Baseball in the Movies and More Programs to Kick off Summer

Expand your mind and entertain your senses with Smithsonian Associates programs in June

A baseball player hits a ball while at bat in a crowded stadium
On June 12 film critic Noah Gittell sheds light on classics and overlooked gems while exploring how baseball cinema creates a stage upon which the American Dream is born, performed and repeatedly redefined. Smithsonian Associates

Smithsonian Associates offers innovative, engaging learning experiences for people of all ages. Hundreds of online and in-person lectures, seminars, performances, hands-on studio arts classes, one-of-a-kind study tours and children’s programs are offered annually. To view the Smithsonian Associates digital program guide, visit


Saturday, June 1

Digital Photography: Beyond the Basics: Take your digital photography up a notch by honing your use of exposure and composition to frame the information in the camera lens and create your most expressive and meaningful photographs. This two-session online workshop will be held on Zoom from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET. The second session is June 8. $205-$230

In an online workshop on June 1 discover the pros and cons of moving your orchids outside in the hotter months. Smithsonian Associates

Orchids in the Summer: Just in time for summer, learn how to safely move and care for your orchids outside in the hotter months. This weekend workshop will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET on Zoom. $35-$50

Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra Presents “Sarah Vaughan: The Divine One”: To close out the concert season, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra features singer Sharón Clark to celebrate the centennial year of NEA Jazz Master Sarah Vaughan. Songs may include “After You've Gone,” “It Don't Mean a Thing (If it Ain't Got That Swing)” and “The Lady's in Love with You.” This program will be held in person at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History at 8 p.m. ET. $25-$30


Tuesday, June 4

Literary Theory for Robots: How Computers Learned to Write: Looking at the shared pasts of literature and computer science, former Microsoft engineer and professor of comparative literature Dennis Yi Tenen provides a context for recent developments in artificial intelligence. Rather than a magical genie capable of self-directed thought or action, Yi Tenen draws on labor history, technology and philosophy to examine why he views AI as a reflection of the long-standing cooperation between authors and engineers. This program will be presented on Zoom at 6:45 p.m. ET. $20-$25


Monday, June 10

Lunchtime with a Curator: Decorative Arts Design Series: Join curator Elizabeth Lay Little, a regular lecturer on the topics of fashion, textiles and American furniture, and her guests for an image-rich lunchtime series focusing on decorative arts and design topics. The first session in the June series is “My Kids Hate Antiques: Developing the Next Generation of Collectors and Connoisseurs.” The series will continue on June 17 and June 24 with new topics presented live on Zoom at 12 p.m. ET. $20-$25

Nature of the Book: Throughout history, the creation of books involved a wide variety of materials from the natural world, including unusual ones such as wasps and seaweed. The “Nature of the Book” exhibition at the National Museum of Natural History, assembled by the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives, shows what the use of these materials can tell us about books, touching on questions of purpose, process, global trade, and economy. Curators Katie Wagner and Vanessa Haight Smith discuss their process and research. This program will be presented on Zoom at 6:30 p.m. ET. $20-$25

The Architects of "Toxic Politics”: With the 2024 presidential race in full swing, many Americans are troubled by the caustic nature of today's campaigns. The reality is vitriol has been at play from the beginning of the Republic. Drawing on his career as a journalist specializing in presidential coverage, veteran White House correspondent and author Ken Walsh explores the history of poison politics in America and highlights the figures that helped shape the modern landscape. This program will be presented on Zoom at 6:45 p.m. ET. $20-$25

The Heart and the Chip: The Future of Robots: A record 3.1 million robots are now working in factories, doing everything from assembling computers to packing goods and monitoring air quality and performance. A far greater number of smart machines impact our lives in countless other ways—and we’re on the cusp of even more exciting opportunities. Join pioneering roboticist and computer scientist Daniela Rus as she offers a reframed perspective on the way we think about intelligent machines and weighs the moral and ethical consequences of their role in society. This program will be presented on Zoom at 7 p.m. ET. $25-$30


Tuesday, June 11

Broadway's Beginnings: Pull back the curtain on show-biz history to explore Broadway's early years: an era of roof-garden theaters, tap shoes, theatrical con artists, and a ghost or two. Actor Tim Dolan, owner of Broadway Up Close tours in New York City, leads a virtual stroll down the Great White Way as he shares rare photos and stories of the theater district’s past and shines a spotlight on some of its most intriguing secrets— including the spirits that may still be lurking in the backstage shadows. This program will be presented on Zoom at 7 p.m. ET. $25-$30


Wednesday, June 12

Interpreting Earth's Patterns: The human mind is very good at discerning patterns in nature: shapes, symmetries, repetitions. But why do we see hexagons in beehives, mud puddles, ice crystals, and lava flows, but not sand dunes, rose bushes, or comets? Geologist Callan Bentley explores formations from branches and braids to waves and wiggles and explains the science behind each. By decoding some of nature’s formations—from prosaic to sublime— we can better understand our ability for pattern recognition.

Baseball in the Movies: Baseball has always been a symbol as much as a sport, offering a sunny rendering of the American Dream—both the hard work that underpins it and the rewards it promises. Film, which mythologizes all it touches, is the ideal medium to glorify this aspirational idea. Film critic Noah Gittell sheds light on classics and overlooked gems while exploring how baseball cinema creates a stage upon which the American Dream is born, performed, and repeatedly redefined. This program will be presented on Zoom at 6:45 p.m. ET. $20-$25


Thursday, June 13

The Axis Powers and the Buildup to World War II: As World War II approached, the Axis powers made a colossal losing bet: underestimating the United States as an enemy. Military historian Harry Yeide studied original documents from Axis countries to understand how and why they made this critical mistake and identifies the points in time when their leaders realized America and its American-supplied allies were on the path to victory. This program will be presented on Zoom at 6:30 p.m. ET. $20-$25


Friday, June 14

Going Green in DC: The Washington, D.C., area is becoming a greener urban environment. Bill Keene, a lecturer in urban studies and architecture, spotlights innovative approaches to the environment and sustainability that have taken root—sometimes literally—in many types of buildings around town. This all-day tour will depart the Mayflower Hotel at 1127 Connecticut Ave N.W., Washington D.C. p.m. at 8:45 a.m. ET. $130-$185


Saturday, June 15

The Normal Women of England: 900 Years of Making History: What did women do to shape England’s culture and traditions in nine centuries of turmoil, plague, famine, religious reform, and the rise of empire and industry? Author Philippa Gregory shares stores of the female soldiers, highwaywomen, pirates, miners, ship owners, runaway enslaved women, “female husbands,” social campaigners, and rebels who shaped a nation—as well as the prejudice they faced and how they built a society as diverse and varied as the women themselves. This program will be presented on Zoom at 6:30 p.m. ET. $25-$30


Monday, June 17

“Beauty and the Beast”: A Tale as Old as Time: Few stories capture the imagination like “Beauty and the Beast,” the romantic tale of a beautiful girl who sees past appearances to fall in love with a hideous monster. Folklorists Sara Cleto and Brittany Warman discuss what the tale looks like around the world and what kinds of reactionary, rebellious, and revolutionary points it has allowed tellers to make. They also explain why so many people count it as their favorite fairy tale. This program will be presented on Zoom at 6:45 p.m. ET. $20-$25


Tuesday, June 18

Abuzz About Bees: Discover how small observations led to big breakthroughs on deciphering honey bee behavior. Cornell University biology professor Thomas D. Seeley discusses how he and his colleagues solved long-standing mysteries of honey bee nature. He tells how worker bees function as scouts to choose a home site for their colony, furnish their home with beeswax combs, and stock it with brood and food while keeping tens of thousands of colony inhabitants warm and defended from intruders. This program will be presented on Zoom at 6:45 p.m. ET. $20-$25

In an online program on June 18, Bill Keene, a lecturer on architecture and urban studies, surveys California's bold postwar landscape of housing design, materials and construction. Stahl House (Case Study House No. 22) in the Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles (Photo: mbtrama / CC BY 2.0 DEED)

California: A Paradise of Mid-Century Architecture: Since the late 1940s, California has been an epicenter for some of the most striking and innovative modern domestic architecture in the world. Whether built for the families of industrial workers and returning GIs or Hollywood stars seeking a Modernist getaway in Palm Springs, they represent some of the most iconic and significant examples of Mid-Century Modern houses. Bill Keene, a lecturer on architecture and urban studies, surveys the state’s bold postwar landscape of housing design, materials, and construction. Participants enrolled in the Smithsonian World History Certificate program will earn 1/2 credit. This program will be presented on Zoom at 7:30 p.m. ET. $25-$30

Smithsonian Associates will present a celebration of HAIR: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical on June 20 in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.  National Museum of American History

Thursday, June 20

HAIR: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical: More than 50 years after its debut in April 1968 at Broadway’s Biltmore Theatre in New York City, HAIR continues to celebrate the hippie counterculture of the 1960s. Discussing its ongoing relevance is a panel including theater critic Peter Marks, original Broadway cast members Shelley Plimpton and Dale Soules, and longtime HAIR publicist Merle Frimark, moderated by arts journalist Patrick Pacheco. Following the panel discussion, attendees have the rare opportunity to see objects from the National Museum of American History’s HAIR collection that are not on public display and hear from curators Ryan Lintelman and Krystal Klingenberg about collecting the objects. The program also includes a special performance by members of the cast of Signature Theatre’s current production of HAIR. This program will take place at Warner Bros. Theater at the National Museum of American History and simulcast on Zoom at 12 p.m. ET. Free, registration required.

The Last Island: In late 2018, a young American missionary who kayaked onto a remote beach in the Andaman archipelago of the Indian Ocean and was killed by Indigenous islanders wielding bows and arrows. News of that fatal encounter made the world aware that such a place existed in our time: an island whose hunter-gatherer inhabitants still live in near-total isolation. Author and historian Adam Goodheart tells the stories of others drawn to the island through the centuries, discusses other Andaman tribes’ encounters with the outside world, and highlights how the modern age is drawing closer to their shores. This program will be presented on Zoom at 7:30 p.m. ET. $25-$30


Monday, June 24

Painting with Monet: At pivotal moments in his career, Claude Monet would go out with a fellow artist, plant his easel beside his friend’s, and paint the same scene. Examining paintings made side by side, Harmon Siegel, a junior fellow at Harvard University, shows how Monet explored challenging questions in concrete, practical ways while painting alongside his teachers, Eugène Boudin and Johan Barthold Jongkind; his friends Frédéric Bazille and Renoir; and his hero, Édouard Manet. Participants enrolled in the Smithsonian World History Certificate program will earn 1/2 credit. This program will be presented on Zoom at 7 p.m. ET. $25-$30


To view the Smithsonian Associates digital program guide, visit