As the head of the Exhibits Design department of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, Beatrice Matkovic Mowry ’79 handles budgets, serves as a consultant to senior leadership of the museum and ensures that spatial and visual elements of exhibitions and public spaces are compatible with the architecture of the buildings. Her department is currently overseeing the redesign of all of the exhibits and public spaces in the National Air and Space Museum during a major renovation that is scheduled to be completed in 2025. She started at the Museum, where she’s now worked for 41 year, as an intern during her college years in 1982. Beatrice holds a MFA in Visual Communications from George Washington University, and she currently resides in Annapolis, Md., with her spouse, whom she met racing sailboats. Together, they have two children who recently graduated from college and two cats. Besides sailing, which Beatrice and her spouse still find time to do occasionally, they enjoy native gardening and plant-based cooking.

Q: Think back to what you wanted to do when you were younger. Is it what you’re doing now?
When I was young, I wanted to be an architect, and I would draw floor plans for dream houses. Then, I wanted to be an astronomer. I read a lot of science fiction as a teenager and even did my ISP (Independent Senior Project) at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in the Solar Astronomy department. Interestingly, designing exhibitions for the National Air and Space Museum marries those two passions.

Q: What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Thinking about all the work I have to do! With the Museum renovation going on, we have a lot of challenges each day, but I am lucky to work with an amazing group of people. I love that I learn something new almost every day.

Q: What are you most proud of?
My kids! They just graduated from college: my son from Boston University in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in aerospace (wonder where he got that from) and a minor in computer engineering and my daughter from the University of Maryland School of Journalism with a second degree in psychology. In addition, I’m thrilled with the new exhibitions that my colleagues are creating at the National Air and Space Museum.

Q: Describe your Garrison experience in one word.

Q: If you could give a graduating Senior one piece of advice, what would it be?
Do internships! I tell every young person to explore working in different environments to help them find what they might be interested in and even what they might not be interested in.

Q: What are you most looking forward to?
Someday having the time to travel and volunteer for environmental work. I also have a million projects going on in my house and garden that I hope to have time to finish.

This article was originally published in the 2023 Garrison Forest Magazine.