Saving Yellowstone, Frans de Waal on Gender, Icelandic Folklore and More Programs in April

Smithsonian Associates Streaming offers a slate of engaging and entertaining programs this month

Image shows a landscape of tall grass with a herd of bison roaming
On April 5 author Megan Kate Nelson traces Yellowstone’s journey from unexplored landscape to national icon. Photo by stellalevi / iStock

Friday, April 1

Assisi: Where the Past and Present Live: The Umbrian hill town of Assisi potently captures the spirit of the Middle Ages in a way few places can. Art historian Elaine Ruffolo explores how this most extraordinary town was shaped by glorious art, architecture and the legacy of Saint Francis. Enrolled participants in the Smithsonian World Art History Certificate earn 1/2 credit. 12 p.m. ET $20-$25

The Duke and the Count: In celebration of Jazz Appreciation Month, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra juxtaposes the music of the Count Basie Orchestra and the Duke Ellington Orchestra in an informative lecture illustrated by virtual concert excerpts. 7 p.m. ET $20-$25

Monday, April 4

The Capodimonte Museum: An Art Palace on the Bay of Naples: Virtually wander the colorful galleries of the Capodimonte, housed in a palace built in 1734 that overlooks the Bay of Naples. Explore the museum’s masterpieces guided by Rome-based art historian Laura R. Weinstein, including the works of Renaissance and Baroque masters such as Botticelli, Raphael, Michelangelo, Parmigianino and Titian. Enrolled participants in the Smithsonian World Art History Certificate earn 1/2 credit. 12 p.m. ET $20-$25

Tuesday, April 5

“And That's the Way It Is”: 70 Years of TV News: From the beginnings of nightly network reports to the launch of CNN to 24/7 cable channels, television news has undergone remarkable transformations in the last seven decades. Media expert Brian Rose looks at these sweeping changes and examines the impact—both good and bad—of television journalism today. 12 p.m. ET $20-$25

Exploring the Arts of Japan: Throughout the long history of Japan, Japanese visual arts adopted and adapted style elements of foreign cultures—Chinese, Korean, European—refining techniques, materials, and viewing practices to suit their own societal needs, ideas, and cultural practices. Art historian Yui Suzuki examines timeless works by skilled Japanese artisans in their historical, religious, and political contexts in a four-session course. Enrolled participants in the Smithsonian World Art History Certificate earn 1 credit. 6:30 p.m. ET $80-$90

Saving Yellowstone: The Creation of a National Icon: Author Megan Kate Nelson traces Yellowstone’s journey from unexplored landscape to national icon. Far more than a story of adventure and exploration, it exposes the conflicting interests in this wilderness of individuals ranging from Sitting Bull, to railroad magnate Jay Cooke, and how the government tested the reach of its power across an expanding and divided nation. 7 p.m. ET $20-$25

Naturalist Liana Vitali talks about the fascinating lives of pollinators on April 6. Smithsonian Associates

Wednesday, April 6

Wild Wings: Fascinating Pollinators and Their Stories: From bees to bats and everything in between, learn from naturalist Liana Vitali about the fascinating lives of pollinators—and how our lives depend to a great extent on the work they do. 6:45 p.m. ET $20-$25

Thursday, April 7

Saving Big Forests To Save the Planet: There are five megaforests left on Earth. Each is vital to preserving global biodiversity, thousands of cultures, and a stable climate. Hear practical solutions on how to ensure these ancient forests continue to exist so our planet can. 6:45 p.m. ET $20-$25

Saturday, April 9

Visual Literacy: How to Look at Art: The ability to derive meaning from what we see is an essential skill in a culture saturated with images. Art historian Nancy G. Heller focuses on how art communicates, how to analyze and interpret it, and how we can see it as a cultural product that reveals something about the society that produced it. Enrolled participants in the Smithsonian World Art History Certificate earn 1 credit. 9:30 a.m. ET $80-$90

Monday, April 11

The Geology of Africa: East Africa and the Great Rift Valley: Join geologist Kirt Kempter for a fascinating survey of geologic history of the continent of Africa before looking more closely at the Great Rift Valley, which traverses Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania. 7 p.m. ET $25-$30 

Tuesday, April 12

The Great American Composers: Music Made in the USA: Classical and American music expert Saul Lilienstein leads this joyful six-session celebration of 20th-century American composers from Scott Joplin and Jelly Roll Morton to Charles Ives and John Adams. 12 p.m. ET $95-105

Future of the Constitution: The U.S. Constitution is suddenly relevant again with Americans drawn into discussions of its different clauses, the Electoral College, various powers and the role of the judiciary. Yet most Americans have not recently—or ever—read the Constitution. Historian Clay Jenkinson considers key questions about this document’s history, interpretations, problems and principles. 6:30 p.m. ET $30-$35

Join world-renowned primatologist Frans de Waal on April 13 for fascinating discussion of the link between gender and biological sex and humans’ traditional gender roles. Photo by dangdumrong / iStock

Wednesday, April 13

Frans de Waal on Gender: Presented in partnership with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, world-renowned primatologist Frans de Waal draws on decades of observation and studies of both human and animal behavior in a fascinating discussion of the link between gender and biological sex and humans’ traditional gender roles. 6:45 p.m. ET $20-$25 

Thursday, April 14

Death by Shakespeare: Shakespeare knew that gory, grisly and imaginatively unusual deaths were what his fans at the Globe wanted to see. Prepare for an evening devoted to the onstage demises that have moved, surprised and shocked audiences for four centuries with historian and Tudor scholar Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger. 6:30 p.m. ET $30-$35

Monday, April 18

Mindfulness Meditation: Meditation teacher Hugh Byrne explains how mindfulness works and how practicing it can promote a deeper and richer awareness of our inner self, among other benefits. 7 p.m. ET $25-$30

Lecturer Christine Rai explores the rich folklore traditions of Iceland on April 19. Photo by Bonnie Le / iStock

Tuesday, April 19

Icelandic Folklore: For centuries, Iceland’s history, climate and geography have shaped its rich folklore traditions. Lecturer Christine Rai explores tales of magic, monsters, and ghosts and their unique connection to the country’s landscapes. 12 p.m. ET $25-$30

Wednesday, April 20

Introduction to Photography: Whether you want to work in digital or film, this eight-session daytime course offers a solid foundation for new photographers ready to learn the basics. Students must have a digital camera with manual controls. 10:30 a.m. ET $225-$255

Thursday, April 21

Finding Our Place in the Cosmos with Mario Livio: When our ancient ancestors looked up and around, no doubt they asked themselves: What exactly is our place in this vast universe? Are we central to it? Do we matter? In this fascinating program, renowned astrophysicist and author Mario Livio discusses how modern science and cutting-edge discoveries are helping to provide answers to these provocative questions. 6:30 p.m. ET $30-$35

Travel Along Central Asia’s Silk Road: History, Culture, People: The Silk Road conjures images of romantic oases, dusty caravans, and mysterious far-away places. Educator and award-winning tour guide Zulya Rajabova presents a colorful introduction to the Great Silk Road and five Central Asia countries (aka “Stans”) that are considered the brightest jewels in the strand. 6:45 p.m. ET $20-$25

Friday, April 22

California's Central Coast: Santa Lucia Highlands to Paso Robles: Expand your knowledge of the world of wine as you sip along with sommelier Erik Segelbaum in an exploration of undiscovered gems of Central Coast viticulture in California. Part of a three-session spring series, this immersive program includes a curated personal tasting kit to enhance the experience available for pick up from a local Washington, D.C. wine bar. 6 p.m. ET $65-$75

Wednesday, April 27

Art Crime: Frauds, Forgeries, and Fakes: From a fake Saudi sheikh with a fake Rembrandt to a fraud case that rocked “Antiques Road Show,” former FBI agent art crime expert Robert Wittman uncovers inside stories of the multi-billion-dollar worldwide business of art crime, where beautiful objects can hold suspicious histories. 6:45 p.m. ET $20-$25

To view Smithsonian Associates’ digital program guide, visit