25 Things to Do at the Smithsonian in April

25 Things to Do at the Smithsonian in April

Jennifer Barnhart and Rick Lyon with the Avenue Q puppet, Nicky. Barnhart and Lyon will speak at a Smithsonian Associates event on April 27.
Jennifer Barnhart and Rick Lyon with the Avenue Q puppet, Nicky. Barnhart and Lyon will speak at a Smithsonian Associates event on April 27.

Friday, April 5

Jean Case on How to Be Fearless: Philanthropist and technology pioneer Jean Case examines the risk-taking principles that guided notable change-makers from JFK to Jane Goodall to José Andrés and shares how they can be put into action in our own lives. 6:45 p.m. $25-$30

2019 Benjamin Franklin Creativity Laureate Presentation: The Benjamin Franklin Creativity Laureate Award recognizes and celebrates influential thinkers, innovators and catalysts in the arts, sciences and humanities in both traditional and emerging disciplines. Nina Totenberg, NPR's legal affairs correspondent, is the recipient of the 17th annual award, and discusses her career in a lively conversation during the presentation program. 7 p.m. $20-$30

Saturday, April 6

Existentialism: The Human Search for Meaning: As the 20th century emerged, existentialism was the first cultural and philosophical movement to become a major factor in the shaping of modern intellectual thought about what it means to be human. This absorbing all-day seminar examines its major themes, figures and impact, guided by Francis J. Ambrosio of Georgetown University, a specialist in 20th-century European philosophy. 9:30 a.m. $90-$140

Pysanky: A Ukrainian Easter Egg Decorating Workshop: Learn about the tradition of pysanky, the colorful Ukrainian Easter eggs, as you master the egg-waxing and dyeing processes used to create them. This workshop is also available Sunday, April 14. 12 p.m. $65-$85

Handmade Cards: Mother’s Day and More: Spend an afternoon creating springtime holiday cards, as well as those to express thank-yous, congratulations or birthday wishes, all in a memorably personal way. 2 p.m. $65-$75

Sunday, April 7

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 Mozart, Wernick and Shostavkovich. 6 p.m. $50-$60

Monday, April 8

Intro to Watercolor: In a 7-session course, beginning students as well as experienced painters explore watercolor techniques and learn new approaches to painting through classroom demonstration, discussion and experimentation. 10:15 a.m. $235-$285

Tuesday, April 9

Ready to Rock? Join the Smithsonian Boomers Rock ’n’ Roll Chorus: If you love rock and roll, and want to sing some of the greatest hits of all time, join the Boomers Rock ’n’ Roll Chorus, a program geared for people ages 55 and above who love to sing—and there’s no experience required. 8 rehearsals culminate in a free public performance. 6:45 p.m. $100

Wednesday, April 10

Chelsea Clinton on Saving Endangered Species (Morning Program): To mark the publication of her new book, Don’t Let Them Disappear: 12 Endangered Species Across the Globe, Clinton welcomes young readers and their families for a special reading and hands-on activities inspired by the book’s endangered animals. Recommended for children aged 3-5. 10 a.m. $2-$25

Chelsea Clinton on Saving Endangered Species (Evening Program): Clinton discusses what inspired her to write about endangered animals and her passion for writing for young audiences with The Washington Post's Anna Rothschild. All general admission tickets include Clinton’s new book, Don’t Let Them Disappear: 12 Endangered Species Across the Globe. 6:45 p.m. $15-$30

Discovery Theater Play Series: Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: Recycled crafting and interactive songs and movement make this community day the perfect blend of learning and just plain fun. Ages 3-6. Also playing on Thursday-Friday, April 10-12. 10:15 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. $3-$9

Friday, April 12

Capital Cheers: A DC Brew Tour: Washington has always been a thirsty town, with a brewing tradition stretching back centuries. Spend a day tracing its past and sampling its present as local historian Garrett Peck leads a bus tour of brew-related sites. 1 p.m. $150-$200

Beginning Sculpture: In an 8-session course, students work in clay to create portraits from plaster casts and a live model as they develop a basic understanding of the principles and techniques of sculpture. 1:30 p.m. $235-$285

Saturday, April 13

Cultivate and Refine Your Speaking Voice: Your voice is one of the most powerful and revealing things about you. Does yours support or detract from what you want to say? Spend a stimulating day with speech pathologist Laura Purcell Verdun to explore the practical foundations of healthy, effective and dynamic voice use. 9:30 a.m. $90-$140

Tuesday, April 16

Understanding Wagner: No composer changed the aesthetic landscape of the 19th century as thoroughly as did the influential and controversial Richard Wagner (1813–1883). In a 6-session course, popular Smithsonian music lecturer Saul Lilienstein illuminates aspects of Wagner’s life, works, influence and achievements. 12 p.m. $100-$150

Wednesday, April 17

Sogetsu Ikebana: Modern Japanese Flower Arranging: The elegance and aesthetic harmony of ikebana—Japanese flower arranging—have inspired poets and artists since its founding. In this 6-session course for beginning and continuing students, participants learn basic styles of ikebana as taught by the Sogetsu School of Ikebana in Japan. 6:30 p.m. $200-$250

Monday, April 22

Harriet Tubman, Union Spy: One significant aspect of Harriet Tubman’s life is less well-known than her role in the abolitionist movement: her Civil War military service as a spy for the Union Army in South Carolina. Historian Elizabeth Cobbs examines her activities behind enemy lines—including guiding an armed mission that liberated more than 700 slaves. 6:45 p.m. $20-$30

Tuesday, April 23

Discovery Theater Presents Beautiful Biomes: Home sweet biome? A biome is a unique environment that nurtures plants and creatures suited for that special place and climate, such as tundra, desert, rainforest, grassland and ocean. Celebrate Earth Month and step into the Haupt Garden with horticulturists from Smithsonian Gardens and discover how all living things—including the earth itself—are connected by adaptation to the beautiful biomes we call home. Ages 5-10. Also playing Wednesday, April 24. 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. $3-9

Writer Geraldine Brooks on Little Women at 150: Author Geraldine Brooks examines the enduring appeal of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved novel and its roots in the author’s life. Brooks, who drew on the Civil War-era experiences of the family’s head, Bronson Alcott, in her Pulitzer Prize–winning novel March, explores how Alcott’s radical parents and their progressive intellectual milieu shaped the woman, and the writer, she became. 6:45 p.m. $20-$30

Wednesday, April 24

The World of Poldark: Late 18th-century England is the backdrop for the British series Poldark on PBS. Ross Poldark is the dashing hero caught up in the social, political and economic changes swirling around him. Find out what the series, set in rugged Cornwall, gets right about the period. 6:45 p.m. $30-$45

Thursday, April 25

How To Set the Italian Table: Pull up a chair as food writer Elizabeth Minchilli and cookbook author Domenica Marchetti serve up a lively discussion about what goes into an Italian meal. They consider the country’s many food-focused traditions, as well as the way they are celebrated every day at the table. 6:45 p.m. $30-$45

Mary McDonnell’s Class Act: From Dances with Wolves to “Major Crimes”: The two-time Oscar-nominated actress known for portraying powerful and complex female characters discusses her life and career in films, theatre and television. 6:45 p.m. $20-$30

Saturday, April 27

Celebrating Avenue Q: The show that proved that being a puppet is no barrier to being a Broadway star marks the end of its more than 6,000 New York performances in May. Before the final curtain falls, join two of Avenue Q’s non-puppet original cast members, Rick Lyon and Jennifer Barnhart for some behind-the-scenes insights on the development, history and impact of the Tony-winning musical, and its groundbreaking use of puppetry on stage. 7 p.m. $30-$45

Sunday, April 28

New Roots for Medicinal Plants: Medicinal plants have a long history across civilizations, and are garnering attention as the influences of herbalism and natural medicine move into the mainstream. Join Niraj Ray, founder of Cultivate the City, on the rooftop of its urban farm and learn how to utilize a diversity of these plants for both food and medical purposes. 2 p.m. $30-$45

Tuesday, April 30

The CIA and the Presidents: An Ever-Changing Relationship: The sprawling Central Intelligence Agency has thousands of eyes and ears, but only one client: the president of the United States. The CIA’s chief historian David Robarge discusses the agency’s changing role throughout administrations, and how presidents’ experience with intelligence and their foreign policy agendas have affected that relationship. 6:45 p.m. $30-$45

For a full calendar of Smithsonian Associates events, visit