Ashley (Dally) Hornish, BFA ’04

A photo of Ashley

A space enthusiast from a young age, Ashley (Dally) Hornish, BFA ’04, often daydreamed about becoming an astronaut and exploring the solar system.

As it turned out, art—not science—is her vibe. And while she isn’t working for NASA, she still gets to “geek out” about all things space in her amazingly cool position as an exhibit designer at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

“This job is probably as close as I’ll ever get to going to space, and honestly, now that I am older, I’m fine staying earth-bound,” she laughed.

Ashley is currently the design manager for three brand new galleries opening in the coming years as part of a major renovation project at the museum on the National Mall.

“I love that I am constantly learning new things from my incredibly smart and talented co-workers,” she said. “I come away from an exhibit project knowing so much more than when I started.”

Another photo of Ashley

Her favorite artifacts are Ohio-related, of course: John Glenn’s Mercury Friendship 7 capsule, Neil Armstrong’s space suit, and the Wright Brothers’ Wright Flyer.

“As a former art major, I also love that we have an art collection,” she said. “And in fact, one of my new exhibits will have a wall dedicated to displaying art.”

Her creative role sometimes takes her on the road. She ventured to the Nevada desert to get a panoramic photo of Beer Bottle Pass and she visited the Goldstone complex in the California desert for photos of an old hydrogen maser that provided accurate timing to the Deep Space Network.

She and her team also solve huge challenges—ones literally the size of a Lear jet and Lunar Module. How do you possibly display these large items in the museum? “It takes a lot of coordination and planning,” she said.

Ashley traces her career success back to ONU where numerous outside-the-classroom experiences—playing volleyball, running track, serving as editor-in-chief of the yearbook, designing her senior capstone exhibit—taught her about leadership and teamwork.

“Professor Ray Schuck started the museum studies minor program my freshman year. Perfect timing! I loved all those classes and I’m not sure I would be where I am now if I had not had that core of knowledge,” she said. She also credits her ONU art professors for inspiring her to “experience the world beyond Ada.”

After ONU, she worked for the city of Defiance’s historian, then moved to Washington D.C. to get her master’s degree in museum studies at George Washington University. An internship at the National Air and Space Museum opened the door to her present position.

“I am so proud of the work the museum does,” she said. “So many of my coworkers put in 110% effort to achieve our mission. That level of commitment is contagious.”