Dr. Cathleen Lewis is curator of International Space Programs and Spacesuits at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, specializing in Soviet and Russian programs. Lewis has completed both bachelor’s and a master’s degrees in Russian and East European Studies at Yale University and completed her dissertation for her PhD in History, “The Red Stuff: A History of the Public and Material Culture of Early Human Spaceflight in the USSR, 1959-1968,” at George Washington University in 2008.
Lewis curates Soviet and Russian components of Space Race exhibition at the Museum. She also has interests in the history of astrobiology and the history of blacks in aviation and spaceflight. Between 1998 - 2007 she chaired the Museum-wide Collections Committee. In the past, Lewis was chief curator in the development process for a new gallery, Dream to Fly.
Her current research is on the history of the public and popular culture of Russian fascination with the idea of human spaceflight in the Soviet Union. She has written about the artifacts in the Smithsonian’s Soviet and Russian collection and has published articles comparing the Soviet and American approaches to exhibiting spaceflight during the Space Race and the history of film portrayals of spaceflight prior to Yuri Gagarin’s historic flight. She is also working on a comparative history of the development of American and Russian spacesuits.
The RTX Living in the Space Age Hall will provide insight into space technologies and infrastructure that are largely invisible to the public but have a profound impact on our daily lives. The exhibition will cover topics from the beginning of the Space Age in the mid-20th century to the present and beyond.
This exhibit celebrated the Soviet Union and United States' achievements of launching the first human beings into space in 1961, and examines the technological challenges and public impact, as well as the secrecy surrounding the Soviet effort.