Breakfast at the Zoo and 25 Other Things to Do at the Smithsonian in September

Breakfast at the Zoo and 25 Other Things to Do at the Smithsonian in September

At Smithsonian Associates' annual Breakfast at the Zoo on Sept. 14, animal keepers will give informal talks offering participants a chance to see selected animals up close. (Norwood Photography)
At Smithsonian Associates' annual Breakfast at the Zoo on Sept. 14, animal keepers will give informal talks offering participants a chance to see selected animals up close. (Norwood Photography)

Thursday, September 5

Aristotle and Alexander: The Power of a Teacher: The long relationship between the ancient world’s most profound philosopher and his student—that world’s most powerful conqueror—reveals a stark contrast: One dominated by the power of his mind, the other by the might of his sword. Author and classics professor John Prevas examines a fascinating saga of ideals, ego, brutality and betrayal that played out against the backdrop of an empire. 6:45 p.m. $30-$45

Friday, September 6

How Thomas Edison Transformed Technological Innovation: 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. 6:45 p.m. $30-$45

Saturday, September 7

English Precious Metal Embroidery: Silken Gilded Acorns: In a two-session weekend workshop, students can immerse themselves in the history of this most luxurious and regal form of embroidery by creating a Tudor-style gilded acorn motif using materials from the goldsmith purveyors to HM Queen Elizabeth II. 9:30 a.m. $165-$185

More Great Controversies in Early Christianity: Bart Ehrman Ponders Four New Questions: Scholars of the New Testament and early Christianity continue to debate a number of crucial issues that matter not only to people of faith, but also to anyone interested in the history of the world’s largest religion. In an all-day seminar, Bart Ehrman, a leading authority on early Christianity, the New Testament and the life of Jesus, returns to explore four more intriguing questions of faith and Biblical scholarship. 9:30 a.m. $90-$140

Plein Air Painting: Using the Smithsonian gardens as inspiration, students learn the secrets of plein air landscape and architectural painting on location. This is a four-session weekend course. 1 p.m. $185-$205

Developing Black-and-White Film at Home: Processing 35mm or 120mm black-and-white film at home is cost-effective, and typically provides better results. Students can get all the skills they need to begin at this information-packed, hands-on two-session workshop. 1:30 p.m. $65-$75

Monday, September 9

Dining with da Vinci: Feasts of the Imagination: He’s known as one of the world’s most prolific creators, but there’s an overlooked role that’s worth considering when celebrating the genius of Leonardo da Vinci: Renaissance foodie. Food historian Francine Segan sets da Vinci in the context of the culinary culture and manners of the Italian Renaissance and explores his appetites for a life he richly savored. 6:45 p.m. $45-$55

Smithsonian Boomers Chorus performs in the Smithsonian's S. Dillon Ripley Center. The Boomers Chorus is geared for people ages 55 and above who love to sing—no experience required. (Norwood Photography)

Tuesday, September 10

Smithsonian Boomers Chorus: Singing the '60s and '70s: The Smithsonian Boomers Chorus returns for a second season; this time singing the greatest hits of the '60s and '70s! This program is geared for people ages 55 and above who love to sing (no experience required). This is a nine-session program including performance. 6:45 p.m. $100

Wonders of the Ocean: Richard Smith's Colorful World Beneath: 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. 6:45 p.m. $20-$30

Wednesday, September 11

The Peacock Room in Context: Long considered one of the Smithsonian’s treasures, James McNeill Whistler’s Peacock Room is an icon of aesthetic design. Kerry Roeder, the Luce curatorial fellow in American art at the Freer|Sackler, and an adjunct faculty member at George Mason University, discusses the scandalous history of the room and the challenges posed by the museum’s attempt to re-create the artist’s original vision of the space. 6:45 p.m. $20-$30

Friday, September 13

Picasso: Beyond Innovation: Forty-six years after his death, Picasso still looms large in our world. Art historian Nancy G. Heller examines an extraordinary career that sparked both scandal and reverence and that came to define the creative spirit of 20th century art. 6:45 p.m. $30-$45

Smithsonian Associates members and their guests enjoy a breakfast buffet and live music at the Smithsonian's National Zoo before it opens to the public. This year's Breakfast at the Zoo will be held September 14. (Norwood Photography)

Saturday, September 14

Breakfast at the Zoo: Look Who’s New! It’s a day of family fun at Smithsonian Associates’ annual Breakfast at the Zoo. After enjoying a breakfast buffet and performance on Lion and Tiger Hill, young guests and their families can visit three children’s activity corners, each focusing on games and projects that reflect the habitats of the newest arrivals. In a special feature this year, Eva Pell, former under secretary for science at the Smithsonian, reads from her new book, ResQ and the Baby Orangutan, set in the wilds of Borneo. Readings will be at 8:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. (for the general public). The breakfast is open only to Smithsonian Associates members and their guests. 8 a.m. $15-$25

A War Correspondent at Gettysburg: A Reporter's Mission, a Father's Search: In an all-day tour on the sites at Gettysburg National Military Park, experience the bloody conflict at Gettysburg through a highly personal lens: the story of 19-year-old Bayard Wilkeson, a missing Union artillery officer, and his father Sam, a reporter for The New York Times who spent three days on the battlefield in search of his son. 8:45 a.m. $155-$205

A Day at the Prado: Celebrating 200 Years of Artistic Splendor: Art historian Nancy G. Heller explores some of the Prado’s most important masterworks, traces its significance as a treasury of traditional Spanish art, and how a new gallery expansion has widened the museum’s scope to embrace contemporary works from Spain and elsewhere. This all-day program includes a Spanish-themed lunch. 9:30 a.m. $110-$160

Log Cabin Quilting: Make a Table Runner: The traditional Log Cabin block offers a wonderful framework for exploring color and value contrast—and for spontaneous sewing. Students learn an efficient flag-piecing technique, then finish their completed blocks as a throw or a table runner. 10:30 a.m. $65-$75

The Phoenicians and Their Colonies: Archaeologist Robert Stieglitz explores the history and cultural heritage of the civilization that brought urban life and literacy to the ancient western Mediterranean. 9:30 a.m. $90-$140

Sunday, September 15

Everything Orchids: 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 participants will take home an orchid they’ve learned to re-pot. 2 p.m. $75-$85

Monday, September 16

Space 2.0: The Future of Space Exploration: Space historian Rod Pyle, in collaboration with the National Space Society, provides an inside look at the next few decades of spaceflight and long-term plans for exploration, utilization and settlement. 6:45 p.m. $15-$35

Tuesday, September 17

The Evolution of the Brain: A Four Billion-Year Project: 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. 6:45 p.m. $20-$30

Friday, September 20

How the Cocktail Conquered the World: D.C. bartender and spirits expert Derek Brown raises a toast to the fascinating history of the cocktail—and its place in America’s history as well. He traces the potable's birth, rise, fall and eventual resurrection, spotlighting some of the men and women who made their mark on cocktail culture. Following the presentation, guests can enjoy an Old Fashioned or Rickey. 6:45 p.m. $35-$50

Saturday, September 21

Children’s Book Illustration Workshop: Creating illustrations for a children’s manuscript is loads of fun once you get to know the basics. Learn the foundations of bringing a story to life through pictures. 12 p.m. $95-$125

Sunday, September 22

Researching Jewish Genealogy: Portals to a Timeless Heritage: Karen S. Franklin, a consultant for the Museum of Jewish Heritage, guides participants through the process of successfully exploring their family’s past or Holocaust-era history using a wealth of genealogical resources—many of them online. 9:30 a.m. $90-$140

Monday, September 23

The League of Nations: The Quest for World Peace Between the Wars: Woodrow Wilson’s post-WWI idea of collective security became realized in the founding of the League of Nations in 1920—and collapsed 26 years later. Historian and author Garrett Peck examines how the league came to be, its successes and failures, and its resurrection through the United Nations after World War II. 6:45 p.m. $30-$45

Tuesday, September 24

Fungipedia: The Strange and Wonderful World of Fungi: 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. 6:45 p.m. $20-$30

Friday, September 27

Wine 101: A Top Sommelier's Guide: Perplexed by wine lists or selecting a bottle to bring to dinner? Join Food and Wine magazine’s 2019 Sommelier of the Year, Erik Segelbaum, in an enjoyable interactive workshop designed to boost the wine IQ and confidence of both novices and seasoned aficionados. This program will also be held Saturday, September 28. 6:45 p.m. $80-$100

Saturday, September 28

Write a Novel in a Month: Each November, thousands of writers around the world sign up for the National Novel Writing Month Challenge: drafting at least 50,000 words of their novel in "30 days and nights of literary abandon." Whether you take up the challenge or just want a solid base to begin or continue a novel at your own pace, this seminar, led by writing coach and author Kathryn Johnson, is for you. 9:30 a.m. $90-$140