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Ohio Northern Graduate, Ashley Dally, Soars as a Graphic Designer

How Things Fly ExhibitBy Jack Palmer, Crescent-News
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Ashley Dally knows something about flying through air.

A skilled high jumper in high school and college track and field, the 2000 Defiance High School alumnae currently serves as exhibit graphic design contractor at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

"I have to keep pinching myself, this is such an amazing opportunity," said Dally. "I am gaining practical knowledge and experience, while still using my creativity. Things could not have worked out better."

Dally began her tenure with the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in July as a graphic design intern, designing new graphic panels for the "How Things Fly" exhibit, the Smithsonian's most popular attraction.

"This is a very hands-on, interactive exhibit," said Dally. "Visitors learn how things fly. They explore the nature of gravity and air, how wings work, supersonic flight, aircraft and rocket propulsion, flying in space. The exhibit has been open since 1996, but it's updated constantly."

When the internship ended in October, Dally was immediately hired as an exhibit graphic design contractor for the exhibit.

"Right now I'm replacing the graphic panels about the principles of flight," she said. "That process should be completed by March. From March until May I'll be involved with directed research in 3-dimensional design."

Dally, who earned an undergraduate degree in graphic design and museum studies from Ohio Northern University in 2004, is a second-year graduate student at George Washington University. She is on schedule to earn a master of arts in museum studies (with concentration in exhibit design) next May. She also works part-time as a designer and production assistant at Matt Mendelsohn Photography in Arlington, Va.

"Working at a museum was always in the back of my mind," she said. "My undergraduate minor was in museum studies, and I just needed to realize that's what I wanted to do. George Washington is one of the best museum studies programs in the country."

After earning her undergraduate degree from ONU, she worked three years as a graphics designer at The Crescent-News and also served as exhibit designer and registrar for the Defiance city historian's office.

Through city historian Randy Buchman, Dally was introduced to the Andrew Tuttle collection. She personally inventoried and catalogued the mammoth 5,000-plus-piece collection, including over 3,000 coins. The Tuttle property also featured sculptures and artifacts from around the world, including American Indian artifacts, as well as a huge amount of stamps and several original documents from the late 1800s.

"I loved working on the Tuttle collection and I'm very thankful for the opportunity to gain experience on such a broad collection," she said. "There were so many interesting items and it provided a good base for me. I've even written some of my graduate school papers on what I did with that collection."

Dally moved to the Arlington area in 2007, and landed an interview for a graphic design position. Her interviewer commented that the projects in her portfolio from her time as a design major at Ohio Northern were more sophisticated and well thought out than the ones he saw at big art schools.

"I loved ONU and feel it definitely prepared me for my career," said Dally. "I'm still in contact with many of my professors and friends in the design department."

Dally is engaged to be married next September to former Tinora High School track coach Cory Hornish, who currently works as a tour guide at the new $621 million Capitol Visitors Center which opened to the public Dec. 2.

"My goal is to stay in the Washington, D.C. area," she stated. "I want to find a full-time job working at a museum or a firm that does exhibit design."

image: from the Smithsonian Institute