Smithsonian’s National Gem Collection Unearthed and 34 More Programs Streaming in May

Smithsonian Associates Streaming presents surprising stories behind the jewels in the Smithsonian National Gem Collection. (Hope Diamond, Chip Clark)
Smithsonian Associates Streaming presents surprising stories behind the jewels in the Smithsonian National Gem Collection. (Hope Diamond, Chip Clark)

Smithsonian Associates Streaming continues through May with individual programs, multi-part courses, studio arts classes and virtual study tours produced by the world’s largest museum-based educational program.

Saturday, May 1

Introduction to Lightroom: Adobe Lightroom is the most useful (and user friendly) software for organizing and editing images, usable for both RAW and JPEG image files. This two-session workshop offers users an overview of the program, with a focus on working with the essential Library and Develop modules for organizing and editing your files. 9:30 a.m. ET $275-$295

Flash Quilt Stories: Inspired by the 6-Word Memoir Project, learn to capture quick images of personal stories in quilted wall-hangings. 1:30 p.m. ET $45-$55

Monday, May 3

African Art and the Slave Trade: The trauma of the slave trade forever altered Africa’s cultural history. Art historian Kevin Tervala examines the Atlantic and Indian Ocean slave trades, with a focus on how African artists—and the societies that they were a part of—reacted to the sudden and brutal disruption and transformation and depopulation of the world’s second-largest continent. He also highlights how the slave trade simultaneously brought great wealth, and with it, luxurious arts made in silver and gold. Smithsonian World Art History Certificate enrollees receive 1/2 credit. 6:45 p.m. ET $20-$25

The Joy of Photography: Designed for beginners who want to learn how to use their digital or mirrorless camera as a creative tool, students will gain skill in technical aspects of photography so that they can concentrate on composing beautiful images. 6:30 p.m. ET $165-$185

Wednesday, May 5

Pioneering Women in Architecture: During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the emerging profession of architecture in America was very much a man’s world—but talented and tenacious women created doorways into it. Lecturer Bill Keene examines the notable careers of three of those pioneers and their importance in the development of the field. 7 p.m. ET $25-$30

CULINASIA: Saving Chinatown and Our Legacies: In the Covid era, anti-Asian racism and violence has been widespread, and many Asian restaurants both large and small have permanently closed their doors. Why are the survival of Chinese restaurants and the preservation of the legacy of Asian food in America so essential to the soul of our cities? In a free program, a panel of chefs, advocates, and activists discuss the future of Chinatowns across the country. 6:30 p.m. ET Free, registration is required.

Thursday, May 6

Introduction to Watercolor: Beginning students as well as experienced painters explore watercolor techniques and learn new approaches to painting through demonstration, discussion and experimentation. 12 p.m. ET $245-$275

Three Ordinary Girls: Women Resistance Fighters in WWII Netherlands: Explore the Netherlands’ resistance during World War II through the amazing story of three young women whose duties included explosive sabotage and face-to-face assassinations. 12 p.m. ET $20-$25

Friday, May 7

Wherever I May Rhône: Spend a fascinating Friday evening expanding your knowledge of the world of wine as you sip along with sommelier Erik Segelbaum in a series of delectable adventures. This immersive program showcases Rhône Valley wines and includes a curated personal tasting kit to enhance the experience. 6 p.m. ET $65-$75


Saturday, May 8

Gyotaku: The Japanese Art of Printing with Fish: Using direct printing and water-based printing inks, create realistic looking schools of fish or a single artistic print simply by inking a whole fish and pressing it to paper. 10 a.m. ET $75-$85

Emerging Safari Destinations of the World: Virtual Safaris with Russell Gammon: Cutting-edge ecotourism companies are pioneering small-group safaris to new destinations that offer unique wildlife encounters for adventurous travelers. Join wilderness guide and wildlife photographer Russell Gammon for a series of virtual safaris to hidden corners of Africa, Asia, and South America in search of some of the rarest and most iconic creatures on the planet. 10 a.m. ET $65

Monday, May 10

Lunchtime with a Curator: Decorative Arts Design Series: Curator Elizabeth Lay welcomes jewelry expert Sheila Smithie for an examination of several visionary French women who exercised their extraordinary creative powers in the 1920s and 1930s to transform jewelry design. A “virtual hands-on” session offers the next best thing to examining the jewels under a loupe in person. 12 p.m. ET $20-$25

Tuesday, May 11

Write Into Art: Creative Writing Inspired by Visual Art: Discover how visual art can inspire creative writing that offers a powerful way to experience art. Join Mary Hall Surface of the National Gallery of Art’s popular Writing Salon for a series of workshops that explore essential elements of writing and styles through close looking, word-sketching, and imaginative response to prompts. This session focuses on Japanese-American artist Kenjiro Nomura’s The Farm. 10 a.m. ET $40-$45

Wednesday, May 12

Moviegoing in America: Nickelodeons to Movie Palaces to IMAX to Streaming: A fascinating look at the history of movie theaters examines how the experience of moviegoing has changed over the decades—and whether movie theaters will even survive in the age of streaming services. 12 p.m. ET $20-$25

Thursday, May 13

Spaces of Remembrance: Revisiting the Memorials of Washington, D.C.: Kathleen Bashian, a certified master guide in Washington and a popular Smithsonian study leader, leads a virtual memorial pilgrimage through the city, examining the aesthetics of memorials as works of art and architecture, their origins, and their impact on contemporary visitors. 12 p.m. ET $25-$30

Friday, May 14

The Waltz: Music, Sex, Society, and Politics in Three-Quarter Time: Blossoming in Vienna and spreading like a mania through Europe, the waltz proclaimed a new freedom of sexual expression and individual liberties in the early 19th century. Classical music and opera expert Saul Lilienstein traces the development of a musical form and a dance that changed history. 10 a.m. ET $80-$90

Saturday, May 15

iPhone Photography II: Take your iPhone camera skills to another level in a two-day workshop that focuses on the ProCamera app and editing techniques; organizing, printing, and posting your photos; and a critique session on images. 10 a.m. ET $75-$95

Sunday, May 16

Great Horned Owls: Fleet and Mysterious: The Great Horned Owl is found in every state except Hawaii and in almost every habitat. In a series of talks rich in audio clips, photos, and video, naturalist Mark H.X. Glenshaw presents another in-depth study of this magnificent creature. This session focuses on the owl's hunting and feeding habits. 1:30 p.m. ET $20-$25

Tuesday, May 18

Greek Heroes and Art: Achilles: Art historian Renee Gondek focuses on visual depictions of the iconic hero of the Trojan War, Achilles, to examine how the most famous of epic narratives from Classical mythology inspired centuries of creators and cultures. Smithsonian World Art History Certificate enrollees receive 1/2 credit. 12 p.m. ET $20-$25


The Smithsonian National Gem Collection Unearthed: The National Museum of Natural History’s magnificent gems represent a glittering intersection of natural science, human history, culture, romance, artistic skill, and creativity—set against the allure of immense value and awesome beauty. Jeffrey Post, curator of the U.S. National Gem and Mineral Collection, reveals the scandals, mysteries, and human stories behind some of the world’s most famous gems. 6:45 p.m. ET $20-$25

Endangered UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Palmyra: There are 1,121 UNESCO World Heritage sites throughout the world. Guided by Justin M. Jacobs, associate professor of history at American University, this series focuses on four of these sites that have suffered grievous damage in recent decades, from Palmyra to the Great Barrier Reef. The first session focuses on Palmyra. 6:45 p.m. ET $25

Tamika D. Mallory: State of Emergency: Drawing on themes from her new book State of Emergency: How We Win in the Country We Built (Atria/Black Privilege Publishing), activist and social justice leader Tamika D. Mallory is joined in a roundtable discussion about racial inequality by actor and comedian Tiffany Haddish, model and activist Emily Ratajkowski, and April Ryan, White House Correspondent, CNN Political Analyst, and D.C. Bureau Chief for TheGrio, who serves as moderator. 6:45 p.m. ET $50

Wednesday, May 19

Dante Without Footnotes: What keeps Dante’s Divine Comedy still meaningful today, even though it was written seven centuries ago? Explore Dante’s epic poem in all its cultural and historical richness—without the need of footnotes—and discover the ways his timeless wisdom and insights can enhance our everyday lives. 6:30 p.m. ET $20-$25

CULINASIA: Southeast Asia Got Something to Say: Opening a Southeast Asian restaurant, bar, or food business was always an uphill battle. How can they keep their doors open during a global pandemic with the doubly stacked odds of anti-Asian racism at an all-time high? In a free program, learn how a panel of Southeast Asian chefs and restaurateurs from across the country are meeting the moment. 6:30 p.m. ET Free, registration is required.

Jake Tapper: The Devil May Dance: CNN anchor Jake Tapper called on his inside knowledge of Washington’s workings to write his newest period political thriller The Devil May Dance, in which Congressman Charlie Marder and his wife Margaret find themselves launched into the dark side of 1960s Hollywood on a dangerous assignment from Attorney General Robert Kennedy. Join him as he discusses mixing politicos and the Rat Pack in his book, as well as his work covering the non-fictional Washington. 6:45 p.m. ET $25-$30

Thursday, May 20

Midnight in Cairo: The Divas of Egypt's Roaring '20s: During the 1920s and 1930s, Cairo’s lively music, theater, film and cabaret scene was dominated by women who were entrepreneurs and owners as well as celebrities. Discover the rich histories of the independent figures who offered a new vision for women in Egypt and throughout the Middle East. 6:45 p.m. ET $20-$25

Friday, May 21

The Flavors of Maryland: Maryland’s long history, diverse inhabitants, varied landscapes and of course, the Chesapeake Bay have contributed to a delicious cornucopia of foods and culinary traditions. Explore the state’s signature flavors, both familiar and unique, from the Appalachians of western Maryland to the Chesapeake’s Eastern Shore. 10 a.m. ET $25-$30


Saturday, May 22

The Civil War in Perspective: Our Evolving Story: No event has altered the United States more profoundly than the American Civil War. Yet the question remains: Why have Americans returned to the war to find answers in their present? Historian Stephen D. Engle traces 150 years of an ever-changing narrative of the Civil War and why we still struggle to reach an acceptable version of its legacy. 9:30 a.m. ET $80-$90

Shakespeare: The Music Behind the Movies: “The play’s the thing” declared Hamlet, but nowadays he could easily have substituted “the film.” Speaker and concert pianist Rachel Franklin combines commentary and piano demonstrations to explore how master composers such as William Walton, Nino Rota, Patrick Doyle and others illuminate Shakespeare’s texts while helping us relate emotionally to his astonishing stories on the screen. 10:30 a.m. ET $50-$60

Sunday, May 23

The Ancient Art of Henna Tattoos: Henna tattoos reflect an ancient and beautiful practice of body art. Explore the form’s history as you learn to apply simple traditional Indian henna designs. 1 p.m. ET $45-$55

Tuesday, May 25

England's Historic Royal Palaces: A Step Inside: Join Historic Royal Palaces guide Siobhan Clarke for a virtual look inside four great historic royal palaces. Using maps, paintings, photographs and music, Clarke introduces the splendid corridors of royal power and pleasure. 12 p.m. ET $80-$90


Endangered UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Bamiyan Buddhas: There are 1,121 UNESCO World Heritage sites throughout the world. Guided by Justin M. Jacobs, associate professor of history at American University, this series focuses on four of these sites that have suffered grievous damage in recent decades, from Palmyra to the Great Barrier Reef. The session focuses on the Bamiyan Buddhas. 6:45 p.m. ET $25

Wednesday, May 26

The Philadelphia Flower Show: Still Blooming: The 2021 edition of the popular Philadelphia Flower Show is the first to be held outdoors in Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park. Join Nicole Juday Rhoads, director of engagement at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, for a presentation on the Philadelphia Flower Show’s history and a preview of the new show themed "Habitat: Nature's Masterpiece.” 10 a.m. ET $25-$30

Thursday, May 27

The Corning Museum of Glass: Examine the development of the Corning Museum of Glass, now the largest museum in the world devoted to the subject, in a virtual look at its collections, library, Innovation Center and other aspects of this world-class resource. 12 p.m. ET $25-$30

Friday, May 28

Topkapi Palace: The Sultan’s Opulent Seat of Power: As ruler of the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century, Sultan Mehmed II viewed himself as a new Roman emperor. To reflect that power and prestige he required an appropriate symbol: the magnificent Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. Join Serif Yenen, a tour guide and guidebook author, for an exploration of the dazzling palace—including its fabled hidden sections—and stories about the lifestyles of the sultans who inhabited it. Smithsonian World Art History Certificate enrollees receive 1/2 credit. 12 p.m. ET $20-$25

To view Smithsonian Associates digital program guide, visit