Skip to main content
Lectures
David Bowie Is: Celebrating an Artist of Startling Transformations

The life and work of David Bowie, one of rock’s most pioneering and influential performers, are the subject of an exhibition, David Bowie Is, which ends its world tour at the Brooklyn Museum in July. Matthew Yokobosky, senior curator of fashion and material culture at the Brooklyn Museum, discusses how the exhibition creates an immersive, visitor experience featuring Bowie’s art.

Date
Friday, July 20, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Tesla: The Man, the Mystery, the Inventor of the Modern

Nikola Tesla invented the radio, the induction motor, the neon lamp, and the remote control. His brilliant but decidedly strange persona, however, prevented his most advanced ideas from being recognized for decades. Biographer Richard Munson shines a light on a magnificently bizarre genius.

Date
Monday, July 23, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
America’s Authentic Revolutionaries: Jefferson, Paine, and Monroe

Historian John Ferling explores the careers and revolutionary passions of a trio of Founding Fathers who envisioned a new era of independence in which both America and France were swept free of ruling monarchies.

Date
Tuesday, July 24, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Secrets and Survival in the Mideast: A Former CIA Agent Shares Her Story

For undercover CIA officer Michele Rigby Assad, the dangers and difficulties she faced during a decade working in the Middle East were intensified by an important fact: She was a female leader secreted within the patriarchal Arab culture. Assad reveals how she transformed the factors stacked against her into strategic advantages.

Date
Wednesday, July 25, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech: A Conversation with Melissa Chiu and Franklin Foer

Franklin Foer, national correspondent at The Atlantic, sits down with Melissa Chiu, director of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, for a discussion about the vexing issues posed by the growing power of “Big Technology.” Together they explore the tension between technology and privacy with which everyone who has a digital life has to deal.

Date
Thursday, July 26, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
A Toast to the Rat Pack

Author and cocktail expert Philip Green celebrates the spirit—and the favorite spirits—of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, and other members of the swingin’, high-living clan who came to symbolize ’60s-style cool onstage and off.

Date
Thursday, August 2, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
New Frontiers and Old Traditions: Trends in South American and Australian Wines

Argentine Malbec and Aussie Shiraz may still rule the export markets, but today’s producers in South America and Australia create a richly varied range of high-quality wines that deserve to be better known. Joined by a pair of wine experts, Taylor Parsons, a Los Angeles-based sommelier, guides a two-part exploration of the history, development, and diversity of these two pivotal axes of the wine world. This session focuses on South American wines.

Date
Friday, August 3, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
New Frontiers and Old Traditions: Trends in South American and Australian Wines

Argentine Malbec and Aussie Shiraz may still rule the export markets, but today’s producers in South America and Australia create a richly varied range of high-quality wines that deserve to be better known. Joined by a pair of wine experts, Taylor Parsons, a Los Angeles-based sommelier, guides a two-part exploration of the history, development, and diversity of these two pivotal axes of the wine world. This session focuses on Australian wines.

Date
Saturday, August 4, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Strange and Curious Smithsonian Jobs: Real Gems - Rubies and Ruby Slippers

Meet two professionals entrusted with some of the most glittering of the Smithsonian’s treasures. Jeffrey Post, curator of the National Gems and Minerals Collection, and Dawn Wallace, the conservator who is preserving the sparkle in Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers, offer a fascinating glimpse into the work they do.

Date
Monday, August 6, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Fred Rogers: America's Favorite Neighbor

Fred Rogers, whose beloved television program invited children into his neighborhood for nearly four decades, is enjoying a resurgence in the cultural spotlight these days. Join Karen Struble Myers of the Fred Rogers Center at Saint Vincent College to examine how a small-town childhood shaped his thoughtful children's programming.

Date
Monday, August 6, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
The Trojan War: The Epic in Art

With its timeless mythic themes of beauty, heroic courage, and sacrifice, the story of the Trojan War has long been retold and interpreted by writers and artists. Art historian Renee Gondek examines the legend’s power through works it inspired, weaving together ancient literary sources and a variety of visual depictions that span the centuries. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date
Tuesday, August 7, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
The Art of Burning Man: From the Desert to DC

For the exhibition No Spectators, the Renwick Gallery fills the complete museum—and some of the neighborhood streets—with the explosively fantastic experimental art spawned in the Nevada desert at Burning Man. Join Stephanie Stebich, director of the American Art Museum, for an overview of the exhibition, as well as insights from her own experience at Burning Man 2017. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date
Tuesday, August 7, 2018 – 6:45 p.m.
The Art of Burning Man: From the Desert to DC

Includes Tour: For the exhibition No Spectators, the Renwick Gallery fills the complete museum—and some of the neighborhood streets—with the explosively fantastic experimental art spawned in the Nevada desert at Burning Man. Join Stephanie Stebich, director of the American Art Museum, for an overview of the exhibition, as well as insights from her own experience at Burning Man 2017. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date
Program: Tuesday, August 7, 2018 – 6:45 p.m.
Tour: Thursday, August 9, 2018 – 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Stalingrad: Turning Point of World War II in Europe

Author and retired military archivist Timothy Mulligan examines the history, leaders, political framework, and devastating human cost of the month’s-long battle that dwarfed the 1944–45 Allied campaign in Western Europe both in it numbers and ferocity. 

Date
Thursday, August 9, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
The Art of Burning Man: From the Desert to DC

Includes Tour: For the exhibition No Spectators, the Renwick Gallery fills the complete museum—and some of the neighborhood streets—with the explosively fantastic experimental art spawned in the Nevada desert at Burning Man. Join Stephanie Stebich, director of the American Art Museum, for an overview of the exhibition, as well as insights from her own experience at Burning Man 2017. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date
Program: Tuesday, August 7, 2018 – 6:45 p.m.
Tour: Friday, August 10, 2018 – 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Heavenly Bodies at the Met: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination

A new exhibition at the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art examines fashion's ongoing engagement with the devotional practices and traditions of Catholicism. Inspired by the exhibition, art historian Anne Higonnet surveys an unexpected range of style leaders, from the archangel Gabriel to Pope Francis I, and their influence on recent fashion.

Date
Wednesday, August 15, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
The Garden in Your Beer

Since the beginnings of beer, brewers have used a variety of cultivated and foraged ingredients for added flavor and preservation. Take a look at the garden through the lens of the botanicals, spices, wild yeasts, fruits, berries, and hops that flavor your favorite beer.

Date
Thursday, August 16, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Mixing Cocktails With Panache: Drinks From the Bar at Quill

Katie Dandridge, one of the cocktail experts from Quill, the lounge at Washington’s Jefferson Hotel, leads a hands-on class (and tasting) for amateur mixologists who want to learn how to shake things up at home.

Date
Saturday, August 18, 2018 - 3:00 p.m.
Discover Your Backyard: Great Hikes Within and Around the Beltway

Whether you’re looking for a trail that offers great scenery, history, family fun, or a challenge to your hiking skills, Renee Sklarew and Rachel Cooper, authors of 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Washington, D.C., know all the right spots for your fall excursions.

Date
Wednesday, August 22, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
A DC Theatre Season Preview

With more than 80 professional companies in the area, how can theater fans know what might be the hottest ticket in town, what’s worth the price, and what they might be able to skip? Turn to Lorraine Treanor, editor of DC Theatre Scene, who reveal what’s buzz-worthy in the bountiful 2018–2019 season.

Date
Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
China and Japan: A History of Empires

The influence of China and Japan on global history has been immense, and goes back further than many Americans may realize. To understand these nations in the context of the modern world, Justin M. Jacobs, associate professor of history at American University, provides a comprehensive perspective on thousands of years of their pasts in an informative lecture series. This session focuses on ancient Chinese philosophers.

Date
Tuesday, September 4, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
The Many Cultures of Taiwan

Taiwan and its many smaller offshore islands may not be huge in area, but they contain vast history, traditions, cultures, and natural attractions. Get ready to explore many of the treats Taiwan has to offer and discover many of its indigenous cultures during a single spectacular evening, featuring Taiwanese music and food and drink samples.

Date
Thursday, September 6, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Blueprints of Empire: Ancient Rome and America

Steve Forbes, editor-in-chief of Forbes, and historian and classicist John Prevas examine the connection between the final stages of the Roman Empire and the United States as a contemporary world power. Through an analysis of political and moral leadership, they compare these two versions of empires, their similarities and differences, and speculate on what that link holds for America’s future.

Date
Thursday, September 6, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Pick Your Poison, Royal Style

For centuries, Europe’s royals were frightened there might be poison in their pie, so servants were forced to lick the royal family’s spoons. Perilous potions and royal schemes are the subject of historian Eleanor Herman’s entertaining discussion about the eras when mercury ointment, dead birds, and arsenic and quicksilver were part of many a royal’s first-aid kit.

Date
Wednesday, September 12, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Star Power: Inside the Michelin Guide

When the Michelin Guide, a powerful arbiter of taste, arrived in Washington in 2016, it was widely interpreted as validation of the city’s culinary pedigree. In a special evening that follows the launch of this year’s guide, hear about the newly selected Washington “stars” from Michael Ellis, Michelin’s international director.

Date
Friday, September 14, 2018 - 11:00 a.m.
The Biggest and Best Eyes on the Skies: Telescopic Revelations

Hubble. Chandra. Spitzer. Kepler. Over the years, these and other space telescopes have revealed the wonders of the cosmos to scientists and other stargazers. Sam Quinn, an astronomer with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, tells us what new wonders might be revealed by those amazing eyes in the sky.

Date
Monday, September 17, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Flying Aces of WWI

Early in the last century, a group of young men from several nations took to the sky to do battle in World War I. They went on to achieve a status similar to modern-day rock stars. Learn about the exploits of these daring flying aces—many of whom didn’t survive the war.

Date
Thursday, September 20, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
A Private Lunch at Sababa: Israeli Cool

Sababa is Hebrew slang for great or cool. It is also the name of a new contemporary Israeli restaurant in Cleveland Park. Sababa opens exclusively to Smithsonian guests for a family-style lunch and a glass of wine—and author and culinary expert Joan Nathan adds a dash of cultural context to the proceedings.

Date
Friday, September 21, 2018 - 12:00 p.m.
Music from the Anacostia Delta: Celebrating the Legacy of Washington’s Guitar Masters

The late great guitarist Danny Gatton was the preeminent artist of a uniquely Washington sound—a virtuosic blend of rock and roll, jazz, blues, rockabilly, country, and soul that he said came from the Anacostia Delta. Experience that unique form as several master Anacostia Delta musicians gather to celebrate the music in stories and performance.

Date
Tuesday, September 25, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Maryland: A Fertile State for Dinosaur Fossils

Ray Stanford, a self-taught fossil hunter, accidentally found the tracks of five dinosaur species in the parking lot of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt. Stanford, who has tracked dinosaurs for 25 years, talks about the amazing diversity of fossils preserved within Maryland, from Ice-Age mammals to fossils hundreds of millions of years old.

Date
Tuesday, September 25, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Richard III: The Search for the “Real” King

Richard III is one of the most famous—and possibly the most infamous—of all British monarchs. For more than 500 years, his true nature has been debated. Renaissance scholar Carol Ann Lloyd Stanger explores the various attempts to portray Richard III over the centuries, from the villain of Shakespeare to the hero of his followers.

Date
Wednesday, September 26, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Perfect Pairings: Natural Wines and Your Favorite Foods

Have you heard the new culinary term, “wine food”? It refers to matching a wider range of wines to food. Dana Frank and Andrea Slonecker, authors of Wine Food, discuss a range of distinctive flavors that natural wines offer, and how to match them with your favorite foods. Stay for a specially paired bite and sip.

Date
Thursday, September 27, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
The World Series: Baseball’s Prize

Join John McMurray, chair of the Deadball Era Committee and Oral History Committee of the Society for American Baseball Research, for an examination of how the World Series came to be, its evolution, and a fascinating replay of highlights from Series history. 

Date
Monday, October 1, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
China and Japan: A History of Empires

The influence of China and Japan on global history has been immense, and goes back further than many Americans may realize. To understand these nations in the context of the modern world, Justin M. Jacobs, associate professor of history at American University, provides a comprehensive perspective on thousands of years of their pasts in an informative lecture series. This session focuses on ancient China.

Date
Tuesday, October 2, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Gershwin, by George!

Pianist and Gershwin authority Robert Wyatt explores the composer’s life and legacy in a lively program that includes Wyatt’s performances of the solo version of Rhapsody in Blue, early and unpublished music, the piano improvisations, and other Gershwin musical selections. 

Date
Wednesday, October 3, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Novelist Jodi Picoult: Her Latest Tough Topic

Popular author Jodi Picoult is known for addressing tough topics in her novels. This evening, she talks about her career, her writing process, and how the issues she tackles in her new novel, A Spark of Light, spoke to her as a writer.

Date
Wednesday, October 3, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Sicily’s World of Food and Culture

Sicily bears fascinating traces in art, architecture, and cuisine of the many civilizations that have ruled it over the centuries. Food historian Francine Segan examines how a myriad of cultures influenced the flavors of this island’s iconic dishes. After the program, sample Sicilian history at a reception featuring the region’s desserts and wines.

Date
Tuesday, October 9, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Chocolate! Cioccolato! Schokolade! Chocolat!

Chocolate has quite a history—and it’s delicious. Join food historian Francine Segan as she explores its evolution from ancient grainy bitter brew to the smooth and luscious treat we love today. And stay for a tasting of imported Italian chocolates paired with selected French red wine.

Date
Wednesday, October 10, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
China and Japan: A History of Empires

The influence of China and Japan on global history has been immense, and goes back further than many Americans may realize. To understand these nations in the context of the modern world, Justin M. Jacobs, associate professor of history at American University, provides a comprehensive perspective on thousands of years of their pasts in an informative lecture series. This session focuses on modern Chinese history.

Date
Tuesday, November 6, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
China and Japan: A History of Empires

The influence of China and Japan on global history has been immense, and goes back further than many Americans may realize. To understand these nations in the context of the modern world, Justin M. Jacobs, associate professor of history at American University, provides a comprehensive perspective on thousands of years of their pasts in an informative lecture series. This session focuses on the Japanese Empire.

Date
Tuesday, December 4, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.