Lectures & Seminars

Month

  

Programs listed below are in chronological order.



The Soaring Trajectory of Sally Ride’s Life: Remembering America’s First Woman in Space

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Lynn Sherr, a former ABC News reporter who covered the space program, discusses her new biography of the daring and brilliant woman who broke NASA’s “celestial ceiling.”

Swedish Art at the Ambassador’s Residence

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Discover tapestries, period furniture, modern crystal, and a significant collection of Swedish art on a private visit to the home of Ambassador Bjorn Lyrvall. Karin Alexis, an art and architectural historian, sets the paintings and sculpture into an historical framework of Swedish culture.  

Thomas Jefferson: A President Revealed Through His Letters

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Thomas Jefferson, an inveterate correspondent, left behind roughly 18,000 letters. J. Jefferson Looney, who served as editor (and sometimes, detective) on an edition of the documents of his final years, reveals the insights into Jefferson’s brilliant mind that these materials offer.

Synthesizing Art and Science Through the Senses: Exploring the Aesthetics of DNA

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

A panel of artists, scholars, and scientists comes together for a fascinating conversation on how arts and popular culture can provide unique insights into the narrative of human history told through our DNA. Afterward, raise a glass to the science and the art of winemaking in a special tasting.

The Wars of the Roses: Family Feud, Plantagenet Style

Thursday, September 25, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Tudor and Renaissance scholar Carol Ann Lloyd Stanger looks the clash of the Yorks and Lancasters, exploring how family dysfunction played out on England’s national stage—and its history.

When Paris Went Dark: The City of Light Under German Occupation

Saturday, September 27, 2014 at 9:30 a.m.

Author Ronald C. Rosbottom brings to life the grim and dangerous days of wartime Paris, evoking the detail of daily life in a city under military and civilian occupation and the brave people who fought against it.

Downsizing with Style: Living Large in Compact Spaces

Saturday, September 27, 2014 at 10 a.m.

Designer Lauri Ward knows that less square footage doesn’t have to lessen comfort, function, or elegance in a downsized home. She shares some great decorating strategies for getting the most out of smaller spaces.

You Said, I Said: How Conversations Work

Saturday, September 27, 2014 at 10:30 a.m.

This lively program led by linguist Anne Curzan examines the details of conversational dynamics, and is filled with great practical tips for navigating everyday exchanges at work, home, out on the town, and online.

Bob Colacello on Andy Warhol

Monday, September 29, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Though Andy Warhol coined the phrase “famous for 15 minutes,” he’s never been out of the spotlight since he unveiled those now-iconic soup cans in the early 1960s. Biographer, pal, and confidant Bob Colacello offers a highly personal portrait of the artist as a new edition of his book, Holy Terror: Andy Warhol Close Up, makes its appearance.

Richard Nixon’s Secret White House Tapes: Echoes of a Cover-up

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 at 7 p.m.

Historian Ken Hughes, a research specialist on the White House tapes, unravels how the Watergate cover-up connects to wider revelations of secrets and lies in the Nixon administration.

Amazing Iceland

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Glaciers, volcanoes, hot springs—and Vikings—produced a rich tapestry of natural and human history in Iceland. Geologist Jim Zimbelman provides a personal guide to the island nation, as well as some great tips for visitors to this cool country that’s become a hot travel destination.

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War

Thursday, October 2, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Author Karen Abbott reveals how charm, disguise, daring, and a steady trigger finger propelled a quartet of remarkable women through dangerous intrigues.

An Afternoon in Paris: Lunch at Le Diplomate

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 12 p.m.

Savor a private lunch planned by chef Michael Abt, who heads the kitchen at this runaway hit bistro, and you’ll swear 14th Street looks a lot like your favorite arrondissement.

African Edens: On Safari with Russell Gammon

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Russell Gammon, a professional guide and third-generation Zimbabwean, leads you to two of Africa’s most iconic safari destinations—the Okavango river delta in Botswana and the Serengeti plains—to explore the continent’s stunning natural beauty and the wildlife of the wilderness.

Oracles, Chimeras, and Bears, Oh My: Is There Science Behind Ancient Stories?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

What if some of the fantastic creatures and places that are the stuff of legends actually might have existed? Science writer Sarah Zielinski looks at evidence from the natural world that could have inspired ten strange and familiar stories.

Vint Cerf and the Making of the Internet: From DARPA to Darn Near Everywhere

Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Forty years ago, Vint Cerf was one of the visionaries who developed the communications protocols that allow computers everywhere to share data. Now, 25 years after the Internet changed our lives, he reflects on the birth of the cyber-communications revolution.

Giacomo Puccini: The Man Who Loved Women

Thursday, October 9, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Mimi, Tosca, Turandot, Butterfly, and Manon: Their music touches your soul and their stories break your heart. Opera expert Fred Plotkin explores Puccini’s gallery of unforgettable heroines, and singers from Washington National Opera perform.

Umbria, Italy’s “Cuore Verde”

Thursday, October 9, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Food historian Francine Segan leads a delightful virtual tour the “Green Heart of Italy,” with Perugia, Assisi, Spoleto, and Orvieto among the stops on the itinerary. And get a distinctive taste of the region in a tasting of wine and truffle products. 

USS Monitor: Symbol, Landmark, and Sanctuary

Saturday, October 11, 2014 at 10 a.m.

The ironclad USS Monitor changed the course of the Civil War—and naval combat forever. Historians and scientists, part of an ongoing conservation and research project at the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, examine the historic warship’s significance from a variety of perspectives.

Henry Rollins on the DC Punk Scene

Tuesday, October 14, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Hometown boy Henry Rollins recalls his role in the influential hardcore punk scene of 1980s Washington and the trailblazing artists it spawned.

The Wyeth Dynasty: The Worlds of N.C., Andrew, and Jamie Wyeth

Tuesday, October 14, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Over more than a century, three generations of Wyeths have created a collective portrait of America. Art historian Bonita Billman traces the family tradition reflected in their disparate subjects and styles.

Birds and Humans: Exploring a Timeless Connection

Thursday, October 16, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Master birder Victor Emanuel explains why birds have fascinated us since ancient times, as well as how the observation of these winged creatures can deeply affect our lives in unexpected ways.

Faith and Fantasy: The Medieval Illuminated Manuscript

Thursday, October 16, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Art historian Judy Scott Feldman looks at the ways in which the monk-artists who created sumptuous religious texts such as the Book of Kells used the Celtic love of intricate pattern and dazzling color to leave a lasting impact on the art of Europe’s early Middle Ages and beyond.

Documented: Journalist Jose Antonio Vargas on Life as an Undocumented Immigrant

Monday, October 20, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

He’s a Pulitzer Prize winner who has interviewed Al Gore for Rolling Stone and Mark Zuckerberg for the New Yorker—and an undocumented immigrant. Jose Antonio Vargas discusses his life as an American with the Newseum’s Frank Bond.

DC’s Top Women Chefs

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Washington's dining scene seems to be growing exponentially by the minute. Many of the new powers behind the new established restaurants are women. Tonight, In a conversation moderated by Jessica Sidman, food writer at Washington City Paper, star chefs Nora Pouillon, Ris Lacoste, and Marjorie Meek-Bradley discuss what it’s like to work in restaurant industry, and what’s next on the region’s culinary horizon.

Dr. Livingstone’s Lost Diary: Technology Opens a Window on History

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Written in berry juice on newspapers, the contents of the 1871 field diary on which legendary explorer David Livingstone recorded his observations on the African slave trade faded to near-invisibility in just a few years. A team of scholars, scientists, and spectral imaging experts have revealed his words again.

An Enchanted Evening with Rodgers and Hammerstein

Thursday, October 23, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Robert Wyatt celebrates the team whose work redefined the structure, spirit, and sound of the American musical.

Confucius and Friends: The Golden Age of Chinese Philosophy

Saturday, October 25, 2014 at 9:30 a.m.

Chinese history scholar Edward McCord illuminates the precepts of the golden age of Chinese philosophy (6th to 2nd centuries B.C.), which would provide a lasting foundation for East Asian culture and society for the next 2,000 years. 

The Russian Empire: The Creation of a Global Giant

Saturday, October 25, 2014 at 9:30 a.m.

As the current struggle between Ukraine and Russia demands our attention, there are some who worry we may be witnessing attempts to reconstitute the former Russian Empire. Historian George Munro provides insights into the people and events that led to the empire’s creation and a key to understanding the issues at play today.

Oriental Rugs: Beauty Underfoot

Saturday, October 25, 2014 at 10 a.m.

Prized for their beauty, Oriental rugs have been woven in the Near East for more than 4,000 years—and coveted as objects of splendor for just as long. If you are considering purchasing one for your home, listen to antique rug experts Michael Seidman, Tom Xanakis, and Rick Seyford talk about the history of these objects and provide tips on what to look for (or look out for) when buying a rug.

Halloween Changes Its Disguise: Has the Witching Season Grown Up?

Monday, October 27, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Nobody—except maybe zombies—thinks of Halloween as a romantic holiday. Daniel Gifford, a holiday scholar, illustrates how a century ago buxom witches and swooning cupids were part of the day’s iconography—and reflected the changing social climate in America.

Inside the Six-Day War

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

It took Israel only six days in June 1967 to immobilize the airpower of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, but the legacy of that lightning war still shapes the seemingly intractable search for Mideast peace. Ralph Nurnberger, a professor of international relations at Georgetown University, uncovers the roots of the war and reveals little-known events leading up to it.

Dave Broom’s World Atlas of Whisky

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Whisky expert Dave Broom leads a toast to the history, lore, and enjoyment of this versatile spirit. And raise your own at a tasting that follows the program.

Nelson Rockefeller—An American Original: With Biographer Richard Norton Smith

Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 7 p.m.

Before he was 30, he had helped his father develop Rockefeller Center and his mother establish the Museum of Modern Art. At 32, he was Franklin Roosevelt’s wartime coordinator for Latin America. As New York’s four-term governor, he set national standards in education, the environment, and urban policy. Biographer Richard Norton Smith discusses the always-fascinating life of Nelson Rockefeller.

Shifting Power in the Opera House: Creative Dramas, Prima Donnas, and the Evolution of an Art

Saturday, November 1, 2014 at 9:30 a.m.

Whose voice dominates the world of opera: the composer, librettist, director, conductor, singer, designer, or manager? Saul Lilienstein traces the shifts from one center of artistic power to the next as he covers five centuries of evolution in this most sublime of arts.

Stonehenge Yields Its Secrets: An Ambitious Project Probes the Stone Circle’s Mysteries

Saturday, November 1, 2014 at 10 a.m.

The Stonehenge Riverside Project led by archaeologist Michael Parker Pearson has produced a wealth of new information about this mysterious stone circle on Salisbury Plain—and overturned previous theories about its creators, origins, and uses.

Presidential Term Limits: Is Their Time Up?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

In a lively, interactive event, hear presidential and constitutional scholars explore the issue of terms limits, and then decide for yourself: Should presidents be allowed to serve more than two terms?

The Secret History of Wonder Woman

Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Historian and New Yorker writer Jill Lepore mixes early women’s-rights activism, pulp comics, an unconventional marriage, and the invention of the lie detector as she traces William Moulton Marston’s creation of the wildly popular female superhero.

Chef Dominique Ansel: Sweet Secrets from a Pastry Master

Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Dominique Ansel grabbed the nation’s attention last year with his creation of the Cronut, the croissant-doughnut hybrid. In this conversation with Todd Kliman, dining editor of Washingtonian magazine, Ansel shares the secrets to transforming humble ingredients into the most tempting and satisfying pastries imaginable. Be sure to stay for samples of Ansel’s Christmas Morning Cereal.

An Evening with John Cleese

Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 7 p.m.

Meet the Minister of Silly Walks himself, comic genius John Cleese. Tonight, in an interview with NPR’s “Weekend Edition Saturday” host Scott Simon, he shares the stories behind his success, one laugh at a time.

Existentialism: The Human Search for Meaning

Saturday, November 8, 2014 at 9:30 a.m.

Francis J. Ambrosio of Georgetown University examines the origins, themes, and influences of the cultural and philosophical movement that grew out of—and helped define—the 20th century.

In Search of the Emerald Isle’s Many Colors

Saturday, November 8, 2014 at 9:30 a.m.

Discover much more than 50 shades of green when travel writer Reid Bramblett shares tips on the country’s best and sets you on the road to discovering the magic—old and new—found only in Ireland.

Chris Matthews: When Politics Wasn’t Hardball

Wednesday, November 12, 2014 at 7 p.m.

The television host recalls how his former boss, House Speaker Tip O’Neill, the ultimate Washington insider, forged an unlikely working relationship with Ronald Reagan, his polar opposite.

Istanbul: The World in a City

Thursday, November 13, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

For centuries, Istanbul has been a city where Europe and Asia meet, producing a fabled and fascinating mix of cultures, cuisines, and traditions. Travel writer Nigel Gilchrist opens its wonders.

Maimonides and Thomas Aquinas: Medieval Theologies, Modern Relevance

Thursday, November 13, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Ori Soltes, Goldman professorial lecturer in theology and fine arts at Georgetown University, considers how Maimonides (1135–1204) and Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225–74)—two giants of theology—offer parallel yet unique visions and how their thought is remarkably relevant to life in the 21st century.

Florence and Venice: An Artistic Tale of Two Renaissance Cities

Saturday, November 15, 2014 at 9:30 a.m.

This fascinating seminar explores the tale of two cities during the Renaissance—Florence and Venice, rich, confident, magnificently beautiful, and powerhouses of creativity—and the artists they nurtured, including the contrasting geniuses of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Titian.

Making the Most of Your Memory

Saturday, November 15, 2014 at 9:30 a.m.

Neurologist Barry Gordon, founder of the Memory Clinic at Johns Hopkins, looks at how memory works and how to sharpen it at any age.

The Black Sea: Civilizations at the Crossroads of Europe and Asia

Saturday, November 15, 2014 at 10 a.m.

From antiquity to our own day, the Black Sea has bridged civilizations, continents, empires, religious traditions, and strategic interests. Journey into the past and present of this fascinating region, from Greek explorations to the glories of Ottoman Istanbul to the current issues in Ukraine.

The Delicious World of Charcuterie

Monday, November 17, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Prosciutto...duck confit…pancetta…chorizo sausage…country bacon: They’re all part of one of today’s hottest food trends. Jason Story of Washington’s Three Little Pigs Charcuterie and Salumi offers an inviting overview for both new fans and aficionados.

The “Chicken from Hell” and the Last American Dinosaurs

Tuesday, November 18, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

The 500-pound feathered dinosaur dubbed the “Chicken from Hell” was an extraordinary creature. Join one of its discoverers, paleontologist Hans Sues, as he discusses the rich trove of late-Cretaceous-era dinosaurs found in the rocks of the Hell Creek Formation.

Inside Operations: The FBI’s “Ghost Stories” and Other Deep-Cover Cases

Tuesday, November 18, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

They’re just ordinary Americans—who answer to the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service. An FBI historian and counterintelligence staff members uncover how spies become part of the neighborhood.

Behind the Science with Joe Palca: Insights from Scientific Innovators

Tuesday, November 18, 2014 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 Eva Emerson and the public's understanding of science. Part of a 5-Session Lecture Series.

The Spanish Inquisition

Wednesday, November 19, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Amy Leonard, associate professor in the department of history at Georgetown University, discusses the myths and realities of the Spanish Inquisition, from its inception in the 15th century as a heresy court to monitor the Moorish and Jewish converts to Christianity to its part in the “Black Legend” of Spanish imperial history.

1939: Hollywood’s Best Year

Wednesday, November 19, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

It was a year that gave us classics including Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and so many movies we love. Learn why 1939 marked the pinnacle of the studio system, and how its films defined a unique cultural moment in America.

How the Criminal Mind Works: Recognizing the Face of the Psychopath

Thursday, November 20, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Forensic behavior expert Mary Ellen O’Toole provides some insights into the minds and behaviors of psychopaths responsible for shocking crimes—on the streets and in the corporate world.

Amazons! Finding the Ancient World’s Real Warrior Women

Thursday, November 20, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Their prowess was the stuff of many cultures’ legends. New archeological discoveries point to evidence that women warriors could actually be found on the battlefield—not just in storytellers’ imaginations.

Dorie Greenspan: Desserts with a French Accent

Friday, November 21, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

In her new book Baking Chez Moi, Dorie Greenspan chronicles the sweet side of her Parisian kitchen adventures, focusing on the what she and her French friends bake at home, the pastries she’s loved from travels through France, and what she’s been inspired to invent and adapt from the city's markets and the country's traditions. 

Pivotal Paintings in the History of Art

Saturday, November 22, 2014 at 9:30 a.m.

Over the years, masterworks have appeared that are so bold and revolutionary they forever altered artistic vision. Today, artist and art historian Joseph Cassar analyzes eight such paintings, from Giotto’s Lamentation (1305) to Velazquez’s Las Meninas (1656) and Manet’s Les Dejeuner sur L’Herbe (1863) and considers the impact each has had on the course of art history.

Discover Your Immigrant Ancestors’ Stories

Saturday, November 22, 2014 at 10 a.m.

Genealogy expert John Colletta guides you in researching your own family’s history within the broad sweep of European migration to North America. He offers practical tips to deepen your investigation in the records of your ancestors’ native country.

The Norman Invasion of 1066: The Struggle for the Crown and the Future of England

Monday, December 1, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

The Battle of Hastings opened a bitter, centuries-long rivalry between France and England. Historian Mary Frances Giandrea traces the origins of the Norman invasion and the devastating impact of William the Conqueror’s victory.

Celebrating Robert Frost: An American Poet

Tuesday, December 2, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Follow an American original down the road less traveled. Author Daniel Stashower explores Frost’s life and legacy, and actor Scott Sedar reads a selection of the poet’s most celebrated works.

The Women of the Wars of the Roses

Wednesday, December 3, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Tudor and Renaissance scholar Carol Ann Lloyd Stanger introduces seven powerful women who helped spin and shred the web of conspiracies that blanketed the English throne.

The Surge of the Factions: What's Become of the Vital Center?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014 at 7 p.m.

As the ideological gap between both parties continues to wide, Ken Walsh, U.S. News & World Report’s chief White House correspondent, moderates a spirited panel discussion about the political divide.

Sacred Foods of India

Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Food and travel writer Monica Bhide leads you through the temples, mosques, and gurudwaras of India’s most prominent religions by way of their sacred foods. Then, enjoy a buffet reception prepared by Indique in Cleveland Park.

The Reconstruction Era, 1865–1877: The Struggle To Mend a Nation

Saturday, December 6, 2014 at 9:30 a.m.

As the 150th anniversary of the Reconstruction era approaches, historian Michael Ross considers how this tumultuous chapter in our history redefined the rights of all Americans.

Van Gogh and the Painters of the Petit Boulevard

Saturday, December 6, 2014 at 9:30 a.m.

In this richly illustrated seminar, art historian Bonita Billman explores the lives and careers of van Gogh and other notable artists in Paris and their depictions of the celebrities and scenes of everyday life in Montmartre—the night life and low life of a bohemian world.

Cultural Capitals of Former East Germany

Saturday, December 6, 2014 at 9:30 a.m.

Since the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the cities of Dresden, Leipzig, Weimar, and East Berlin have emerged renewed, vigorous, and ready to make their mark once again on the world stage. Explore the history, culture, and sites of these cities in an illustrated seminar led by cultural and music historian Carol Reynolds.

Behind the Science with Joe Palca: Insights from Scientific Innovators

Tuesday, December 16, 2014 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 John Mather and the origins of the universe. Part of a 5-Session Lecture Series.

Behind the Science with Joe Palca: Insights from Scientific Innovators

Tuesday, January 20, 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 Carol Greider and molecular biology. Part of a 5-Session Lecture Series.

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.

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.

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