We’re excited to introduce Faces of NCM, a recurring column designed to give you a behind-the-scenes look at the inner (and sometimes outer!) workings of the National Children’s Museum. In our inaugural post, we’re profiling Veronica Szalus, NCM’s exhibit director. Veronica has worked on many projects with NCM, including exhibit design and fabrication at the Capital Children’s Museum as well as project conceptualization, exhibit development and art direction for the newly opened National Children’s Museum.
You’ve been with the Museum for a long time. Tell us about your position and what you do.
I’m responsible for developing the look and feel of our exhibits. I also work with our education team to make sure our exhibits relate closely to our visitors’ programmatic experience.
What’s your favorite part about your job?
Working with wonderful people, and having an opportunity to think creatively about our space. Also, designing ways to interpret educational content is very exciting!
What types of experiences led you to where you are today?
I’m also an installation artist and have always been interested in art. I started as a jewelry designer and then went to Pratt to study industrial design. Industrial design is a field that relates to consumer goods, and I had an opportunity to do a lot of work with space design, which I grew to love. From that point on, I sought out opportunities where I could combine looking at art and space – installation and exhibit design became the natural manifestation of what I love to do.
Back to NCM, you, of course, played a heavy role in designing our 3 & Under gallery. Who’s your favorite Sesame Street character?
Big Bird! Although Oscar’s pretty alright too.
What should NCM visitors look forward to?
Definitely the integration of exhibits and programs. Our exhibits have a lot of richness and depth, and truly immerse visitors into different micro environments, like Our World‘s world culture and civic engagement components. But we also look to take that experience one step further, using programs (like our roaming actors) and educators on the floor to serve as a platform for providing additional interaction with our exhibits.
Do you have a favorite children’s book?
I love The Lorax by Dr. Seuss.
What’s your favorite vegetable?
Fresh farm lima beans.
If you could be any animal, what would it be?
Perhaps a dolphin; I love the ocean. And there’s an awful lot of unchartered oceanic territory to explore!