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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

Study Tours

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.

Lincoln in Virginia: A Wartime Journey

Abraham Lincoln spent 18 of his last 21 days of life not in Washington but in eastern Virginia, headquarters for Ulysses S. Grant’s campaign against Robert E. Lee. Trace his steps through sites in the region which offer new insights into a war-weary president—and nation—at a pivotal moment in history.

Date of event
Saturday, April 25, 2020 - 7:15 a.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.

Hiking in Shenandoah National Park

In a two-day active getaway designed for outdoor lovers, explore Blue Ridge trails at the height of their spring beauty, and stay at an historic lodge on Skyline Drive that offers magnificent panoramic views of the mountain landscapes.

Date of event
Depart: Sunday, May 3, 2020 - 8:30 a.m.
Return: Monday, May 4, 2020 - 7:30 p.m.

Doodlebugging Through Delaware

Hop aboard a private charter of an early 20th-century self-propelled railcar called the Doodlebug and take in the spring sights along the historic Wilmington and Western Railroad line. As you ride, railroad historian Joe Nevin covers the colorful background of the W&W and offers stories of the once-bustling industrial towns along the branch line.

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

Giants in the Sky: Mighty Military Aircraft

Their names tell the story of these magnificent flying machines: Galaxy, Globemaster, Starlifter, and others. They are among the largest and most specialized aircraft ever to fly with the United States military. Join pilot and transportation expert Scott Hercik as he goes behind the scenes and onboard these giant aircraft that carry soldiers and their supplies around the world.

Date of event
Tuesday, May 19, 2020 - 7:30 a.m.

A Mountain Rail Extravaganza

All aboard for an exciting multi-day rail journey through West Virginia’s breathtaking mountain scenery led by railroad historian Joe Nevin

Date of event
Depart: Friday, June 5, 2020 - 8:00 a.m.
Return: Sunday, June 7, 2020 - 7:30 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.

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.

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.

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.

A Carolina Fourth: Baseball, Barbeque, and Fireworks

Sign on for a 5-day tour that explores North Carolina’s minor-league baseball revival. Watch games featuring upcoming stars, hear stories from insiders, and enjoy the best of North Carolina barbecue.

Date of event
Depart: Wednesday, July 1, 2020 - 7:30 a.m.
Return: Sunday, July 5, 2020 - 3:00 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.

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.

Theodore Roosevelt's North Dakota: Badlands, Bison, and the Making of a Conservationist

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.

Date of event
Depart: Saturday, September 19, 2020 - 6 p.m.
Return: Wednesday, September 23, 2020 - Mid-afternoon

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.

Gold Rush California: An Adventure Into History

The discovery of gold in 1848 forever altered California and the nation’s destiny. Author and historian Garrett Peck leads a unique visit to the places where the dreams of hundreds of thousands of fortune seekers unfolded.

Date of event
Depart: Saturday, October 10, 2020 - 6:00 p.m.
Return: Thursday, October 15, 2020 - 11:00 a.m.

An Immersion in Nature: Japanese “Forest Bathing”—Urban Style

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 2-hour walk in the Smithsonian’s beautiful Enid A. Haupt Garden.

Date of event
Tuesday, October 20, 2020 - 8:45 a.m.

Women in Wartime: Stories from Gettysburg

Thousands of disparate women were connected by their experiences amid the horrors of the Civil War’s bloodiest battle. Author Chuck Raasch retells their often-overlooked stories of bravery and life-changing actions at the sites on which they unfolded at Gettysburg National Military Park.

Date of event
Saturday, October 24, 2020 - 8:30 a.m.

An Immersion in Nature: Japanese “Forest Bathing”—Urban Style

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 2-hour walk in the Smithsonian’s beautiful Enid A. Haupt Garden.

Date of event
Tuesday, October 27, 2020 - 8:45 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 Smithsonian Greenhouses and How They Grow

One of the joys of a Smithsonian visit in any season is the gloriously varied greenery and flowers that brighten your paths indoors and out. Get a preview of what spring will look like on the National Mall with a visit to the source of all that natural beauty: the Smithsonian Gardens greenhouse facility in Suitland, Maryland.

Date of event
Thursday, November 19, 2020 - 12:30 p.m.