Reyer is not a curator. Instead, she uses her art background to work with a team to design how artifacts are presented. “I’m not the content expert,” she said. “Each exhibit has a curator who provides facts and chooses an approach for telling a particular story. We take complex content and make it feel accessible.”
Reyer said that “American Spirits” was one of the most challenging exhibits to arrange because of its size and the level of interactivity available for museum-goers.
“American Spirits” debuted in October, and for three years beginning in April, it will travel to cities across the country. It was curated by Daniel Okrent, Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of “Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition.”
Okrent said that the 18th Amendment, which enforced Prohibition, redefined the role of the federal government, in addition to leaving its mark on everything from citizens’ personal habits to the nation’s tax policies.
Interactive elements and immersive environments help bring what Reyer called an interesting and diverse period of American history to life. She said that "Wayne Wheeler's Amazing Amendment Machine," developed by Moey Inc. in Brooklyn, is an important part of the exhibit. The carnival-inspired contraption, named after the famed prohibitionist, traces how the temperance movement culminated in the 18th Amendment.
“Of the 27 amendments, this is by far the sexiest,” she said, referring to the 18th. “There are some amazing artifacts, like Carrie Nation’s hatchet and Al Capone’s guilty verdict. They give a sense of the time period.”
Reyer said she is proud of the work her team put into “American Spirits.” Working on the exhibit, like dozens of others before it, reminded her of her time in high school, taking weekend trips to museums in New York City while growing up in Merrick.
“I spent a lot of time in museums as a kid, but I didn’t know this was possible,” she said. “It’s a tremendous amount of fun, and I’m very lucky.”