| Dr. Valerie Neal
Collection: Human spaceflight –Space Shuttle and International Space Station
Dr. Valerie Neal joined the Museum as a curator in 1989 and is responsible for artifact collections from the Space Shuttle era and International Space Station, most prominently the orbiter Discovery. She led the Museum’s effort to prepare shuttle test vehicle Enterprise for permanent display and to acquire Spacelab, SpaceShipOne, and the Manned Maneuvering Unit for the national collection. She worked closely with NASA and Museum staff to orchestrate the transfer of Discovery to the Smithsonian and the release of Enterprise back to NASA in 2012. She has curated two major exhibitions: Where Next Columbus? on the challenges of future exploration, and Space Race.
Dr. Neal’s publications include two edited books on space exploration, Spaceflight: A Smithsonian Guide (1995) and Where Next, Columbus? The Future of Space Exploration (1994). Her articles on shuttle history have appeared in History and Technology and Space Policy. She has been instrumental in the production of two Smithsonian Channel documentaries about the shuttle. Her current projects are completing a book and exhibition on spaceflight in and beyond the Space Shuttle era.
Before joining the Museum, Dr. Neal spent a decade as a writer, editor, and manager for some 25 NASA publications on shuttle and Spacelab missions; the Hubble Space Telescope and other great observatories; the space sciences; and NASA history. She also participated in underwater astronaut-training activities and worked on the mission management support team for four shuttle missions.
She earned a PhD in American studies from the University of Minnesota, following an MA in American studies from the University of Southern California, and a BA in English and history from Texas Christian University. She has taught at the University of Minnesota, the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and Vanderbilt University.
Dr. Valerie Neal's Publication List (PDF)
Links and projects:
Space Race Exhibition
Spaceflight: A Smithsonian Guide
Moving Beyond Earth