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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful



Wild Wood: True Tales of Trees

Tuesday, October 11, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Join Liana Vitali, naturalist and educator at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary in Maryland (and self-proclaimed tree-hugger), for an immersive audio-visual journey into the fascinatingly complicated and connected life of trees—from their first tiny emergence through the topsoil as seedlings, to their lasting value to forest life as fallen logs.


Cezanne: The Father of Modern Art

Wednesday, October 12, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

For Picasso, Paul Cezanne was simply “the father of us all.” Art historian Joseph Cassar examines key works that reflect how this pioneer of modernism pointed to future developments in art. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)


Art Crimes: Trailing Modern Treasure Hunters

Wednesday, October 12, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Join expert on art fraud and former FBI agent Robert K. Wittman on his journey around the world as the senior investigator and founder of the FBI National Art Crime Team. He recounts assignments worthy of a spy novel that nabbed the tomb robbers, thieves, looters, and criminals who are the financial engine of the multi-billion-dollar international industry in illicit artifacts.


Reza Aslan on an American Martyr in Iran: The Howard Baskerville Story

Wednesday, October 12, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

In-Person and Online Program: Join award-winning historian and bestselling author Reza Aslan as he highlights the complex and historic ties between America and Iran and the potential of a single individual to change the course of history. Aslan traces the epic journey of Howard Baskerville, a young Christian missionary, from South Dakota to Persia (modern-day Iran) to preach the gospel in the 20th century. But it would be political activism and not Christianity that would define his life and lead to his death as a martyr in a foreign land.


Is God a Mathematician?

Thursday, October 13, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

From ancient times to the present scientists and philosophers have marveled at how such a seemingly abstract discipline as mathematics, which appears to have been a product of human thought, could so perfectly explain the natural world. In a fascinating presentation, astrophysicist Mario Livio explores why mathematics is a powerful lens through which to examine the cosmos.


Homer's Iliad and Odyssey: Enduring Lessons from Ancient Classics

Thursday, October 13, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

Homer’s masterpieces the Iliad and Odyssey helped the ancient Greeks understand, through oral recitation, the tribulations of their world. Joseph Luzzi, a professor of comparative literature at Bard College, explores the idea that we can also use these epics to make sense of some of the greatest cultural, political, and social problems we face today.


World War II and the Rise of American Intelligence

Thursday, October 13, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

Author and long-time intelligence officer Nicholas Reynolds draws on his new book Need to Know to survey the full story of the birth of American intelligence in the 1940s, as well as the larger-than-life leaders and spies who would shape espionage during wartime and beyond.


A Night in NorCal: California's Iconic Wine Regions

Friday, October 14, 2022 - 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

The North Coast region, comprising Napa, Sonoma, Lake, and Mendocino counties, produces nearly every style of wine imaginable. In a delicious exploration led by sommelier Erik Segelbaum, discover why these regions have put America on the global map as a world-class wine producer.


Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan: A Novel Duo

Saturday, October 15, 2022 - 6:00 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. ET

In-Person and Online Program: New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult is known for her compelling storytelling that thoughtfully tackles contemporary issues. For her latest novel, she teamed up with author Jennifer Finney Boylan to create the suspenseful Mad Honey. Join them as they discuss what it was like to work together and their inspiration behind the novel.


The Life and Times of Norman Cousins: A Peacemaker in the Atomic Age

Monday, October 17, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Best remembered as the longtime editor of the influential weekly magazine Saturday Review, Norman Cousins was also engaged in secret missions behind the Iron Curtain to conduct high-stakes negotiations directly with the Soviet leadership during the decades after WWII. Historian Allen Pietrobon discusses his enormous impact on the course of American public debate, international humanitarianism, and Cold-War diplomacy.


Shakespeare and Company: The Bookshop That Shaped the Lost Generation

Tuesday, October 18, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

In 1919, an American woman named Sylvia Beach opened Shakespeare and Company, an English-language bookshop and lending library on the Left Bank of Paris. In the decades that followed, it became the heart of a community of writers and artists now known as the Lost Generation. Joshua Kotin, an associate professor of English at Princeton University, draws on a treasury of Beach’s personal and business records to create a vivid portrait of a period and place that changed literary history.


Zingerman's Deli Turns 40

Tuesday, October 18, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

The iconic Zingerman’s Delicatessen in Ann Arbor, Michigan, opened in 1982 as a traditional Jewish deli and food shop that sold great stacked sandwiches and delicious baked goods. Less known is its role in building new food-business opportunities for others in the area. Co-founder Ari Weinzweig joins Christopher W. Wilson, director of experience design at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, to discuss Zingerman’s story and unique approach to management and leadership.


The Films of Alfred Hitchcock

Wednesday, October 19, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

In a career spanning 5 decades, film director Alfred Hitchcock made 54 films, including such classics as The 39 Steps, Rebecca, Notorious, Rear Window, North by Northwest, Vertigo, and Psycho. Brian Rose, professor emeritus at Fordham University, looks at Hitchcock’s achievements as the Master of Suspense and through dozens of film clips, examines his extraordinary creativity as one of the 20th century’s greatest filmmakers.


The Spanish Civil War: A Rehearsal for WWII

Wednesday, October 19, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

Between July 1936 and April 1939, Spain suffered a bloody civil war as a coalition of Nationalists under Generalissimo Francisco Franco staged an insurrection against the Second Spanish Republic. But the Spanish Civil War had a significance far beyond the Iberian peninsula: It revealed antecedents of the massive global conflict to come. Christopher Hamner, a professor of history at George Mason University, explores the war and its impact on the world.


The Art of John Singer Sargent: Virtuosic Portraits, Seductive Dancers, Luscious Landscapes

Wednesday, October 19, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Famed for his opulent portraits of members of Gilded-Age society, John Singer Sargent was prolific, versatile, and sometimes controversial. Art historian Nancy G. Heller discusses Sargent’s colorful life and examines his most important works, including a selection of drawings and paintings to be featured in the National Gallery of Art’s upcoming exhibition Sargent in Spain. She also considers his place within the broader scope of Western art history and discusses what new scholarship reveals about his life and work. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)


The Stories Behind English Spelling: An Awesome Mess

Thursday, October 20, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

What’s behind the spelling of colonel? Or knight? Why is it four but also forty? Linguist Anne Curzan discusses why an examination of the ever-evolving language whose spelling has been described as “an awesome mess” reveals a treasure trove of wild and wonderful stories about its history and the people who have spoken it (and grappled with its quirks) across the centuries.


The Geologic Past of the Mid-Atlantic Region

Thursday, October 20, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

Who knew that beneath our feet is evidence of magma chambers, giant sharks, Himalayan-sized mountains, and the breakup of several supercontinents? Geologist Callan Bentley leads a fascinating exploration of the Mid-Atlantic region that explores an extraordinary history spanning more than a billion years of geologic time.


What We Don’t Know About Dinosaurs

Sunday, October 23, 2022 - 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET

In just the past twenty years, we have learned more about dinosaurs than we did in the previous two centuries. Paleontologist David Hone discusses the extraordinary advances beginning to solve many of the mysteries surrounding these marvelous prehistoric creatures, considers the gaps in our knowledge that remain, and charts new directions for tomorrow’s generation of dinosaur scientists.


Sakes 101: Sakes from the Saga Prefecture

Monday, October 24, 2022 - 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. ET

Japanese sake’s popularity and presence in the United States continues to grow. Learn why when you join representatives of Sake Discoveries at D.C.’s Cranes restaurant for a guided tasting and food pairing spotlighting four sakes from the Saga prefecture. Savor a special three-course dinner from Cranes’ Chef Pepe Moncayo designed to perfectly accompany each of them.


Sakes 101: Sakes from the Saga Prefecture

Monday, October 24, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Japanese sake’s popularity and presence in the United States continues to grow. Learn why when you join representatives of Sake Discoveries at D.C.’s Cranes restaurant for a guided tasting and food pairing spotlighting four sakes from the Saga prefecture. Savor a special three-course dinner from Cranes’ Chef Pepe Moncayo designed to perfectly accompany each of them.


Steve Case Drives Them To Succeed

Monday, October 24, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. ET

Entrepreneur Steve Case recognized that jobs and opportunity spurred by technology were concentrated in a select few coastal cities. In response, he launched Rise of the Rest, a nationwide platform to back and spotlight innovative startups outside of Silicon Valley. Join Case, in conversation with Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch, as he shares some of the success stories of these startup communities, all leveraging regional strengths and betting on the future of innovation beyond the country’s usual tech hubs.


The ENIAC Programmers: The Women Behind the First Modern Computer

Monday, October 24, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

After the end of World War II, six pioneering women were assigned to program the new Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer—for which there were no instructional codes or programming languages to guide them. They succeeded, but their story was never told to the public. Author and documentary filmmaker Kathy Kleiman brings it—and these technological revolutionaries—out of the shadows.


500 Years of Anne Boleyn: The Woman Who Changed England’s History

Tuesday, October 25, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Ever since her life and death in the 16th century, historians and cultural representations have portrayed Anne Boleyn as a devout religious reformer, a blindly ambitious social climber, a heartless homewrecker, and everything in between. In a year that marks the 500th anniversary of Anne’s debut in the court of Henry VIII, Tudor scholar and historian Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger explores the story of the real woman, which is often lost.


Confucianism and Daoism

Tuesday, October 25, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Confucianism and Daoism (Taoism), the two major indigenous religions of China, present worldviews that contrast not only with Western thought, but with each other. Charles Jones, a professor of religion and culture at Catholic University of America, explores the basic teachings of the two traditions and their strategies for coexistence throughout Chinese history.


The Exquisite Machine: The New Science of the Heart

Wednesday, October 26, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Sian Harding, a world leader in cardiac research, surveys the explosion of scientific developments that are now opening the mysteries of the heart. She also examines how cutting-edge technologies are enabling experiments and clinical trials that will lead to new solutions to curing the world’s leading cause of death: heart disease.


Ghostly Images in Japanese Art

Wednesday, October 26, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Female ghosts have been an enduring theme in the history of Japanese art, touching people’s deepest fears, curiosities, and imaginations. Yui Suzuki, an art historian specializing in Japanese religious art, explores the popularity and proliferation of these spectral images that haunt the art of the Edo period. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)


The Acadian Diaspora

Thursday, October 27, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

Late in 1755, an army of British regulars and Massachusetts volunteers launched one of the most ambitious and cruel military campaigns in North American history: the capture and exile of Nova Scotia’s French-speaking Catholic settlers known as Acadians. Historian Christopher Hodson of Brigham Young University explores the Acadian diaspora, interweaving the dramatic stories of its perpetrators and survivors with the wider history of 18th-century imperial conflict. 


Lerner and Loewe: Musical Champagne

Thursday, October 27, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

We’ve grown accustomed to their music. In temperament and background, lyricist Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe were wildly dissimilar, but their often-tempestuous relationship produced brilliantly crafted musicals rich with enduring songs. Pianist and American music specialist Robert Wyatt offers a sparkling toast to the team behind Brigadoon, Paint Your Wagon, My Fair Lady, Gigi, and Camelot.


Deconstructing Frank Gehry

Thursday, October 27, 2022 - 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

The work of architect Frank Gehry is fascinating, imaginative, unexpected, and always fresh—as well as controversial, often-derided, and at times seen as the antithesis of good architecture. In a richly detailed program, Bill Keene, a lecturer in urban studies and architecture, examines Gehry’s life and career from his earliest buildings to works in progress. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)


Dining on the Rails: A Moveable Feast

Friday, October 28, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET

Hungry railroad passengers prior to the Civil War had meager choices for meals. But once George Pullman’s dining cars came on the scene in the late 19th century, a bountiful new era of service began that often rivaled fine restaurants and hotel dining rooms. Railroad historian Joe Nevin traces the colorful evolution of dining on the rails between the beginning of commercial service in 1830 and the advent of Amtrak using examples from the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, an Eastern pioneer of onboard services.


Supernatural Classics Concert: Tales for Halloween

Friday, October 28, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

In-Person and Online Program: Just in time for Halloween, enjoy a thrills- and chills-packed lecture-recital from the chamber music ensemble SONOS, featuring pianist Rachel Franklin, violinist Christian Tremblay and bass player Jonathan Miles Brown. Players explore what constitutes “scary” music, trace the haunting influence of literary and historic sources on the Gothic, and take a playful look at the eternal fascination musicians have for the supernatural.


The Revolutionary Samuel Adams

Tuesday, November 1, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

In-Person and Online Program: Thomas Jefferson once asserted that "for depth of purpose, zeal, and sagacity, no man in Congress exceeded, if any equaled, Sam Adams." But in spite of his celebrated status among America's Founding Fathers, Samuel Adams' life and achievements have been largely overshadowed in the history books. In a spirited conversation educator, author, and speaker Rebecca Boggs Roberts, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Stacy Schiff examines this often-overlooked founder.


Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America

Wednesday, November 2, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET

In-Person and Online Program: French sociologist Alexis de Tocqueville wrote Democracy in America, his seminal assessment of both the American experiment and the future of democracy after a visit to this country in 1831. Georgetown professor and political theorist Joseph Hartman considers the way in which Tocqueville thought through democracy and its problems and what Tocqueville means for us today.


The 1920s: Welcome to the New World

Wednesday, November 2, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. ET

In-Person and Online Program: In the 1920s, a decade of economic prosperity and cultural dynamism, Americans were dancing faster, driving faster, and living faster. Lecturer Stef Woods explores the explosion of new directions the period brought, from the jazz craze to the writers of the Lost Generation to Prohibition. She also considers what comparisons might be drawn between that still-resonant era and today’s ’20s.


Kardea Brown: Celebrating Gullah Geechee Culinary Traditions

Wednesday, November 2, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

For Kardea Brown (the Food Network’s “Delicious Miss Brown”), the West African– influenced Gullah cuisine of the South Carolina and Georgia low country has been a lifelong passion. Join her as she offers recipes, memories, and cherished family anecdotes from her first cookbook, The Way Home, which shares her multi-generational “passed down” recipes and innovative takes on Gullah classics with home cooks.


From Streaming TV to the Oscars: How Netflix Disrupted the Entertainment Industry

Thursday, November 3, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

From its start as a DVD-by-mail rental service, Netflix has systematically changed the rules of the media business. Media expert Brian Rose explores how Netflix is primed to become the dominant source of leisure time entertainment throughout the world.


The Great Fire of 1666: Restoration London’s Fall and Rise

Thursday, November 3, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

The Great Fire destroyed all of mercantile and much of residential London in just four days. Historian Robert Bucholz looks at how London came back stronger thanks to the vision proposed by Robert Hooke, Sir Christopher Wren, and other city designers.


The Sounds of Life: Technology Unlocks Nature’s Hidden Realm

Thursday, November 3, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

Technology often distracts us from nature, but what if it could reconnect us instead? The natural world teems with remarkable conversations, many beyond human hearing range. Karen Bakker of the University of British Columbia reveals how scientists are using groundbreaking digital technologies to uncover these astonishing sounds, revealing vibrant communication among our fellow creatures.


Herman Melville's Arrowhead: The Birthplace of Moby Dick

Friday, November 4, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

From 1850 through 1863, Herman Melville and his family made their home at Arrowhead, an unassuming yellow farmhouse on the western border of Massachusetts. Veteran Arrowhead tour guide John Dickson and Executive Director Lesley Herzberg lead an enlightening program that explores how Melville used the inspiration of the house and its surrounding landscape to write Moby Dick and other well-known novels and stories.


Christina Tosi: All About Cookies

Saturday, November 5, 2022 - 4:00 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. ET

Milk Bar’s Christina Tosi—famous for sweet inventions like the Compost Cookie—is ready to turn both experienced home bakers and novices into cookie wizards. Join her as she discusses the recipes in her new book All About Cookies and the delicious inspirations behind them.


The Holding Bowl: A Reflective Writing Workshop

Sunday, November 6, 2022 - 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET

Discover the power of reflective writing guided by the founding instructor of the National Gallery of Art’s popular Writing Salon, Mary Hall Surface. Inspired by contemporary works by American artist Margaret Boozer and poet Jane Hirshfield, explore the bowl as a metaphor for our lives and the world.


The Long Road to German Unification

Monday, November 7, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

The narrative of how a loose confederation of more than 1000 German states evolved into a powerful nation is a tale of intrigue, wars, class struggles, and economic turbulence. Historian Ralph Nurnberger provides an overview of the events and the fascinating figures that helped unite Germany in 1871 and propel it into a position of power within Central Europe.


Christopher Kimball: Cook What You Have

Monday, November 7, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

Not only is cooking with the ingredients you already have in your kitchen delicious and more economical, it makes meal planning easy. Christopher Kimball serves up plenty of tips from the new cookbook Milk Street: Cook What You Have that bring new life to easy-to-find staples like canned tomatoes, pasta, and chicken breasts—and that can transform mealtime from stressful to simple


A Native History of the American Revolution

Wednesday, November 9, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

The American Revolution was one in which Natives fought and died in great numbers and permanently reshaped the balance of power between Europeans and Native Americans on this continent. Historian Richard Bell surveys the Revolutionary War in Native America, with a focus on Molly Brant, an Iroquois woman who emerged as the long, bitter period’s most important military and cultural broker.


Conversations Behind the Kitchen Door with Emmanuel Laroche and Chef Jose Garces

Wednesday, November 9, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

On his “flavors unknown” podcast, Emmanuel Laroche has interviewed some of the most acclaimed chefs, pastry chefs, mixologists, and emerging culinary leaders in America. His new book, Conversations Behind the Kitchen Door, distills them into an insightful look at how today’s food culture is defined and its course for the future. In a conversation with acclaimed chef Jose Garces, Laroche discusses what he’s learned from these interviews, along with advice and inspiration from their subjects.


Contemporary Artists: Who Will We Remember?

Thursday, November 10, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET

As the world shrinks and the art market becomes increasingly global, it’s harder to identify the artists who will likely be in museum collections or remembered for years to come. Art critic and adviser Judy Pomeranz shares insights about several contemporary artists she feels are doing critically acclaimed—and market-recognized—work that stands apart from the crowd.


Searching for the Known and Unknown Poland: A Virtual Journey

Thursday, November 10, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

For more than 1,000 years, Poland has stood at the center of central Europe and its historical, cultural, political, and intellectual currents. In an exploration of how Poland evolved and survived throughout its long, rich history, author and tour guide Christopher Skutela, leads a journey to find Poland’s architectural, artistic, and historical treasures within its main cities as well as those found in lesser-known cities and towns.


The Legacy of the Gettysburg Address

Thursday, November 10, 2022 - 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

While Lincoln’s delivery of the Gettysburg Address lasted scarcely two minutes, it had a lasting impact on world history and his enduring legacy as people through the ages have looked to his words for inspiration. During this centennial year of the Lincoln Memorial, author and journalist Chuck Raasch explores the history of this iconic address that surprised onlookers and was ridiculed by the press—yet remains one of the greatest speeches ever given.


Temple Grandin on Visual Thinking

Monday, November 14, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

If you have a keen sense of direction, a love of puzzles, and the ability to assemble furniture without crying, you’re likely a visual thinker. Temple Grandin—a visual thinker herself—offers insights into how a world increasingly geared to the verbal tends to sideline visual thinkers and how new approaches to education, employment, and collaboration can make the most of their singular gifts.


Ashoka and the Maurya Empire

Monday, November 14, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

In 250 B.C. the Maurya Empire was the wealthiest and largest in the world, extending across Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and most of the Indian subcontinent. It reached its apogee under the rule of Ashoka, a notable emperor. Independent scholar Colleen Taylor Sen traces the rise of the Maurya Empire from its roots in the Indus Valley; considers Ashoka’s role in ancient Indian political and religious history; and examines what the legacy of this empire means for the region today.


Bison: Portrait of an Icon

Monday, November 14, 2022 - 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Writer Audrey Hall and photographer Chase Reynolds Ewald have been following in the hoofprints of the American bison since their first childhood visits to Yellowstone National Park. They draw on their book, Bison: Portrait of an Icon, to tell the story of the species, highlighting its history, cultural significance, near decimation and remarkable comeback, and share some surprising tidbits about these all-American beasts.


The Future of the Constitution

Tuesday, November 15, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Is an 18th-century document still the right blueprint for the most powerful country in the world at a time of breathtaking social and technological change? Humanities scholar Clay Jenkinson surveys the changing place of the Constitution in U.S. history and considers the proposals for constitutional change that are getting increased attention as America moves into greater and greater paralysis.


Back to the Moon: The Next Giant Leap for Humankind

Tuesday, November 15, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

Just over half a century since Neil Armstrong first stepped foot on the lunar surface, a new space race to the Moon is well underway and rapidly gaining momentum. Astrophysicist Joseph Silk addresses both the challenges and the promise of lunar exploration and exploitation, emphasizing how prioritizing science, in particular lunar astronomy, will enable us to address the deepest cosmic mysteries and discover unimagined opportunities.


It’s Possible To Be Sick as a Dog: Linking Human and Animal Health

Wednesday, November 16, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

Drawing on the latest in medical and veterinary science, cardiologist and evolutionary biologist B. Natterson-Horowitz explores how understanding physical and mental illness in animals has the potential to make us physically and mentally healthier humans.


The Irrepressible Rosa Bonheur: The 19th Century’s Most Famous Woman Artist

Wednesday, November 16, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

An international celebrity during her lifetime, the reputation of prolific French animal painter Rosa Bonheur (1822–1899) faded  as the 20th century turned toward new art forms. In the 200th anniversary year of Bonheur’s birth, historian Nancy G. Heller celebrates her boldly unconventional personality and the achievements of a significant artistic career. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)


Gloriana: Elizabeth I and the Art of Queenship

Thursday, November 17, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET

Art and fashion were strategic propaganda devices that reinforced the magnificence—and power—of Elizabeth I as a virgin goddess. Lecturer Siobhan Clarke surveys the cult of Gloriana and the glittering jewels, opulent gowns, and royal portraits that shaped the image of England’s queen in her own time and throughout history. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)


The Renaissance Artist at Work

Friday, November 18, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Day-to-day artistic workshop practices are often a neglected aspect of Renaissance studies. Art historian Elaine Ruffolo sheds a fascinating light on the subject as she explores how painters learned their craft, the organization of their workshops, the guilds they belonged to, their relationships with customers and patrons, and where and how their work was displayed. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)


Spanish Wines: They Belong on Your Vinous Radar Now!

Friday, November 18, 2022 - 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

Sommelier Erik Segelbaum guides you through a Spanish immersion as you sip like Don Quixote on the wines of Catilla-La Mancha, discover what makes Rioja so special, and be surprised and delighted with the diversity and deliciousness of Spanish wine.


Misty Copeland: Honoring a Trailblazing Black Ballerina

Friday, November 18, 2022 - 6:00 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. ET

In-Person and Online Program: Misty Copeland made history as the first African American principal ballerina at American Ballet Theatre, an achievement in which another trailblazing Black ballerina—her mentor, the late Raven Wilkinson—played a key role. Drawing on her new book, The Wind at My Back, Copeland tells the story of two unapologetically Black ballerinas, their friendship, and how they changed each other—and the dance world—forever. online options.


How To Find an Owl in Your Neighborhood

Sunday, November 20, 2022 - 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET

There’s likely a cunning top-of-the-food-chain predator living close by you: the Great Horned Owl. Join naturalist  Mark H.X. Glenshaw to learn how to find these amazing and beautiful animals and other owls in your own neighborhood.


Lost Civilizations: Nubia

Tuesday, November 22, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Nubia, the often-overlooked southern neighbor of Egypt, has been home to groups of vibrant and adaptive peoples for millennia. Sarah M. Schellinger of Ohio State University explores the Nubians’ religious, social, economic, and cultural histories through their archaeological and textual remains, reminding us that they were a rich and dynamic civilization in their own right.


The Year of the Puppy

Monday, November 28, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Noted dog researcher and author Alexandra Horowitz spent a year scrutinizing the daily existence of her new puppy Quiddity and poring over the science of early dog development—an experience recounted in her newest book, The Year of the Puppy. Horowitz draws on it in a conversation with science journalist Ed Yong in which she dives into the most important and challenging phases for dog owners: the first year with a puppy.


Lost Civilizations: The Maya

Tuesday, November 29, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Megan E. O’Neil, assistant professor of art history and museum curator at Emory University, delves into ancient Maya art and architecture, primarily from the Late Classic period (600–900). She also explores how people from the 16th century to the present have perceived, portrayed, and exploited Maya art and culture.


The Many Lives of Joan of Arc

Wednesday, November 30, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

Why does the story of Joan of Arc’s short life continue to live on in our history? Kevin J. Harty, medievalist and popular-culture scholar, examines the many facets and complexities of her life and legend in a fascinating program highlighted by examples of works of art, music, literature, advertisements, and film and television inspired by the Maid of Orléans.


The Civil War in the Desert Southwest

Wednesday, November 30, 2022 - 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Drawing on material from her book The Three-Cornered War  (a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History in 2021), Megan Kate Nelson examines why and how the desert Southwest—New Mexico, Arizona, and southern California—became an important site of conflict among U.S. soldiers, Confederate Texans, and Indigenous peoples during the American Civil War.


Healing a Divided Nation: How the American Civil War Revolutionized Western Medicine

Wednesday, November 30, 2022 - 7:00 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Unprecedented strides were made in the science of medicine during the Civil War, laying the foundations for the system we know today. Drawing on her book Healing a Divided Nation, author and documentary filmmaker Carole Adrienne tracks this remarkable transformation in its cultural and historical context, illustrating how the rapid advancements made in these four years reverberated throughout the western world for years to come.


Maria Sibylla Merian: A Biologist to the Bone

Thursday, December 1, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET

The aesthetic appeal of the images created by Maria Sibylla Merian (German, 1647–1717) has led history to label her as an artist who painted and etched natural history subjects. Kay Etheridge, a professor emeritus of biology at Gettysburg College, draws on Merian’s own words and art to reveal she was as passionate a naturalist (biologist in modern terms) as Charles Darwin or Carl Linnaeus.


Quintessential Québec City

Thursday, December 1, 2022 - 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Québec City is the only walled metropolis north of Mexico, but there are many other distinctions that make it a must-visit place for visitors in search of history, great eating, and a uniquely European atmosphere. Emmy Award–nominated PBS television host Darley Newman is ready to tell you why you should make the trip.


Along the C&O Canal

Friday, December 2, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal covers over 20,000 acres along the Potomac and is one of the nation’s most diverse national parks in terms of both natural species and historical significance. Aidan Barnes of the C&O Canal Trust surveys its colorful history, near demise and rescue, and its emergence as a true national treasure.


Michelangelo's Women

Friday, December 2, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Michelangelo’s artistic audacity extended far beyond his heroic men to encompass an amazing cohort of authoritative, prophetic, nurturing, and active women. Art historian Elizabeth Lev looks at Michelangelo’s life and work to reveal how the Florentine master turned the tables on old tropes and stereotypes in his portrayals of women in daring, innovative, and empowering imagery. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)


The Jacobites’ Legacy: From Bonnie Prince Charlie to Outlander

Monday, December 5, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Historian Jennifer Paxton examines how a dispute between rival branches of the English royal dynasty dominated English and European politics for nearly a century and has inspired popular culture on both sides of the Atlantic, from the novels of Sir Walter Scott in the 19th century to the current Outlander novels and television series.


An American Ambassador in Prewar Japan: The Countdown to Pearl Harbor

Monday, December 5, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

As America’s ambassador to Japan in the decade that led up to WWII, Joseph C. Grew’s prescient warnings to American leaders about the risks of Japan’s raging nationalism and ambitious militarism were often disregarded in Washington. Author Steve Kemper examines Grew’s tenure in Japan, offering a backstage glimpse at these explosive years from vantage points including the Imperial Palace, the Japanese cabinet, and Grew’s own perspective from the American embassy in Tokyo.


In Search of Sacred Sites

Monday, December 5, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

In-Person and Online Program: For the past 40 years, documentary photographer, filmmaker, and National Geographic Society Explorer Chris Rainier has been in search of the sacred and the very meaning of sacredness. Rainier shares his discoveries from that exploration as he leads a visual journey into a world of spiritual landscapes and sacred sites around the globe, combining powerful and haunting images with insights from leading authors, spiritual thinkers, indigenous elders, explorers, and religious scholars.


Winter Wisdom: A Reflective Writing Workshop

Tuesday, December 6, 2022 - 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. ET

Discover the power of reflective writing guided by the founding instructor of the National Gallery of Art’s popular Writing Salon, Mary Hall Surface. Inspired by Claude Monet’s The Magpie and two winter poems by Mary Oliver, you’ll explore the lessons that the season offers us when we slow down, look closely, and reflect.


Lost Civilizations: Egypt

Tuesday, December 6, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

From Roman villas to Hollywood films, ancient Egypt has been a source of fascination and inspiration in many other cultures. Christina Riggs, professor of the history of visual culture at Durham University, examines its history, art, and religion to illuminate why ancient Egypt has been so influential throughout the centuries—revealing how the past has always been used to serve contemporary purposes.


Gulliver's Travels: A Satire Not Just for Children

Tuesday, December 6, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Though often regarded as a children’s book, Gulliver's Travels is filled with Jonathan Swift’s “savage indignation” at the problems in the human character and offers a witty, enchanting, and unrelenting critique of the optimism of the Enlightenment. Learn why humanities scholar Clay Jenkinson considers it a work of genius as he leads a journey into the dark recesses of the severest satirist in the English language.


Yuletide in Dixie: Slavery, Christmas, and Southern Memory

Tuesday, December 6, 2022 - 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

The conventional wisdom that Christmas provided enslaved African Americans in the Civil War era with a respite from labor and punishment is wrong, says historian Robert E. May. He examines how slavery’s most punitive features persisted at holiday time and how false assumptions about slave Christmases later became harnessed to cultural myths that undergirded white supremacy in the United States.


Candlelight Day Dinner at Elcielo

Wednesday, December 7, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

In Colombia, the Christmas season gets its unofficial start on December 7 with the celebration of Candlelight Day, and food naturally play a major part in the holiday. Get a taste of those delectable traditions at Elcielo—Washington, D.C.’s only Michelin-starred Colombian fine-dining restaurant—as you enjoy a special multicourse tasting menu created for the holiday season and learn about Candlelight Day from representatives of the Embassy of Colombia.


Birding in a Winter Wonderland

Wednesday, December 7, 2022 - 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Not all birds fly south for the winter: Many species find their way to homes in temperate North America. Naturalist Matt Felperin shares valuable tips on how to the make the most of winter birding in the mid-Atlantic region and why it’s one of the most rewarding and magical times for spotting seasonal visitors from ducks and geese to songbirds and raptors.


The Escape Artist: A Warning from Auschwitz

Thursday, December 8, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

In April 1944, Rudolf Vrba became the first Jew to break out of Auschwitz, driven to reveal the truth of the death camp to the world and to warn the last Jews of Europe what fate awaited them. Though too few—including world leaders—heeded his warning, Vrba helped save 200,000 Jewish lives. Author Jonathan Freedland recounts the extraordinary story of a man he feels deserves to take his place as one of a handful of individuals whose experiences define our understanding of the Holocaust.


Rediscovering Botticelli’s Lost Drawings—and the Renaissance

Thursday, December 8, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

The 19th-century rediscovery of Sandro Botticelli’s drawings illustrating The Divine Comedy reminded the art world of how the artist’s work embodies the spirit of the Renaissance. Joseph Luzzi of Bard College explains how and why Botticelli’s creations from the beauty of Primavera and the Birth of Venus to the drama of Dante’s Purgatorio—still move us today.


The Rothschilds: From Frankfurt’s Judengasse to Bankers to the World

Thursday, December 8, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

They spent centuries confined to the Judengasse ghetto in Frankfurt, earning a living peddling goods. But the Rothschild family moved past antisemitism, emerging as one of the world's wealthiest and most influential banking dynasties. Historian Ralph Nurnberger recounts their rags-to-riches story.


The Barnes Foundation Philadelphia

Friday, December 9, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET

The Barnes is often considered the greatest post-impressionist and early-modern art collection in the world. Join Barnes Foundation educator Penny Hansen as she covers its history and uses unique high-definition Deep Zoom technology to offer closeup looks at masterpieces that reveal their surfaces and details in ways that bring the art and the artists to vivid life. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)


A Traveler's Guide to the Stars: The Possibilities of Interstellar Exploration

Friday, December 9, 2022 - 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

The age-old dream of venturing forth into the cosmos and even colonizing distant worlds may one day become a reality. Physicist, author, and NASA technologist Les Johnson reveals the physics and technologies that may enable us to reach the stars.


Decking the Halls at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Sunday, December 11, 2022 - 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET

Author and historian Coleen Christian Burke, a 2014 White House design partner, leads a journey through Christmas history as she reveals how the annual decorating themes developed by first ladies are turned into sparkling realities. She also discusses how the holiday White House functions as both a private home and public space and offers views of some of the most memorable seasonal settings created at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.


Building St. Peter's Basilica

Monday, December 12, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

After 100 years of construction, the reign of 18 different popes, and the direction of 12 different architects, St. Peter’s Basilica was finally completed in 1626. Rocky Ruggiero, an architectural historian and specialist in the Italian Renaissance, explores the dramatic construction history of this great church and the breathtaking artwork by artists such as Michelangelo and Bernini that adorns it. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)


Lost Civilizations: The Incas

Tuesday, December 13, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

The Inca were the last major civilization of the Andes, the descendant of a human presence in the region dating back millennia. Kevin Lane, archaeologist and senior researcher at CONICET Universidad de Buenos Aires, analyzes the Inca rise to power, highlighting the social, economic, cultural, dynastic, and military reasons behind the emergence of their imperial hegemony throughout western South America.


Los Angeles: Portrait of a Mature Metropolis

Wednesday, December 14, 2022 - 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

In the decades following World War II, a myriad of factors shaped modern Los Angeles, including the growth of industry, the evolution of the entertainment business, and the city’s transformation into the home of notable cultural and educational institutions. Bill Keene, a lecturer in history, urban studies, and architecture, examines the social and economic forces that made Los Angeles the powerhouse it is today.


Spices 101: Cinnamon

Thursday, December 15, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET

The spice we love in apple pie, tagines, and churros has been treasured across cultures since ancient times, and used for culinary, medicinal, and spiritual purposes—even including ancient Egyptian embalming methods. Christine Rai explores cinnamon’s fascinating origins, history, and variety, and shares tips on using the spice in your own kitchen.


The Magic of Fred Astaire

Thursday, December 15, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Whether it was partnering with Ginger Rogers, Rita Hayworth, Cyd Charisse, or a hat rack, Fred Astaire on film made everything appear easy and elegant. In a delightful program illustrated with video clips, media expert Brian Rose surveys the sweep of Astaire’s remarkable career, looking at his work both as a soloist and as the most romantic dance partner in Hollywood history.


How Weather Has Shaped Human History

Thursday, December 15, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

Dramatic weather might seem to be a new phenomenon, but weather and climate change have been shaping human history for thousands of years. Historian Caroline Winterer examines a series of weather-driven turning points that were strong enough to force migration, end wars, and create famines—and how the aftermath of past climate change might affect our future.


Donatello: Artist of the Florentine Renaissance

Friday, December 16, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

A technical master, Donatello broke new ground in the methods he used and the forms he chose to develop, leaving behind a legacy of creations that seem startlingly modern. Art historian Elaine Ruffolo highlights the life and work of this artist who embodied the ideas of the Renaissance in sculpture. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)


France’s Hidden Gems: Drink Like a French Sommelier

Friday, December 16, 2022 - 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

Sommelier Erik Segelbaum guides you through a tour-de-force presentation of some of the most incredible yet lesser-known wines and regions of France. On this journey off the beaten path, you’re sure to discover some of the most exciting wines France produces.


From Carson to Oprah to Stephen Colbert: A History of the TV Talk Show

Thursday, January 5, 2023 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

From its start in the early 1950s, the talk show has been one of television’s most versatile and durable formats. Media expert Brian Rose surveys its changing appeal from decade to decade and examines how the talk show—and its hosts—continue to provide viewers with a lively mix of entertainment, information, and compelling conversation.


Ian Fleming: The Creator of James Bond

Wednesday, January 11, 2023 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

You might call Ian Fleming—who introduced a British Secret Service agent named James Bond to the world with Casino Royale in 1952—The Man with the Golden Typewriter. The 14 Bond books he authored sparked a global sensation, sold tens of millions of copies, and became the source for the longest-running film franchise in history. In an evening in the dashing Bond spirit, author Daniel Stashower explores Ian Fleming’s life and legacy, while actor Scott Sedar, aka The Man with the Golden Voice, reads from Fleming’s most popular works.


Adam Smith's America

Thursday, January 19, 2023 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Originally published in 1776, Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations was lauded by America’s founders as a landmark work of Enlightenment thinking about national wealth, statecraft, and moral virtue. Harvard University lecturer and author Glory Liu traces how generations of Americans have read, reinterpreted, and weaponized Smith’s ideas over time.