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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

Art & Architecture

Painters in Provence: From Van Gogh to Matisse

The South of France, with its glorious light and varied vistas, has long been a magnet for plein-air painters. Art historian Bonita Billman looks into the inspiration that places such as Avignon, Arles, St. Tropez, Nice, and others provided for the brilliantly colored works produced by 19th- and early-20th century painters. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Date of event
Saturday, April 18, 2020 - 9:30 a.m.

The Best of Brooklyn

Brooklyn offers plenty of delights for lovers of art, music, nature, and of course, food. On this two-day visit, arts journalist and former Brooklynite Richard Selden introduces you to several of the borough’s top attractions.

Date of event
Depart: Sunday, April 19, 2020 - 7:00 a.m.
Return: Monday, April 20, 2020 - 9:30 p.m.

George Washington in Alexandria

No other location is as associated with George Washington as Alexandria, a place he considered it his hometown. Join author and historian Garrett Peck as follows Washington’s footsteps through Old Town’s alleyways, rustic taverns, churches, 18th-century houses, and historic waterfront.

Date of event
Sunday, April 19, 2020 - 2:00 p.m.

Edward Hopper: American Modernist

Explore the life and career of Edward Hopper, one of the great American realists of modern art, with art historian Bonita Billman. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date of event
Monday, April 20, 2020 - 6:45 p.m.

Islamic Art and Architecture: Empires, Spirituality, and Luxury Trade

Art historian Lawrence Butler highlights examples of historic Islamic art and architecture from the 7th century through the early-modern period that embody its defining spirituality, luxury, and princely themes. (World Art History Certificate core course, 1 credit)

Date of event
Friday, May 1, 2020 – 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Saturday, May 2, 2020 – 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

A Century of Co-ops in the District

Since 1920, cooperatives—both purpose-built and conversions—have been distinctive features of some of the city’s most historic neighborhoods, from Kalorama to Cathedral Heights, Foggy Bottom to Southwest Waterfront. They also represent a wide range of architectural styles and periods. Get an inside look at several of these fabled co-oops during a day guided by Barry Moss, former president of the D.C. Cooperative Housing Coalition.

Date of event
Saturday, May 2, 2020 - 9:00 a.m.

The Art of India: From the Indus Valley to Independence

From its origins in the ancient civilization to the present, the complex culture of South Asia has given rise to some of the world’s most remarkable art. Art historian Robert DeCaroli highlights the artistic traditions and historical changes within the Indian subcontinent from the earliest archaeological evidence to the onset of colonialism. (World Art History Certificate core course, 1 credit)

Date of event
Tuesday, May 12 to June 2, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.

The Met's Costume Institute: Collecting, Curating, and Creating Across Time

Textile curator Elizabeth Lay leads a fashion-focused day among the riches of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collections. A pair of major exhibitions at the fabled Costume Institute—The Pursuit of Fashion: The Sandy Schreier Collection and About Time: Fashion and Duration—offer intriguing perspectives on collecting, curating, and exhibiting fashion.

Date of event
Thursday, May 14, 2020 - 7:00 a.m.

The Bronx in Bloom: Gardens, Art, and Local Culture

Arts journalist Richard Selden leads a two-day tour to New York City’s northernmost borough. Discover the glorious New York Botanical Garden, vibrant neighborhoods like Riverdale, Little Italy, and City Island (it’s really an island), and great local eateries.

Date of event
Depart: Sunday, May 17, 2020 - 7:30 a.m.
Return: Monday, May 18, 2020 - 11:00 p.m.

Raphael and His Circle

To mark the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death, the National Gallery of Art has assembled 25 prints and drawings in an intimate installation, Raphael and His Circle. Join curator Jonathan Bober as he discusses how he brought together the works and the combination of artistic traditions, wide range, and immediate influence of Raphael’s art that shaped the standard of aesthetic excellence for later artists, connoisseurs, and scholars. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date of event
Wednesday, May 27, 2020 - 6:45 p.m.

The Maya: Ancient Splendors, Modern Legacies

The famous breaking of the Mayan code in the late 20th century revolutionized the study of these peoples and of ancient America. In a day-long program, humanities scholar George Scheper examines how interdisciplinary study of the Maya extends beyond the traditional archaeological focus to comprise political and social history, art, comparative religion, and ecology.

Date of event
Saturday, May 30, 2020 - 9:30 a.m.

Exploring World Heritage Sites in Asia

In this 4-session course, come on a virtual tour of four of the most intriguing UNESCO World Heritage sites in Asia, including both well-known and lesser-known sites with Justin M. Jacobs, associate professor of history at American University. This session focuses on the Taj Mahal.

Date of event
Thursday, June 4, 2020 - 6:45 p.m.

Architecture on the Nation's Front Lawn

Join Bill Keene on a walking tour to discover the Mall’s history, design, and architecture, from its earliest vision to the latest developments. View and compare a wide range of architectural styles from the Smithsonian’s first building, the Gothic-revival Castle to the capital’s newest landmark, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial designed by Frank Ghery. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date of event
Saturday, June 6, 2020 - 9:00 a.m.

Visual Literacy: The Art of Seeing

Like any language, art has its own vocabulary—one in which you discover more meaning and gratification as your fluency increases. Spend a day with art historian Lisa Passaglia Bauman expanding your understanding of how art communicates, how to analyze and interpret it, and how to see it in a cultural context. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Date of event
Saturday, June 6, 2020 - 9:30 a.m.

The Arts and World War I

The awesome power of war to unleash death and destruction has often ironically led to remarkable creative breakthroughs from artists, poets, and composers. David Gariff, a senior lecturer at the National Gallery of Art, explores the responses of artists and writers to the trauma of the Great War, which transcended national boundaries.

Date of event
Monday, June 8, 2020 - 6:45 p.m.

Contemporary Art as a Commodity

Ellen Gorman of Georgetown University offers a survey of the American art market from the 1950s to the present, introducing the cast of players and corporate entities behind the transformation of artworks into commodities for sale to the highest bidder. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date of event
Tuesday, June 9, 2020 - 6:45 p.m.

A Spring Day at Winterthur

Join decorative arts specialist Erin Kuykendall for an in-depth exploration of the exceptional collection of American decorative arts on view at the Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library.

Date of event
Wednesday, June 10, 2020 - 8:00 a.m.

Architecture on the Nation's Front Lawn

Join Bill Keene on a walking tour to discover the Mall’s history, design, and architecture, from its earliest vision to the latest developments. View and compare a wide range of architectural styles from the Smithsonian’s first building, the Gothic-revival Castle to the capital’s newest landmark, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial designed by Frank Ghery. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date of event
Friday, June 12, 2020 - 10:00 a.m.

Exploring World Heritage Sites in Asia

In this 4-session course, come on a virtual tour of four of the most intriguing UNESCO World Heritage sites in Asia, including both well-known and lesser-known sites with Justin M. Jacobs, associate professor of history at American University. This session focuses on Samarkand.

Date of event
Friday, June 12, 2020 - 6:45 p.m.

Spring in the Brandywine River Valley

The beautiful Brandywine region is an ideal destination for lovers of art, grand houses and gardens, and American history. Join Hayden Mathews, an environmental and cultural history interpreter, in locations in Delaware and Pennsylvania that vividly capture the area’s heritage.

Date of event
Depart: Sunday, June 14, 2020 - 7:30 a.m.
Return: Monday, June 15, 2020 - 7:00 p.m.

Architecture on the Nation's Front Lawn

Join Bill Keene on a walking tour to discover the Mall’s history, design, and architecture, from its earliest vision to the latest developments. View and compare a wide range of architectural styles from the Smithsonian’s first building, the Gothic-revival Castle to the capital’s newest landmark, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial designed by Frank Ghery. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date of event
Sunday, June 14, 2020 - 1:00 p.m.

Edgar Degas: The Independent Impressionist

Art historian Bonita Billman examines Degas in the context of the impressionist movement and colleagues including Monet, Pissarro, and Cassatt. She explores his work in a variety of media, analyzes his contributions to French art, and looks at his role as an art collector of merit. The program complements the exhibition Degas at the Opera at the National Gallery of Art. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date of event
Wednesday, June 17, 2020 - 6:45 p.m.

Excavations at Tell el-Amarna: A Window Into Ancient Egypt

Excavations at the extraordinarily preserved desert city at Tell el-Amarna provide unmatched evidence of the daily life and religious practices of ancient Egyptians. Egyptologist Jacquelyn Williamson, a senior member of the Tell el-Amarna archaeological team, examines the latest discoveries at the site and what they reveal about the city founded as a center for Pharaoh Akhenaten’s monotheistic cult of the sun god Aten. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date of event
Saturday, June 20, 2020 - 9:30 a.m.

Exploring World Heritage Sites in Asia

In this 4-session course, come on a virtual tour of four of the most intriguing UNESCO World Heritage sites in Asia, including both well-known and lesser-known sites with Justin M. Jacobs, associate professor of history at American University. This session focuses on the Mogao Grottos.

Date of event
Thursday, June 25, 2020 - 6:45 p.m.

Treasures of Ancient Egypt at VMFA

More than 1200 years ago, two ancient Egyptian cities at the mouth of the Nile were lost to natural disasters and the rising tides of the Mediterranean Sea. The stunning exhibition Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts offers a rare glimpse of what remains of these mighty centers of trade, where Egyptian and Greek cultures merged in art, worship, and everyday life. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date of event
Friday, June 26, 2020 - 8:30 a.m.

African Art Through the Centuries

From the vibrant paintings found in Stone Age caves to works of contemporary creators, the arts of Africa have been shaped by unique creative insight as well as by specific political, social, religious, and economic forces. Art historian Kevin Tervala explores these vibrant artistic expressions through an examination of the continent’s historical trajectory. (World Art History Certificate core course, 1 credit)

Date of event
Friday, June 26, 2020 - 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Saturday, June 27, 2020 - 10:00 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.

Exploring World Heritage Sites in Asia

In this 4-session course, come on a virtual tour of four of the most intriguing UNESCO World Heritage sites in Asia, including both well-known and lesser-known sites with Justin M. Jacobs, associate professor of history at American University. This session focuses on the Potala Palace.

Date of event
Monday, June 29, 2020 - 6:45 p.m.

Creativity in Dark Times: Artists and Writers of the New Deal

Author David Taylor looks at some of the artists and writers for whom the Federal Writers’ Project and the Federal Arts Project gave them a new purpose: recording American life. Their works—some of which remain controversial—provide a vivid portrait of a nation struggling for recovery and identity during the Great Depression.

Date of event
Tuesday, June 30, 2020 - 6:45 p.m.

A Berkshires Summer Sampler

The scenic and historic Berkshire hills of western Massachusetts are alive with music, art, and theatre. Journalist Richard Selden leads a 5-day tour that offers a splendid sampling of cultural attractions in the region, from historic writers’ homes to outstanding museums to music and theatre performances.

Date of event
Depart: Sunday, July 26, 2020 - 6:30 a.m.
Return: Thursday, July 30, 2020 - 9:30 p.m.

The Barnes Foundation Philadelphia

Led by art historian Bonita Billman, spend a day at the Barnes museum in Philadelphia to view its dazzling collections of French modern and post-impressionist paintings. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date of event
Sunday, July 26, 2020 - 8:00 a.m.

The Sparkling Mosaics of Ravenna

No medium better embodies the glory and mystery of both Byzantine culture and Early Christian iconography than mosaics. Rocky Ruggiero, a specialist in the Early Renaissance, surveys the fascinating history of Ravenna that shaped the city’s most recognizable artistic marvels. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date of event
Friday, August 7, 2020 - 6:30 p.m.

Michelangelo, Pope Julius, and the Sistine Chapel

When Michelangelo signed the contract with Pope Julius II in 1508 to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling, little did he know the turmoil that awaited him. Rocky Ruggiero, a specialist in the Early Renaissance, examines the artistic importance of the ceiling and the human drama behind its creation, as well as the chapel’s history and its exquisite art produced before Michelangelo. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Date of event
Saturday, August 8, 2020 - 10:00 a.m.

A Trio of Contemporary Museums: An Artful Weekend in New York

Treat yourself to an art-filled weekend escape to Manhattan that gives you plenty of time to take in guided visits of three leading museums devoted to modern and contemporary art—the newly revamped MoMA, the Whitney, and the New Museum—and a night on the town to enjoy as you like. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date of event
Depart: Saturday, August 15, 2020 - 8:30 a.m.
Return: Sunday, August 16, 2020 - 10:30 p.m.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Buffalo

Buffalo was the location of one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s career-making commissions, and his several works there have become vital parts of the city’s architectural and cultural history. Bill Keene leads a 4-day tour, highlighting significant structures by Wright and his contemporaries that make Buffalo a must-see destination for aficionados of architectural masterworks. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date of event
Depart: Friday, August 28, 2020 - 8:00 a.m.
Return: Monday, August 31, 2020 - 9:30 p.m.

George Washington in Alexandria

No other location is as associated with George Washington as Alexandria, a place he considered it his hometown. Join author and historian Garrett Peck as follows Washington’s footsteps through Old Town’s alleyways, rustic taverns, churches, 18th-century houses, and historic waterfront.

Date of event
Saturday, September 12, 2020 - 3:00 p.m.

Exploring Frank Lloyd Wright

Visit three of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s most innovative homes—Fallingwater, Kentuck Knob, and the houses at Polymath Park—on an overnight tour led by Bill Keene to the scenic Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania.

Date of event
Depart: Sunday, September 13, 2020 - 7:15 a.m.
Return: Monday, September 14, 2020 - 6:30 p.m.

George Washington in Alexandria

No other location is as associated with George Washington as Alexandria, a place he considered it his hometown. Join author and historian Garrett Peck as follows Washington’s footsteps through Old Town’s alleyways, rustic taverns, churches, 18th-century houses, and historic waterfront.

Date of event
Sunday, September 13, 2020 - 2:00 p.m.

George Washington in Alexandria

No other location is as associated with George Washington as Alexandria, a place he considered it his hometown. Join author and historian Garrett Peck as follows Washington’s footsteps through Old Town’s alleyways, rustic taverns, churches, 18th-century houses, and historic waterfront.

Date of event
Friday, September 18, 2020 - 11:00 a.m.

Vermeer: In Praise of the Ordinary

Explore the legacy of painter Johannes Vermeer, a master of light and color whose paintings captured the beauty and meaning of everyday life, with art historian Aneta Georgievska-Shine. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Date of event
Saturday, September 26, 2020 - 9:30 a.m.

The Ninth Street Women: Abstract Expressionists Who Made Their Own Mark

In the 1950s, the spotlight on New York City’s abstract expressionist movement nearly always fell on male painters. Art critic Judy Pomeranz takes an in-depth look at five gutsy but overlooked women whose work in the groundbreaking Ninth Street Art Exhibition of 1951 boldly claimed their places in the postwar avant garde. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date of event
Thursday, October 1, 2020 - 6:45 p.m.

Glenstone and the Phillips Collection: Private Collectors' Visions

Washington’s grand public museums aren’t the only places to see outstanding art. Visit two of the most interesting museums that reflect of the tastes and visions of their founders when you spend a day exploring Glenstone in suburban Potomac and the venerable Phillips Collection with art historian Ursula Wolfman. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date of event
Thursday, October 8, 2020 - 9:00 a.m.

2020 Smithsonian Craft Show Preview Night Benefit with Visionary Artist Award Reception

Attend the Smithsonian Craft Show's most exclusive and intimate event for the opportunity to mingle with our 2020 Visionary Artist Award recipient, Patti Warashina, and our show VIPs. This ticket includes access to the Visionary Artist Award Reception and Preview Night Benefit activities, including buffet, wine and cocktails, shopping, and more.

Date of event
Wednesday, October 21, 2020 - 5:00 p.m.

2020 Smithsonian Craft Show Preview Night Benefit

Attend the Smithsonian Craft Show's Preview Night Benefit for an exclusive evening of shopping without the crowds at the beautiful National Building Museum, featuring a sumptuous buffet with wine and cocktails.

Date of event
Wednesday, October 21, 2020 - 6:30 p.m.

2020 Smithsonian Craft Show THURSDAY Admission

Save money and avoid the lines by ordering your Smithsonian Craft Show ticket in advance. This one-day pass only applies to Thursday, Oct. 22 admission and doesn't include any add-on evening options.

Date of event
Thursday, October 22, 2020 - 10:30 a.m.

2020 Smithsonian Craft Show THURSDAY Admission with CRAFT+COCKTAILS

Save money and avoid the lines by ordering your Smithsonian Craft Show ticket in advance. This one-day pass only applies to Thursday, Oct. 22 admission and includes add-on CRAFT+COCKTAILS evening option for after-hours entertainment.

Date of event
Thursday, October 22, 2020 - 10:30 a.m.

2020 Smithsonian Craft Show: Wit and Wisdom in the Work of Patti Warashina

In lively conversation with Stephanie Stebich, the Margaret and Terry Stent Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2020 Visionary Art Award recipient Patti Warashina reveals how her life experience and sense of humor inform her art. This Smithsonian Craft Show one-day pass includes Thursday, Oct. 22 daytime admission; "Wit and Wisdom in the Work of Patti Warashina" talk; and CRAFT+COCKTAILS for after-hours entertainment.

Date of event
EVENING TALK: Thursday, October 22, 2020 - 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Note: Ticket also includes other activities that occur from 10:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

2020 Smithsonian Craft Show FRIDAY Admission

Save money and avoid the lines by ordering your Smithsonian Craft Show ticket in advance. This one-day pass only applies to Friday, Oct. 23 admission and doesn't include any add-on evening options.

Date of event
Friday, October 23, 2020 - 10:30 a.m.

2020 Smithsonian Craft Show SATURDAY Admission

Save money and avoid the lines by ordering your Smithsonian Craft Show ticket in advance. This one-day pass only applies to Saturday, Oct. 24 admission and doesn't include any add-on evening options.

Date of event
Saturday, October 24, 2020 - 10:30 a.m.

2020 Smithsonian Craft Show SUNDAY Admission

Save money and avoid the lines by ordering your Smithsonian Craft Show ticket in advance. This one-day pass only applies to Sunday, Oct. 25 admission and doesn't include any add-on evening options.

Date of event
Sunday, October 25, 2020 - 11:00 a.m.

The Seneca Quarry and the Castle

Garrett Peck, author of The Smithsonian Castle and the Seneca Quarry, leads a countryside excursion that centers on the role that the once-thriving Maryland quarry played in the building of 19th-century Washington.

Date of event
Saturday, November 7, 2020 - 9:00 a.m.

Sears Houses of Arlington

Sold as prefabricated kits during the first half of the 20th century, affordable dwellings from Sears Roebuck and Company defined the character of countless American communities. Join historian Dakota Springston on a bus tour through historic Virginia neighborhoods to view the distinctive exteriors of Sears homes.

Date of event
Saturday, November 7, 2020 - 10:00 a.m.

Sears Houses of Arlington

Sold as prefabricated kits during the first half of the 20th century, affordable dwellings from Sears Roebuck and Company defined the character of countless American communities. Join historian Dakota Springston on a bus tour through historic Virginia neighborhoods to view the distinctive exteriors of Sears homes.

Date of event
Sunday, November 15, 2020 - 10:00 a.m.

The Art of India: From the Indus Valley to Independence

From its origins in the ancient civilization to the present, the complex culture of South Asia has given rise to some of the world’s most remarkable art. Art historian Robert DeCaroli highlights the artistic traditions and historical changes within the Indian subcontinent from the earliest archaeological evidence to the onset of colonialism. (World Art History Certificate core course, 1 credit)

Date of event
Monday, November 16 to December 7, 2020 - 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.