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About Virtual Scholar Talks

Smithsonian Affiliations develops special online events offered exclusively to Smithsonian Affiliates and their communities. Virtual Scholar talks bring Smithsonian experts directly to Affiliates when people may not be able to physically visit their local organization.

Affiliate Partner Collaboration

Smithsonian Affiliations is looking for Affiliate partners to collaborate with us on the upcoming Virtual Scholar Talks. Affiliations will produce and host the program, oversee registration, manage all technical aspects, and provide a promotional toolkit. We also will provide a captioned recording of the program, along with a full registration list to each Affiliate collaborator after the program.

Affiliate partners agree to:

  • promote the program to their audiences, including posting event information and registration link on social media.
  • use the Smithsonian Affiliate logo and/or any other Smithsonian collaborator’s logo on any promotional material.
  • use any social media hashtag and/or social media toolkit in conjunction with program promotion.
  • attend the program.
  • participate in the chat discussion during the program.

If you are a Smithsonian Affiliate interested in collaborating on an online event or have a topic to suggest for Office Hours, please email or contact your National Outreach Manager.


Space: The Final Frontier

Whether in President John F. Kennedy’s “New Frontier” or Star Trek’s iconic opening monologue, the frontier metaphor has evoked strong reactions in ways that have been inspiring – and sometimes problematic. Join Dr. Margaret A. Weitekamp, chair of the Space History Department at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, as she explores the many connections between Westerns and spaceflight though some of her favorite objects: toys. What can we learn from a Buck Rogers XZ-31 Rocket Pistol from 1934? And how does that connect to a Buzz Lightyear that NASA flew in space aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery?

Inspired by the Arizona Historical Society’s Tucson exhibit, “Ready to Launch: Arizona’s Place in Space,” Weitekamp will use this virtual presentation as a chance to link the collections in Washington, D.C., to the ones on view at the Arizona History Museum in Tucson. This program was developed in partnership with staff from the Arizona Historical Society, a Smithsonian Affiliate.

Virtual Scholar Talk Library

See all videos in our  Virtual Scholar Talks playlist on our YouTube Channel. If you would like to request Closed Caption transcripts from any video, please email All Virtual Scholar Talks are Closed Captioned.

Youth Activism: Raise Your Voice

The involvement of youth in causes like climate justice, racial and gender equality, LGBTQ rights, and economic change continues to rise across the world. But this is not a new phenomenon. Youth have been involved in activism throughout history. From youth activism during the Civil Rights Movement to the role of activism in advocating for Indigenous Peoples and marginalized populations, speakers explore different ways youth activism has changed the world in the past and how it continues to make history today.

Women in Aerospace: Stories from the Smithsonian Collection

Dr. Margaret Weitekamp has researched and written on how a groundswell of support helped create a Lego set representing women’s contributions to aerospace. Join us for a discussion of how women have worked from the very beginning of aviation to innovate, and how museums have documented their stories.

Lena Richard and Julia Child: Two Women Who Changed Culinary History

Through their cookbooks, teaching, and television programs, these extraordinary women inspired generations of people to take cooking seriously. They challenged perceptions and stereotypes of women in their respective eras and made lasting contributions to culinary history. Their stories, reflective of their very different backgrounds, reveal insights about women, race, food, and culture in 20th-century America.

African American Women’s Activism in Historical Perspective

Highlighting objects related to African American women’s history in the Smithsonian collections, this event focuses on African American women’s activism and contributions in historical perspective. Speakers explore an interesting aspect of African American women’s activism through an extended discussion of one or two objects.

A Legacy of Healing, Rebirth, and Leadership

In collaboration with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and two Affiliates—the Japanese American National Museum and the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience—scholars discuss examples of activism and finding joy after the destruction of trauma, resilience in response to oppression and ways this has been observed throughout history in Asian American communities.

The Legacy of the Green Book

Smithsonian Affiliations, the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, and author, photographer, and cultural documentarian Candacy Taylor explore the legacy of The Green Book, its impact on communities, businesses, and families, and its relevance today.