15 Things to Do at the Smithsonian in January

15 Things to Do at the Smithsonian in January

Emerson String Quartet (Tristan Cook)
Emerson String Quartet (Tristan Cook)

Saturday, January 5

The Emerson String Quartet 2018–19 Season: The Emerson String Quartet stands apart in the history of string quartets with an unparalleled list of achievements over three decades, including more than 30 acclaimed recordings, nine Grammy’s, three Gramophone Awards, and the Avery Fisher Prize. This concert features music by Copland, Shostavkovich and Beethoven. 6 p.m. $50-$60

Monday, January 7

J.D. Salinger: The Eloquent Recluse: The author of The Catcher in the Rye and other seminal works of midcentury fiction led a life of self-imposed seclusion from the public, preferring to let his writing speak for him. He’s in the spotlight in this evening program as author Daniel Stashower explores Salinger’s life and legacy and actor Scott Sedar reads a selection of his most celebrated works. A reception follows the program. 6:45 p.m. $45-$60

Tuesday, January 8

Chesapeake Cuisine: Nourishing a Healthier Bay: Baltimore-based chef John Shields, dubbed the “culinary ambassador of the Chesapeake,” guides home cooks in preparing dishes in the Chesapeake tradition that are tasty and healthy—and support the regional food industry’s efforts to protect the Bay. A tasting follows the program. 6:45 p.m. $30-$45

Wednesday, January 9

Painting is for Everyone: If you’ve ever wanted to paint, here’s a class that offers the perfect introduction to the art—and will have you ready to pick up your brush with confidence. 2 p.m. $225-$275 (8 session-course)

Thursday, January 10

Calligraphy: Introduction to the Italic Hand: The elegant and enduring Italic script has a venerable legacy. Begin your study of these versatile hand-written alphabets, which translate well into many practical and artistic applications. 10:15 a.m. $245-$295 (8 session-course)

Rescuing Lt. Col. Hambleton: A Win in a War of Losses: By 1972, support for the conflict in Vietnam was rapidly waning among Americans, and many of the troops fighting that war had begun to question the meaning of their own service. Author Stephen Talty examines why the dramatic and dangerous mission to rescue an Air Force navigator behind enemy lines provided a galvanizing moment for both the public and the military. 6:45 p.m. $20-$30

Saturday, January 12

Churchill: The Man Behind the Myths: In an all-day program with lunch, historian Kevin Matthews discusses Winston Churchill’s tempestuous career as an army officer, war correspondent, member of Parliament and minister in both Liberal and Conservative governments to reveal a man too often hidden by the post-World War II legends that surround him. 9:30 a.m. $110-$160

Quilting for Beginners: A Small Handmade Quilt: Learn the basics of hand-stitched quilt-making—including piecing, applique and finishing techniques—as you work on a small-scale piece that can be used as a doll quilt or a wall hanging. 10 a.m. $125-$145 (3-session course)

Tuesday, January 15

Voices From the Fourth Estate: Veteran Journalists and the News: Nobody seems to have a neutral opinion about journalists, particularly now. Get some first-hand insights in a five-part series in which some of the best of the best discuss life in the Washington trenches. Cokie Roberts, political commentator for ABC News and a senior news analyst for National Public Radio, and Steve Roberts, a journalist for almost 50 years, covering some of the major events of his time, kick off the series. 7 p.m. $110-160 (5-session course)

Wednesday, January 16

The Stories Behind Harry Potter’s Magic: The extraordinary world that J.K. Rowling created in the first Harry Potter book in 1997 has expanded into a universe that millions of readers and moviegoers have embraced. Curator Cristian Petru Panaite reveals the roots of that world, which reach far deeper in time to cultural traditions of magic and folklore that have captivated imaginations for centuries. 6:45 p.m. $15-$35 (Child price available for children aged 10-15)

Discovery Play Series: Here We Go Team! This Smithsonian Discovery Theater original scores big in a musical play about sharing and taking turns, the importance of personal space and the awesome power of teamwork. Five-year-olds Bobby and Casey are aspiring soccer stars and best friends—but they’ve ended up on separate teams! Sharing, personal space and respect are team values in this play about friendship and fun for ages 3-6. Also playing on Thursday, January 17. 10:15 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. $3-$8

Wednesday, January 23

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Political Legacy: Brandon Terry of Harvard University examines the ethical and political thought of arguably the greatest public intellectual and activist that the United States ever produced. He contends that King’s body of philosophy offers indispensable resources for addressing many of our current political crises. 6:45 p.m. $30-$45

Saturday, January 26

Inside Shakespeare: Shakespeare created worlds out of words that have informed and shaped our language and culture for more than 400 years. In a daylong seminar, Tudor and Renaissance scholar Carol Ann Lloyd Stanger examines how his histories, tragedies and comedies so insightfully capture the full spectrum of the human condition. 9:30 a.m. $90-$140

Monday, January 28

A Toast to the Rat Pack: Author and cocktail expert Philip Green and author Noah Rothbaum celebrate 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. 6:45 p.m. $50-$65

Tuesday, January 29

Bach and Handel: Two Titans of the Baroque: Though they shared a birth year, a native country and dominance of their era’s musical world, Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frederic Handel never met. Saul Lilienstein brings them together in a six-part series that explores their creative genius and their legacies. 12 p.m. $100-$150 (6-session course)

For a full calendar of Smithsonian Associates events, visit