The Archives is made up of wonderful, helpful, and hard working individuals who strive to acquire, preserve, and make accessible records that document the history of the Smithsonian Institution. Some of our staff have been at the Smithsonian for 30 plus years, while others are just beginning their tenure here. There will be some changes in the office as we welcome new staff members coming on board this summer who bring their expertise and new ideas to the Archives.
Continuing our series on introducing new staff, I'd like to welcome our new Preservation Coordinator, Alison Reppert Gerber.
What's your educational background?
I received my undergraduate degree in Art History with minors in Chemistry and Religious Studies from Seton Hill University and my graduate degree in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
What do you do at the Smithsonian Institution Archives?
I am the preservation coordinator for the Smithsonian Institution Archives. I work to ensure our collection is preserved through the use of proper housing, environmental monitoring, assessment, and emergency preparedness. This allows our unique materials to be available for the continued use by the institution, researchers, and the general public.
What is the strangest/most interesting thing you have discovered at the Archives so far?
I would have to say the most fascinating thing I've come across so far has been Charles D. Walcott's panoramic photographs of the Canadian Rockies, part of Record Unit 7004 - Charles D. Walcott Collection. These are not only stunningly beautiful, but also showcase early photography methods and document, for the first time, the typography of the mountain range. An excellent example of art and science!
What is the most unexpected thing you’ve learned about working here?
The most unexpected thing has been the breadth of material in our care. There are so many different arms to the Smithsonian and we are entrusted with many of their records, ranging from the mundane to fascinating! You just never know what you'll encounter.
Favorite spot in DC to recommend to visitors?
My favorite spot has to be the National Museum of Women in the Arts because it is the only major museum in the world that highlights and celebrates the achievements of female artists, who would otherwise be overshadowed by their male counterparts.