Lauren Gleason (BA ’05) is the Site Manager of the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum, a busy historic site museum in Alexandria, Virginia, in the suburbs of Washington, DC. The Apothecary Museum is one of 13 historic sites and museums that comprise Historic Alexandria, all owned and operated by the City of Alexandria, including Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, which on numerous occasions hosted founding fathers John Adams,Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, and George Washington. Lauren is responsible for a wide variety of operations at the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum, including managing visitors’ services, volunteer tour guides, and an exceptional museum shop. She researches and develops interpretive content for tours and educational programs for all ages, and has a hand in many other events and sites around Historic Alexandria.
Lauren has aspired to bring the museum’s historic interpretation into the twenty-first century. She introduced tablet computers to the museum’s guided tours to help visitors contextualize the objects on display and better connect with them. For example, visitors on the tour are introduced to an antique cabinet labeled “dragon’s blood” and are then shown images on the iPad of a dracaena tree (the source of the sap) and an image of the 85-year-old chunks of hardened sap still inside the historic apothecary drawer. Lauren has created programs about such pop culture subjects as Harry Potter and Outlander, sparking the imaginations of the Museum’s visitors and conveying the rich history of both the institution and the science of herbalism. Visitors to the Apothecary Museum are frequently heard to remark after a tour, “That was so much more interesting than I expected!”
While primarily focused on the Apothecary Museum, Lauren is also responsible for booking group and school tours and Girl Scout programs for multiple Historic Alexandria museums. She makes her own clothing for historic balls which she helps manage at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, and even creates historically accurate hair styles for the museum staff and volunteers. Lauren has given presentations about her use of technology in historic sites and pop culture programming at the Virginia Association of Museums annual conference. She also helped organize a community history festival commemorating the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.
Lauren earned a B.A. in Art History at Florida State University while also minoring in Museum Studies and volunteering at the FSU Museum of Fine Arts. She went on to earn her Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) at The George Washington University in Museum Education.