Merrick native Stephanie Reyer said that her former Calhoun High School history teacher, Fred Harrison, would probably be surprised to learn that she is now vice president of exhibitions at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
But the former art and design student’s academic journey and career have taken her from watching “Hair” in Harrison’s classroom to helping open “The 1968 Exhibit” at the National Constitution Center.
Reyer, 39, who is engaged to be married in April, was recently put in charge of the most ambitious exhibit she has ever worked on at the center: “American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition,” which spans the dawn of the temperance movement in the early 1800s through the unprecedented repeal of a constitutional amendment during the Great Depression.
After graduating from Calhoun in 1991, Reyer earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Cooper Union in 1995. She went on to study at the graduate level at the Basel School of Design in Switzerland.
She then returned to New York, where she worked as associate director of exhibition graphic design at the American Museum of Natural History for nine years. Her contributions to the design of exhibits like the Milstein Family Hall of Ocean Life earned her awards from the American Association of Museums and the Society for Environmental Graphic Design.
But Reyer soon went abroad again, this time to Greece, receiving a Fulbright fellowship to teach design at Greek museums with limited resources. “I was there to show them how to fill exhibitions, and how to make seemingly dull artifacts fun and engaging,” she said.
Since February 2008, Reyer has worked at the National Constitution Center, whose mission is to expand awareness and understanding of the Constitution. She works on four to seven exhibits per year, with subject matter ranging from “robust constitutional history to some beloved Americana.”