Best Washington DC Lectures, Films and Classes

Find A Variety of Educational Programs in the Nation's Capital


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Many of Washington DC’s non-profit and educational institutions offer lectures, films and classes on a wide range of subjects. The nation’s capital is a great place to learn about everything from politics to history and to the arts and sciences. Here’s a guide to some of the best places to attend educational programs. Subscribe to their mailing lists and you will keep informed about upcoming events. 

The Smithsonian Associates - S. Dillon Ripley Center, 1100 Jefferson Drive, SW Washington DC. The organization is a division of the Smithsonian Institution and offers about 100 programs per month including lectures and seminars, films and performing arts, arts classes, tours and much more. Smithsonian Associates also runs the Discovery Theatre program for kids and Smithsonian Summer Camps. Tickets are required for all programs and there is a fee. You can become a member for $40 per year.

National Archives - 700 Pennsylvania Ave. NW Washington, DC. The National Archives offers free special events, workshops, films, book signings, and lectures. Programs focus on American history and artifacts that document important events and milestones of the nation. Check the calendar to see what programs are available.

Library of Congress - 101 Independence Ave. SE, Washington, DC. The nation's oldest federal cultural institution offers free lectures, films, concerts, panel discussions, gallery talks and symposiums. Programs cover a wide variety of subjects, mostly relating to American history and culture.

U.S. Capitol Historical Society - 200 Maryland Ave NE #400 Washington, DC (800) 887-9318. The U.S. Capitol Historical Society is chartered by Congress to educate the public on the history and heritage of the U.S. Capitol building, its institutions and the people who have served. Lectures, symposia, and tours are available.

Historical Society of Washington, DC - 801 K Street, NW Washington, DC (202) 249-3955. The organization offers public programs and workshops to commemorate, inspire, and inform individuals about the rich history of the nation’s capital.

Carnegie Institution for Science - 1530 P Street NW Washington, DC. As part of Carnegie’s outreach efforts, the institution hosts various science-related lectures, events, and seminars at its administration building in Washington, DC. Andrew Carnegie founded the Carnegie Institution of Washington in 1902 as an organization for scientific discovery with a focus on plant biology, developmental biology, Earth and planetary sciences, astronomy, and global ecology. Lectures are free and open to the public.

National Geographic Live - Grosvenor Auditorium at 1600 M Street, NW. Washington DC. National Geographic offers a series of dynamic lectures, live concerts and compelling films at its headquarters in Washington, DC. Tickets are required and may be purchased online or by phone at (202) 857-7700, or in person between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Washington Peace Center - 1525 Newton St NW Washington, DC (202) 234-2000. The anti-racist, grassroots, multi-issue organization is devoted to peace, justice, and nonviolent social change in the metropolitan Washington DC area. The Peace Center offers leadership training and educational programs.

The Writer’s Center - 4508 Walsh St. Bethesda, MD (301) 654-8664. The non-profit organization is an independent home for the literary arts in the Washington DC area. The Writer’s Center provides writing workshops for people of all backgrounds and ages and literary events featuring authors of local, national, and international renown.

National Gallery of Art - 4th and Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC (202) 737-4215. As one of the world's preeminent museums, The National Gallery of Art preserves, collects, and exhibits a variety of works of art, while serving as an educative institution. The Gallery offers a free concert series, lectures, tours, film screenings, and a wide range of programs to foster the understanding of works of art on a broad spectrum.

National Cathedral - Massachusetts and Wisconsin Avenues, NW Washington, DC (202) 537-6200. The Cathedral offers lectures, forum discussions, thematic courses, and guest presentations that reflect generous-spirited Christianity, yet are open and welcoming to people of all faiths and perspectives.

Smithsonian National Zoo - As a part of the Smithsonian, the National Zoo is an educational organization that provides hands-on programs to learn about animals and their habitats. The zoo offers zookeeper talks, classes for all ages, and professional training through courses, workshops, internships, and fellowships.