Lectures & Seminars

Month

  

Programs listed below are in chronological order.



All Aboard for Union Station

Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

There is no more magnificent portal to the capital than Washington’s Union Station, but even with a late-’80s facelift its Beaux-Arts beauty needs constant tending. Join representatives of the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation at the station to get an inside look at the current restoration project.

The Delights of Costa Rica

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Set off with biodiversity specialist Bob Szaro on a virtual tour of Costa Rica that takes in its mountains, tropical forests, beaches, and wildlife—all part of the mix of elements that define this land of “pura vida,” or “pure life.”

Mary Todd Lincoln: A Dramatic Life

Thursday, January 29, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Abraham Lincoln’s wife endured being caricatured as a shrew, spendthrift, and national embarrassment. Her biographer Jean H. Baker and playwright James Still, author of the upcoming The Widow Lincoln, offer portraits of this often-polarizing figure that contests the conventional wisdom that has encrusted our understanding of a fascinating woman. In cooperation with Ford’s Theatre.

The Art of Stamp Design

Thursday, January 29, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

You’ve likely had her work in your hands—and on your cards and letters. Now meet art director Ethel Kessler, who designed more than 300 beautiful stamps for the US Postal Service, including the now-iconic Breast Cancer Awareness stamp.

Frank Lloyd Wright: His Life, His Work, His Legacy

Saturday, January 31, 2015 at 9:30 a.m.

Architecture and urban studies lecturer Bill Keene offers a portrait of a complex innovator whose life encompassed acclaim and triumph as well as scandal and tragedy. Tom Wright, the architect’s grandson, provides a look at the joys and challenges of living in and maintaining a Wright-designed house in Bethesda. (World Art History Certificate elective)

Smithsonian Newsflash

Thursday, February 5, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Join us in a new innovative series that will look behind headlines and amplify sound bites. The newsworthy topic and featured spearker(s) will be announced the Monday before the program's date.

The Cloisters: Medieval Manhattan

Saturday, February 7, 2015 at 9:30 a.m.

Part urban oasis and part time machine, the Metropolitan Museum’s Cloisters houses some of the world’s most stunning medieval objects and architecture. Art historian Judy Scott Feldman brings to life the era’s heart and soul as reflected in the masterpieces of this collection. (World Art History Certificate elective)

Medieval England Through Its Art and Archaeology

Saturday, February 7, 2015 at 9:30 a.m.

Art historian Lawrence Butler illuminates the history of England from the 7th to 14th centuries by examining treasures from a buried ship, the illuminated Lindsfarne Gospels, the Bayeux Tapestry, and majestic Canterbury Cathedral. (World Art History Certificate elective)

Reading Your Way to a Well-Educated Mind

Saturday, February 7, 2015 at 9:30 a.m.

Does passing a bookshelf remind you of all the titles you’ve promised yourself to someday pick up again but never did? Writer and historian Susan Wise Bauer offers a refresher overview of three genres—the novel, autobiography, and history—that can help you discover new insights and joys as you return to some of your favorite works.

The Cold War

Saturday, February 7, 2015 at 10 a.m.

In the post-WWII era, relations between East and West were shadowed by fear, suspicion, and the possibility of nuclear conflict. Historian Marcus Jones explores the origins and the legacy of this era from an international perspective.

Pierre L’Enfant, the Man Who Designed Washington

Monday, February 9, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

The nation’s founders shaped the philosophical and political vision of a newly independent republic. Pierre L’Enfant translated that vision into physical reality. Author Scott W. Berg examines L’Enfant’s work in the artistic and political context of his times, and how his enduring influence is reflected in today’s Washington.

The Baby in the King Cake and Other Mardi Gras Mysteries

Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

The roots of Mardi Gras, like those of New Orleans itself, are complex, rich, and wonderfully varied. Historian Emily Landau guides you through a lively social history of this pre-Lenten celebration—and offers a king cake tasting, too.

U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia

Thursday, February 12, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Take the rare opportunity to get a more personal glimpse of Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia when they join NPR’s Nina Totenberg for a lively and insightful discussion about their work and interests.

B.J. Novak: One More Thing (and More)

Friday, February 13, 2015 at 7 p.m.

You may know him as Ryan from the The Office, but there’s more to B.J. Novak than you might expect. Hear Novak discuss his path after Harvard and his experiences in the entertainment industry. The program includes a book signing.

Behind the Science with Joe Palca: Insights from Scientific Innovators

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

NPR’s Joe Palca returns to the Smithsonian to sit down with stellar scientists for some engaging and entertaining conversations about the exciting work they do and how it connects to our lives. Tonight's program features Anthony Fauci and global health. Part of a 5-Session Lecture Series.

"Mr. President": An Evening with Martin Sheen

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 at 7 p.m.

In conversation with Ken Walsh, actor Martin Sheen discusses his iconic role in The West Wing, as well its impact on television’s depiction of government and how we view our real-life national leaders.

Fiery Forces: Volcanoes on Earth and Beyond

Wednesday, February 18, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Smithsonian volcanologist Rick Wunderman and geologist Jim Zimbelman survey the science behind the awesome and devastating power of volcanoes—both on our own planet and in extraterrestrial forms.

A Red-Carpet Night with Oscar

Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Build up some buzz for awards night by joining film writer Noah Gittell for an evening that focuses on all things Oscar. The movie-inspired fun includes history and trivia, film clips, a predictions contest, and a chance to join some screen legends (the Madame Tussauds versions, that is) for photos on the red carpet.

African American Lives in the American Revolution

Saturday, February 21, 2015 at 10 a.m.

How did African American people in the Revolutionary era pursue happiness? Historian Richard Bell examines a familiar period from the less-familiar perspective of its enslaved peoples and free persons of color.

A Day at the Musee d’Orsay

Saturday, February 21, 2015 at 10 a.m.

Spend a glorious day with art historian Linda Skalet as she explores the treasures within one of Paris’s most iconic museums. The d’Orsay’s collection—spanning neoclassicism and romanticism to impressionism, expressionism, and art nouveau design—captures the excitement of art in the early modern era. (A French-themed lunch is included.)

Royal Revenge: Charles Spencer on the Fate of the Killers of Charles I

Monday, February 23, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

In early 1648, a tribunal of 135 men did the unthinkable: They condemned a sitting British monarch to death. Historian Charles Spencer—a direct descendant of that king—examines the violent clash of ideals that led to the execution, and the individuals whose fates were determined by a momentous decision.

Bootleggers, Bathtubs, and Speakeasies: Tales From Prohibition

Tuesday, February 24, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Get a taste of the 1920s as you sip some iconic period cocktails (Orange Blossom, anyone?) and hear from two of the co-founders of the Museum of the American Cocktail how determined drinkers thumbed their noses at the killjoys who tried to turn America dry.

Along the Coast of Many Cultures: Croatia from Pula to Dubrovnik

Wednesday, February 25, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

The art and architectural treasures of Croatia reflect centuries of cultural influences, with Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, and Ottomans all leaving their mark. Art historian Aneta Georgievska-Shine examines the legacy of this history.

Billie Holiday: Lady Sings the Blues

Wednesday, February 25, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

When Billie Holiday stepped in front of a microphone, audiences heard more than a one-of-a-kind voice: She revealed a life, in all its pain and triumph. Jazz expert John Edward Hasse follows Holiday’s extraordinary journey from abused Baltimore girl to troubled but brilliant singer. 

Creating the Visual World of Game of Thrones

Thursday, February 26, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Production designer Deborah Riley is responsible for creating the stunning settings against which HBO’s saga of power, family, revenge and romance plays out. Learn how she and a small army of craftsmen give the series its distinctive visual style.

Smithsonian Newsflash

Thursday, February 26, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Join us in a new innovative series that will look behind headlines and amplify sound bites. The newsworthy topic and featured spearker(s) will be announced the Monday before the program's date.

Augustine of Hippo: Christianity at the Crossroads

Saturday, February 28, 2015 at 9:30 a.m.

For nearly two millennia, Augustine’s arguments, insights, and ideas on faith have profoundly shaped the Western intellectual tradition. Augustine scholar Scott MacDonald explores some of those enduringly compelling ideas.

Turning Salt into Gold

Saturday, February 28, 2015 at 1 p.m.

Learn about salt’s history and how it’s shaking things up in today’s culinary world from leading salt expert Mark Bitterman. Enjoy tastings featuring six dazzling artisan-made salts and find out how to use one of nature’s most ancient ingredients to perform miracles in the modern kitchen.

The Table at Downton Abbey: The Art of Dining

Thursday, March 5, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Step into the Grantham dining room with food historian Francine Segan as she offers a guide to the meals and manners of the British aristocracy of the early 20th century.

The Ring Cycle: How Wagner Changed the World

Saturday, March 7, 2015 at 9:30 a.m.

If any work of art deserves to be called epic—in its conception, creation, and influence—it’s the quartet of operas that make up the Ring. As prelude to the 2016 Ring cycle presented by Washington National Opera, Fred Plotkin explores the works in a day highlighted by glorious musical and film recordings.

The Legacy of Andrea Palladio

Saturday, March 7, 2015 at 9:30 a.m.

In a richly illustrated seminar, art historian Bonita Billman traces the hallmarks and features of Palladio’s enduring classical-inspired architecture, from the magnificent villas he created in Renaissance Italy to the country houses and mansions that were built in his spirit by great British architects in the era of the European Grand Tour.

Unbuilt Washington: Alternative Visions

Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Architect and historian Don Hawkins guides a tour of a Washington that never was as he looks at grand but unrealized plans for buildings and monuments that might have given the city a very different character.

The Birth of the Banjo

Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

In a lively musical presentation, period banjo specialist George Wunderlich traces the instrument’s roots in West Africa and the Caribbean, its introduction in America, and its flowering in the 19th century as the instrument crossed from black to white hands and from fields to stages.

Democracy Since 1989: A Questionable Triumph

Thursday, March 12, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

From the fall of the Berlin Wall to the rising Arab Spring, Western pundits have hailed the triumph of democracy. But its promise has been tough to realize in many parts of the world. Learn why this is happening and what should be done to smooth democracy’s path, with historian Charles Ingrao.

Empires of the Adriatic

Saturday, March 14, 2015 at 9:30 a.m.

Explore the history and legacy of the Venetian, Ottoman, and Habsburg empires as they imposed their own distinct version of social, economic, and political rule.

A Day at Hillwood

Saturday, March 14, 2015 at 10 a.m.

Take in the treasures of Marjorie Merriweather Post’s opulent house museum as Hillwood’s director and curators guide you through the collections of Russian and French decorative arts and the estate’s formal gardens.

Coach Gary Williams: Let March Madness Begin!

Monday, March 16, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Legendary University of Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams talks with attorney and sportscaster Phil Hochberg about the game, college athletics, the conference system, and local sports. UMD play-by-play announcer Johnny Holliday and Rich Chvotkin, voice of the Hoyas, join in the conversation.

Fakes, Forgeries and the Art of Deception

Monday, March 16, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

The age-old art of forgery continues today as fakes slip past the experts and wind up in prestigious galleries and museums the world over. Hear stories about some of history’s most prolific forgers and how their infamous “masterpieces” beguiled the art world.

How Ramen Went Global: From Meal-in-a-Cup to High-Style Cuisine

Monday, March 16, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Tonight, George Solt shows ramen’s transformation from a food custom into a worldwide phenomenon. Hosted at the restaurant BUL, the program includes a three-course dinner prepared by Sakuramen, a ramen bar in Adams Morgan.

Behind the Science with Joe Palca: Insights from Scientific Innovators

Tuesday, March 17, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

NPR’s Joe Palca returns to the Smithsonian to sit down with stellar scientists for some engaging and entertaining conversations about the exciting work they do and how it connects to our lives. Tonight's program features Seth Miller and marine biology. Part of a 5-Session Lecture Series.

Erik Larson on the Sinking of the Lusitania

Wednesday, March 18, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Erik Larson, author of The Devil in the White City and In the Garden of Beasts, examines the tragic final crossing of the Lusitania, the disaster that steered America on the road to World War I.

Smithsonian Newsflash

Thursday, March 19, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Join us in a new innovative series that will look behind headlines and amplify sound bites. The newsworthy topic and featured spearker(s) will be announced the Monday before the program's date.

Ancient Peru’s Mysterious Moche

Thursday, March 19, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

They were great builders, farmers, and artisans. Their political systems were among the ancient New World’s most complex. What caused them to disappear? Explore the origins and collapse of this fascinating Andean civilization.

Great Controversies in Early Christianity: The Life and Death of Jesus

Saturday, March 21, 2015 at 9:30 a.m.

Bart Ehrman, a leading authority on the New Testament and the life of Jesus, explores four of the issues historians confront when researching the real story behind the Gospel accounts of the founder of Christianity.

Write the Stories of Your Ancestors

Saturday, March 21, 2015 at 9:30 a.m.

How do you preserve and pass on a family history? Genealogy expert John Colletta explores how to use the facts you’ve discovered in research to craft a compelling narrative that tells the unique story of your family.

Tara Brach: How To Find the Peace Within

Sunday, March 22, 2015 at 3 p.m.

Join Tara Brach, an internationally known teacher of Buddhist meditation, to explore practices of mindfulness and compassion in an afternoon that includes both a presentation and guided meditation.

Navies of the Civil War

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Though the Civil War is remembered for its land battles, naval engagements shaped a significant war on the water. Maritime historian Andrew Jampoler looks at the Union and Confederate naval leaders, strategies, ships, and battles that helped define the conflict’s outcome.

James McPherson: Why the Civil War Still Matters

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 at 7 p.m.

When the Civil War ended, thousands of American lives had been lost—and the nation itself had been changed forever. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James M. McPherson examines why the Civil War remains so deeply embedded in our national psyche and identity.

Principles of Highly Effective Speaking: How To Be Heard, Understood, and Remembered

Saturday, March 28, 2015 at 9:30 a.m.

It’s not just what you say: It’s how you say it. Learn practical strategies to speak with more clarity, confidence, and power in any professional or social setting.

The Glories of French Art and Architecture

Saturday, March 28, 2015 at 10 a.m.

Unparalleled elegance and sophistication are the hallmarks of France’s artistic legacy. Art historian Janetta Rebold Benton surveys the high points of architecture, sculpture, and painting over a span of more than 900 years. (World Art History Certificate elective)

Orchids 101

Sunday, March 29, 2015 at 2 p.m.

LECTURE ONLY: Smithsonian Gardens staff introduce orchid novices to the beautiful species and its history, and provide guidance in choosing the right orchid and keeping it healthy and happy. An optional hands-on workshop portion lets you dig deeper.  

Orchids 101

Sunday, March 29, 2015 at 2 p.m.

LECTURE & WORKSHOP: Smithsonian Gardens staff members introduce orchid novices to the beautiful species and its history, and provide guidance in choosing the right orchid and keeping it healthy and happy. A hands-on workshop portion lets you dig deeper. 

Looking West: Ataturk and the Creation of Modern Turkey

Tuesday, March 31, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

In this evening seminar, learn the fascinating story of Kemal Ataturk, Turkey’s first president, who changed the face of the Ottoman Empire following World War I. Relying on a theme of governance by science and reason rather than by dogma and religion, he dragged a predominately illiterate and lethargic society into the 20th century.

Irving Berlin, The Last of the Troubadours

Tuesday, March 31, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

American music specialist Robert Wyatt takes you through the extraordinary life and  musical achievements of legendary songwriter Irving Berlin.

Back to the top

Share/Save