Smithsonian Journeys Experts
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 curates Soviet and Russian components of the Space Race exhibition at the Museum. She also has interests in the history of astrobiology and the history of African Americans 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.
Lewis completed both a bachelor's and a master's degree in Russian and East European Studies at Yale University and completed her dissertation for her PhD in history at George Washington University in 2008. (Her dissertation was on "The Red Stuff: A History of the Public and Material Culture of Early Human Spaceflight in the USSR, 1959-1968.")