A Celebration of Love in the Animal Kingdom and More Streaming Programs in February

The birds and the bees have their fun, but this Valentine’s Day celebrate all types of love found in the animal kingdom with the National Museum of Natural History

A Cheetah and a Cub play together
On Friday, Feb. 11, a SMITHSONIAN at 8 virtual event presented in collaboration with the National Museum of Natural History will celebrate all types of love in the animal kingdom with expert talks and games.
  Grahm S. Jones / Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Wednesday, February 2

Why Shakespeare Matters Today: Rethinking Hamlet, Othello, and King Lear: Why are William Shakespeare’s plays still considered essential reading? How can lessons from his Elizabethan theatrical universe help us to better understand social and political conflicts we confront today? Explore three of the Bard’s great tragedies to discover why Shakespeare remains vital and relevant with Joseph Luzzi, professor of comparative literature at Bard College. 6:30 p.m. ET $20-$25

Seven Games and Why We Love Them: Checkers, backgammon, Go and chess. Poker, Scrabble and bridge. These seven games, ancient and modern, fascinate millions of people worldwide. Join journalist and author Oliver Roeder as he charts their origins and historical importance, the delightful arcana of their rules and the ways their design makes them pleasurable. 6:45 p.m. ET $20-$25


Thursday, February 3

Long May She Reign: Britain’s Ruling Queens: For centuries, the English monarchy was male, but several notable women shattered that royal glass ceiling. Tudor scholar Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger leads an assumption-challenging survey of female reigns, from the first crowned queen of England to the record-breaking longevity of Elizabeth II, examining how each redefined the role of the ruler and nature of the monarchy. Noon ET $85-$95


Friday, February 4

The Book of Hours: The Art of Medieval Manuscript Illumination: From the late Middle Ages to the early Renaissance, the Book of Hours, filled with groups of prayers designed for use by lay people, was more in demand than the Bible itself. Roger S. Wieck, Melvin R. Seiden curator and department head of Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts at the Morgan Library and Museum, explores the textual and pictorial riches to be found within the pages of these fascinating books. Enrolled participants in the Smithsonian World Art History Certificate earn 1/2 credit. Noon ET $20-$25


Monday, February 7

Freedom Writers: Black Leaders on the Idea of America: Though the guarantee of equality, liberty and justice for all is enshrined in the Constitution, Black Americans have long confronted the gap between that promise and the realities of their lives. Join author Farah Jasmine Griffin as she examines how thinkers and leaders such as Frederick Douglass, Malcolm X and Barack Obama vividly reflect in their works how these Americans have grappled with the founding ideals of the United States. 6:45 p.m. ET $20-$25


Tuesday, February 8

Cracking Art Crimes at the FBI: An Art Detective's Colorful Exploits: Join one of the most famous art detectives in the world to hear tales from a long FBI career solving art crimes. Drawing on the headline-making cases he worked on, Robert Wittman explores notorious art heists and daring recovery operations. 6:45 p.m. ET $20-$25


Wednesday, February 9

Pump: A Natural History of the Heart: Vertebrate zoologist and author Bill Schutt traces the evolution of hearts and circulatory systems in the animal kingdom, as well as our understanding of the anatomy, physiology and symbolic significance of human hearts throughout history. 6:45 p.m. ET $20-$25

Say Their Names: How Black Lives Came to Matter in America: Nick Charles, NPR’s new chief culture editor, leads a panel discussion that examines how inequality has been propagated throughout history, the many attempts to counteract these inequalities and necessary next steps to move forward. 6:45 p.m. ET $20-$25

A Whirlwind History of the English Language: Why and how do living languages change? The answer, in a word, is fascinating. Linguist and English language historian Anne Curzan leads a lively tour across the language’s shifting landscape, from Beowulf to blogging. 6:30 p.m. ET $30-$35


Thursday, February 10

Genomic Politics: Scientific Breakthroughs, Polarizing Controversies: The emergence of genomic science in the last quarter century has revolutionized medicine, the justice system and our understanding of who we are. Harvard University professor Jennifer Hochschild examines its politically charged and hotly contested issues. 6:45 p.m. ET $20-$25


Friday, February 11

Friends, Family, Lovers: A Valentine’s Day Celebration of Love: The birds and the bees have their fun, but this Valentine’s Day celebrate all types of love found in the animal kingdom with Smithsonian Associates and the National Museum of Natural History. Kick back, play virtual "parlor games" and in a series of lightning talks, hear from Smithsonian experts on relationships that expand our ideas of what it is to love and be loved: friends like cheetahs and golden retrievers, family like eusocial naked mole rats, and lovers like polyamorous woodpeckers. You’ll also receive exclusive Valentine’s Day cards you can print and share. 8 p.m. ET $15


Saturday, February 12

Oaxaca: Crossroads of a Continent: The state of Oaxaca in Mexico, and its eponymous Spanish colonial capital city, have been important cultural crossroads from pre-Columbian times to the present day. Learn about its rich cultural history, from the domestication of maize corn more than 10,000 years ago to Oaxaca’s emergence as a contemporary international cultural center. 9:30 a.m. ET $30-$35


Sunday, February 13

Botanical Gardens World Tour: Betty Ford Alpine Gardens and Western Australia Botanic Garden: Indulge in a colorful midwinter escape as horticultural experts lead a series of virtual visits that highlight the beauty of notable botanical gardens in settings as far-flung as Shanghai, the Hudson River Valley and Australia. In vibrant visuals they explore how each garden has taken a unique approach to design and interpretation as they all celebrate plant collections, conservation, education and the distinctive environments and landscapes in which they bloom. 4 p.m. ET $25-$30


Monday, February 14

Agatha Christie: The Queen of Crime: Nearly 50 years have passed since the publication of her final book, but Dame Agatha Christie remains the best-selling novelist of all time. Author Daniel Stashower explores Agatha Christie’s life and career while actors Scott Sedar and Bari Bern give voice to her most beloved characters. It would be a crime to miss it. 6:30 p.m. ET $20-$25


Tuesday, February 15

Ray Charles: “The Genius”: His unique voice and passionate style made Ray Charles one of the most beloved and influential musicians of our time. John Edward Hasse, curator emeritus of American music at the Museum of American History, celebrates the music, the man and his place in our country's cultural history. 6:30 p.m. ET $30-$35


Wednesday, February 16

How To Be Perfect with Michael Schur and Todd May of “The Good Place”: Most of us think of ourselves as good, but it’s not always easy to determine what’s good or bad—especially in a world filled with complicated choices and bad advice. Michael Schur, creator of “The Good Place,” joins Todd May, the show’s philosophical adviser to offer plenty of funny and practical wisdom on tough issues we face every day and thought-provoking guidance on living an ethical life based on 2,500 years of deep thinking from around the world. 6:45 p.m. ET $20-$25


Thursday, February 17

Politics and Sports: An All-American Matchup: The debate in recent years about the politicization of sports may seem like a new topic, but in fact, these two arenas of American life have been connected for a long time. Drawing on fascinating historical anecdotes, historian Kenneth Cohen explores that link and offers a new perspective on the great game of American political hardball. 6:45 p.m. ET $20-$25


Saturday, February 19

Orchids For Beginners: Join an orchid care expert for a fun, informative afternoon about America’s favorite household plant. This class delves into the origins of our love for orchids, explains how they grow in their native environments and provides beginner care instructions to keep your orchids blooming in your home. 2 p.m. ET $30-$40


Tuesday, February 22

A Nation in the Balance: Lincoln and the 1864 Presidential Election: No presidential election in American history carried stakes as high as the contest in November 1864. Historian Christopher Hamner examines the months leading up to the critical contest, held while the Civil War, in its third year, had already left hundreds of thousands of dead Americans strewn across battlefields from Mississippi to Virginia. 6:30 p.m. ET $20-$25

Bakers Against Racism: The Power of Community Activism through Food: Drawing from the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum’s new exhibition, Food for the People: Eating and Activism in Greater Washington, a free spring series of virtual cooking demonstrations and conversations features women chefs in the greater Washington, D.C., area. The programs highlight their work to achieve food justice and community empowerment. The February program features chef Paola Velez who talks about recipes and her organizing efforts as co-founder of Bakers Against Racism. 6:45 p.m. ET Free


Wednesday, February 23

Comets, Asteroids, and the Birth of the Solar System: Geologist and cosmochemist Natalie Starkey reveals how exploring these enigmatic celestial objects will help scientists understand a crucial time in our history: The origins of the solar system and everything contained within it. Noon ET $20-$25

In a virtual concert on Thursday, Feb. 24, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra celebrates Joe Wilder’s unique talents during what would be his 100th year. Jaclyn Nash

Thursday, February 24

Travels With Darley: Discover The Liberty Trail: Some of the most significant American losses and victories of the Revolutionary War took place in South Carolina, where the state’s brand-new Liberty Trail invites travelers to uncover lesser-known sites and fascinating figures related to the period. Emmy Award–nominated PBS television host Darley Newman shares how to get the most out of your exploration of the Liberty Trail, as well as tips about nearby attractions and great local food, drink, lodging and hotspots along the way. 6:45 p.m. ET $15

Joe Wilder: The Pretty Sound: American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, composer and NEA Jazz Master Joseph Benjamin Wilder left a broad footprint that still resonates in the world of music today. In a virtual concert, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra celebrates Wilder’s unique talents during what would be his 100th year. 7 p.m. ET $20-$25


Monday, February 28

The Spanish Inquisition: Race, Faith, and Power: Historian Janna Bianchini explores the roots of the Spanish Inquisition: fears of heresy, the drive to crusade and the political strategems of Spain’s rulers, Ferdinand and Isabella. 6:30 p.m. ET $30-$35