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Science & Nature Programs

There’s far more to Thomas Edison’s story than the light bulb and the phonograph. Paul Israel, director and general editor of the Edison Papers at Rutgers University, offers a portrait of an American genius who transformed the concept of invention and played a key role in developing some of the most important technologies of the modern era.

Event date
Friday, September 6, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Spend a day with Joe Nevin in the Shenandoah and South Branch valleys that focuses on regional and railroad history, and offers some spectacular scenery as well. The centerpiece is a 3-hour excursion on the diesel-powered Potomac Eagle in historic first-class lounge cars—the perfect vantage point to take in the wild, wooded gorge locally known as the Trough.

Event date
Saturday, September 7, 2019 - 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Get ready to meet some of the world’s most fascinating denizens of the sea. Marine biologist and underwater photographer Richard Smith provides a colorful introduction to the teeming life in the depths of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans.

Event date
Tuesday, September 10, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

For Smithsonian Associates members at the Promoter ($100) level or below: From newborns to recent arrivals, the National Zoo’s latest residents are in the spotlight during this much-anticipated annual event. Enter the zoo before it opens to the public, enjoy breakfast and special activities, get up-close looks at the animals, and take in the memorable sights and sounds of Smithsonian’s wonderful zoo.

Event date
Saturday, September 14, 2019 - 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

For Smithsonian Associates members at the Advocate ($175) level or above: From newborns to recent arrivals, the National Zoo’s latest residents are in the spotlight during this much-anticipated annual event. Enter the zoo before it opens to the public, enjoy breakfast and special activities, get up-close looks at the animals, and take in the memorable sights and sounds of Smithsonian’s wonderful zoo. This ticket option includes VIP access at the Mane Grill across from Lion and Tiger Hill from 8 to 9 a.m.

Event date
Saturday, September 14, 2019 - 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast served 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.

For Smithsonian Associates members at the Advocate ($175) level or above: From newborns to recent arrivals, the National Zoo’s latest residents are in the spotlight during this much-anticipated annual event. Enter the zoo before it opens to the public, enjoy breakfast and special activities, get up-close looks at the animals, and take in the memorable sights and sounds of Smithsonian’s wonderful zoo. This ticket option includes VIP access at the Mane Grill across from Lion and Tiger Hill from 9 to 10 a.m.

Event date
Saturday, September 14, 2019 - 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast served 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.

For Smithsonian Associates members at the Advocate ($175) level or above: From newborns to recent arrivals, the National Zoo’s latest residents are in the spotlight during this much-anticipated annual event. Enter the zoo before it opens to the public, enjoy breakfast and special activities, get up-close looks at the animals, and take in the memorable sights and sounds of Smithsonian’s wonderful zoo. This ticket option includes VIP access at the Mane Grill across from Lion and Tiger Hill from 10 to 11 a.m.

Event date
Saturday, September 14, 2019 - 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast served 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Join an orchid-care expert for an enjoyable and informative afternoon about America’s favorite household plant. The session is perfect for both experienced collectors and beginners, and you’ll take home an orchid you’ve learned to re-pot.

Event date
Sunday, September 15, 2019 - 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The rugged landscape of western North Dakota was the setting against which Theodore Roosevelt transformed himself from an asthmatic 24-year-old into a robust outdoorsman—and a passionate lifelong conservationist. Experience that corner of the West—filled with dramatic vistas, vividly colored canyons, and wandering herds of wild bison—on an extraordinary tour that brings you into the heart of Roosevelt’s Badlands and the national park that bears his name.

Event date
Depart from Bismarck, ND: Sunday, September 15, 2019 - 6:00 p.m.
Return to Bismarck, ND: Thursday, September 19, 2019 - 1:00 p.m.

The dawn of aerial warfare in WWI introduced a new breed of military hero: the dashing flying ace in the skies over France. Aviation historian Mark Wilkins examines the unforeseen psychological toll suffered by these young pilots during and after the war, and how military medicine responded with the development of a new field of specialty, aviation psychiatry.

Event date
Monday, September 16, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux of New York University digs into the natural history of life on earth to provide a new perspective on the similarities between us and our ancestors in deep time. He surveys terrestrial evolution to shed new light on how nervous systems evolved in animals, how the brain developed, and what it means to be human.

Event date
Tuesday, September 17, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

There’s been a recent spike of interest in all things fungal, with more people eating mushrooms, and more people baffled by trying to identify them. Mycologist and author Lawrence Millman explains why mushrooms are essential to our planet’s health, their roles in nature, and why he’d rather gaze admiringly at one than sauté it.

Event date
Tuesday, September 24, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Regional historian Hayden Mathews explores the rich heritage of this lovely Eastern Shore town, focusing on both land and sea. The day includes a cruise on a replica of an 18th century vessel, as well as an historic-district walking tour guided by Chestertown’s mayor.

Event date
Friday, September 27, 2019 - 7:45 a.m. to 6:15 p.m.

Regional historian Hayden Mathews explores the rich heritage of this lovely Eastern Shore town, focusing on both land and sea. The day includes a cruise on a replica of an 18th century vessel, as well as an historic-district walking tour guided by Chestertown’s mayor.

Event date
Sunday, September 29, 2019 - 7:45 a.m. to 6:15 p.m.

Learn the benefits of quiet time spent in touch with nature as Melanie Choukas-Bradley, a certified nature and forest-therapy guide and author of The Joy of Forest Bathing, leads a series of 2-hour walks in the Smithsonian’s beautiful Enid A. Haupt Garden.

Event date
Wednesday, October 2, 2019 - 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

Explore the man-made wonders of the C&O Canal, as well as natural beauty of spring along the Potomac River, guided by writer and local historian Garrett Peck. Highlights include the Monocacy Aqueduct, the canal town of Williamsport, the Paw Paw Tunnel, and an overnight stay in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, site of America’s first spa.

Event date
Depart: Sunday, October 20, 2019 - 8:30 a.m.
Return: Monday, October 21, 2019 - 6:30 p.m.

Learn the benefits of quiet time spent in touch with nature as Melanie Choukas-Bradley, a certified nature and forest-therapy guide and author of The Joy of Forest Bathing, leads a series of 2-hour walks in the Smithsonian’s beautiful Enid A. Haupt Garden.

Event date
Tuesday, October 22, 2019 - 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

Learn the benefits of quiet time spent in touch with nature as Melanie Choukas-Bradley, a certified nature and forest-therapy guide and author of The Joy of Forest Bathing, leads a series of 2-hour walks in the Smithsonian’s beautiful Enid A. Haupt Garden.

Event date
Thursday, October 24, 2019 - 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.