Art History Alumna Alison Reppert Gerber ’09 Preserves the Past at the Smithsonian
When Alison Reppert Gerber thought of the perfect job in the museum world, she always thought of the Smithsonian Institution.
So she feels exceptionally lucky to have secured a position with the iconic American museum system as Preservation Coordinator for the Smithsonian Archives – the repository for all of the Smithsonian’s internal records.
“Working at the Smithsonian was always the ideal,” she says. “You’re always looking to the Smithsonian for the standard. It was always the pie in the sky, and to be able to have gotten my position was luck. Everybody tells me luck is for the well- prepared, and I was well-prepared, but I think I was a little lucky."
Alison’s path from Seton Hill, where she majored in art history, to the Smithsonian involved numerous internships at a variety of museums – from the Jewish Museum of Maryland to the National Electronics Museum and private conservators.
“Everybody tells me luck is for the well-prepared, and I was well-prepared, but I think I was a little lucky."
After earning her master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University in museum studies, Alison qualified for a government program called Pathways, which provides opportunities for graduates within two years of earning a degree.
Alison’s job at the Smithsonian entails everything having to do with the preservation of the Archives collections – from environmental monitoring and safe storage to overseeing document treatment by preservationists to maintaining best practices for volunteers.
She is also focused on surveying the Archives’ audio-visual collection and working to digitize them to ensure their long-term survival.
In all, she coordinates the preservation of some 41,000 cubic feet of records, offering a glimpse of the history of the Smithsonian.
Seton Hill’s young alumni are making their mark on the world through their work in science and healthcare, finance and business, industry, entertainment and service to those in need. The Spring/Winter 2017 edition of Seton Hill’s Forward magazine featured 30 of these alumni, all under the age of 30. You can find all of their stories here on Seton Hill’s site (just look for the “30 Under 30” icon).