conservation lab on iron artifacts from Thomas Jefferson’s home Poplar Forest near Lynchburg, Va. “It’s quite a change from the work we do on the spacesuits,” she said, “but it’s an opportunity for more hands-on learning.”

That training will serve her well, she believes. She was married in May 2001 to Mike Gallagher, a civil engineer who happens to like museums. Currently they live in Arlington, Va., but Gallagher knows that no matter where they live, she will find a museum or a historical society where she can help preserve the treasures that tell the stories of our country.

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Gallagher will be one of the few who will be driving a tractor-trailor to relocate the various collections to the new Hazy facility.