Cori Wegener photo provided by the Minnepolis Institute of Arts

A former major in the U.S. Army Reserves, Cori Wegener brought specialized skills to her job as decorative arts curator at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts for the past 13 years.

She knows what makes armor work, for example, because she spent 11 months in Iraq in 2003-04 when she helped that country's national museum recover after it was looted in the early days of the U.S. invasion. When riding in military transports back then she wore a Kelvar helmet and vest with ceramic plates. The vest alone "can stop 9-millimeter small-arms fire, but with the ceramic plates, it can stop an AK-47 round," she said in a 2006 interview.

Now Wegener's military savvy may help her navigate the corridors of power in Washington, D. C where she will join the staff of the Smithsonian Institution in November. Her new job, Preservation Specialist for Cultural Heritage, is a post for which she is almost uniquely qualified. She will help organize conferences on preservation issues in war zones, civil conflicts and disaster areas where looting might occur. Besides Iraq she worked in Haiti after it was devastated by hurricane winds.

Wegener, who retired from the military in 2004 after 21 years, holds masters degrees from the University of Kansas in political science and art history.  Now she will add the rank G.S. 13 to her resume.

"Yes. I'm a Fed, as they say," she joked recently.

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