Mikaela Lefrak

Mikaela Lefrak is WAMU’s Arts and Culture reporter. Before moving into that role, she worked as WAMU’s news producer for Morning Edition.

Lefrak is a Northern Virginia native and a graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont. She received a master’s degree in broadcast journalism from Boston University, where she had the honor of working as the graduate assistant to renowned New York Times media columnist David Carr.

Prior to working at WAMU, Lefrak was an editor at The New Republic, where she produced politics and culture podcasts. She has also produced at PRI’s The World and WGBH Boston, and served as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer in Oakland, California.

If you were designing a museum exhibit that would explain the coronavirus pandemic to future generations, what would you put in it?

Smithsonian curators in Washington, D.C., are trying to answer that question, even as the virus continues to spread in some states. The National Museum of American History and the Anacostia Community Museum have recently launched coronavirus collection projects. A third effort from the National Museum of African American History and Culture will kick off in June.

The new norms of the coronavirus era — wearing face masks, maintaining social distance and conducting conversations through teleconference software — have made life more complicated for most Americans. But for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, they have transformed every day tasks into technological labyrinths, and exposed a number of inequities in local health and government systems.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The monuments and museums of Washington, D.C., are adorned with engraved stone lettering. Some of the most prominent engraving has been done by members of one family for generations. Mikaela Lefrak of member station WAMU spoke to master stone carver Nick Benson as he worked.

MIKAELA LEFRAK, BYLINE: Inside the National Gallery of Art, Nick Benson updates a list of the gallery's trustees by carving names into the limestone wall.

So what are you working on?

America's best-known obelisk reopens to the public on Thursday after more than three years of construction on a new security facility and renovations to its elevator system.

The Washington Monument will again welcome visitors up to its observation deck, where, from more than 500 feet in the air, visitors can see national landmarks including the U.S. Capitol, Washington National Cathedral, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial.

But first, you have to go through security.