Insights Lecture Series


Cincinnati Museum Center's Insights Lecture Series features local and national experts speaking on a variety of subjects chosen for their relevance and their ability to spark insight and dialogue.

All lectures are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted, but pre-registration is requested.

2015 Lectures

Wednesday, March 4


The Timber Rattlesnake in Ohio

Tuesday, March 24


America's Queen: A Queen City Native

Sunday, April 19


The Curious Mister Catesby: A "Truly Ingenious" Naturalist Explores New Worlds

Thursday, April 23


Baseball Revolution: The 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings and the Birth of the Professional Game

Thursday, May 7


Invisible Baseball Players: Life of Baseball’s Negro League Ball Players – A Snapshot


Wednesday, March 4
The Timber Rattlesnake in Ohio

Lecturer: Doug Wynn, Herpetologist, The Ohio State University
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 4
Where: Reakirt Auditorium

The Timber Rattlesnake is Ohio's largest venomous snake. Reaching a record length of 74 inches, it dwarfs the much smaller Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake, whose record length is 39.5 inches. The Timber Rattlesnake's natural behaviors and reproductive strategies have made the species highly vulnerable to human activities. In Ohio, it has undergone a drastic reduction in its distribution, resulting in viable populations occurring in only about four locations. Please join us to learn more about this endangered species and how controlling habitat destruction might be the only practical solution to preventing the Ohio Timber Rattlesnake from extinction.

Click here to register for this lecture or call 513-287-7001.

Tuesday, March 24
America's Queen: A Queen City Native

Lecturer: John Oller, lawyer and author of American Queen: The Rise and Fall of Kate Chase Sprague Civil War "Belle of the North" and Gilded Age Woman of Scandal
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 24
Where: Reakirt Auditorium

In collaboration with

Join us for an illuminating lecture on the life of Kate Chase (1840–1899), the beautiful and charismatic daughter of Salmon P. Chase, Lincoln’s treasury secretary.

Kate Chase was born in Cincinnati and is buried here in Spring Grove Cemetery, alongside her famous father. The “Belle of Washington” during the Civil War, she was Mary Lincoln’s rival and worked tirelessly to advance her father’s political career, serving as his de facto campaign manager.  In the social event of the war, she married the dashing “boy governor” of Rhode Island, the millionaire textile magnet William Sprague.

She thereupon became “America’s Queen,” living a life of virtual royalty until it all came crashing down after an economic depression, a scandalous affair with a powerful senator and a sensational divorce. She lived out her final years in Washington, D.C. quietly in poverty while retaining the proud bearing and independent spirit that had marked her rise. As the Cincinnati Enquirer eulogized her on her death, “No Queen has ever reigned under the Stars and Stripes, but this remarkable woman came closer to being a Queen than any American woman has.”

John Oller’s lecture on his book, American Queen: The Rise and Fall of Kate Chase Sprague, Civil War "Belle of the North’"and Gilded Age Woman of Scandal, will elaborate on her turbulent life, with particular attention to her and her family’s many Cincinnati connections.

A book signing follows the lecture.

Click here to register for this lecture or call 513-287-7001.

Sunday, April 19
The Curious Mister Catesby: A "Truly Ingenious" Naturalist Explores New Worlds

When: 2 p.m. Sunday, April 19 with an exclusive brunch and exhibit tour beginning at noon. Click here for more information.
Where: Reakirt Auditorium


Dr. Charles Nelson
Renowned Catesby Researcher & Author
Reference Book of the Year Award Winner, UK

Leslie Overstreet
Curator of Natural-History Rare Books
Smithsonian Libraries’ Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History


David Elliott
Executive Director, Catesby Commemorative Trust &
Executive Producer of The Curious Mister Catesby documentary

Prof. W. Hardy Eshbaugh
Professor Emeritus of Botany, Miami University


Join world-renowned experts, Dr. Charles Nelson and Curator Leslie Overstreet, to learn about Englishman Mark Catesby.

In 1712, Catesby crossed the Atlantic to Virginia, thus beginning a venture that only ended 37 years later with the conclusion of his monumental Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahamas Islands. It was described by a knowledgeable contemporary as "The most magnificent work I know since the art of printing was discovered" and over half a century later by President Thomas Jefferson as "The only complete, reliable, illustrated natural history of America," and who used it in planning the Lewis & Clark Expedition.

In this program, you'll hear the about the writing and publication of The Natural History..., which remained in print for three quarters of a century. You'll also learn what has been discovered about Catesby, his work and his impact on his successors during the preparation of the most comprehensive study of him yet made.

The panel will be preceded by lectures from Dr. Charles Nelson and Curator Leslie Overstreet. Examples of Catesby’s superb artistry and writing will be on display. A book signing will follow.

Click here to register for this lecture or call 513-287-7001. Click here for more information on an exclusive brunch and tour of The Curious Mister Catesby exhibit beginning at noon.

Thank you to our partners for helping bring this program to Cincinnati Museum Center:

The Catesy Commemorative Trust
Lloyd Library and Museum
Cincinnati Nature Center
The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

Thursday, April 23
Baseball Revolution: The 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings and the Birth of the Professional Game

Lecturer: Greg Rhodes, Executive Director, Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum and Cincinnati Reds team historian
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, April 23, 2015
Where: Reakirt Auditorium

In collaboration with

The evolution of baseball and all professional sports took a huge leap in Cincinnati in 1869 when the Cincinnati Base Ball Club decided to support a professional team, signing all players to contracts and guaranteeing them a salary. A change in the rules in 1869 permitted clubs to employ professional players in for the first time, and the Cincinnati club was the only one in the country to take advantage of the opportunity. The Cincinnati team, the Red Stockings, played coast to coast (the first team to ever do so), defeated every opponent (57-0), broadened the popularity of the game and established the superiority of the professional system. The first professional league formed two years later and professional team sports have been a part of the American landscape since. 

Click here to register for this lecture or call 513-287-7001.

Thursday, May 7
Invisible Baseball Players: Life of Baseball’s Negro League Ball Players – A Snapshot

Lecturer: Dr. Eric R. Jackson, Associate Professor and Director, Black Studies Program, Department of History and Geography, Northern Kentucky University and Editorial Board and Book Review Editor, Journal of Pan African Studies
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, May 7, 2015
Where: Reakirt Auditorium
In 1947 Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier of the America’s favorite pastime sport – baseball. Despite his outstanding set of skills, Robinson was not first African American baseball player. There had been hundreds of African American ballplayers who had thrilled thousands of Black Americans since the 1920s. Join us as Dr. Jackson examines some of these individuals as well as how the Negro Black Leagues impacted the African American community in both small and large cities across the nation for decades.

Check back soon to register for this lecture.


Previous Lectures


Thursday, Jan. 29
Cincinnati Preservation: How it Happened, What it Means for Our Future

Lecturer: Paul Muller, Executive Director, Cincinnati Preservation Society
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 29
Where: Reakirt Auditorium

This lecture will present the concept that our historic resources are not static treasures to be held in suspended animation but rather the framework for reinventing our cities and our relationship to the past. Historic buildings and sites gain value when we engage them in the process of creating and sustaining a vital culture. Viewed in this way, preservation becomes a creative endeavor that adds depth and resonance to human experience. Examples will be drawn from the 50 years of Cincinnati Preservation Association (formerly Miami Purchase Association) and from emerging national and international trends.

The related exhibition Celebrating 50 Years of Working Together Saving Places is on display in the Culture Gallery of Cincinnati Museum Center through April 5, 2015.

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Cocktails with Curators

Have you ever looked at an object and wanted to know more? Do you enjoy learning beyond labels? Experience Cincinnati Museum Center collections in a whole new way by sipping on cocktails while discussing the ins and outs of your favorite artifacts with our curators. Learn more


Brown Bag Lecture Series

Now in its 20th season of lunchtime programs that focus on Cincinnati history, the Brown Bag Lecture Series returns with lectures presented in association with the docents of Cincinnati Heritage Programs.

The lectures, presented in Reakirt Auditorium, are free and open to the public. You're welcome to bring your own lunch or purchase lunch in the Gateway Cafe in the Rotunda, featuring a new menu. No reservations are required, but space is limited.

All lectures take place from noon-1 p.m.

Jan. 26, 2015
Delta Queen and Cincinnati's First Family of the River

Feb. 16, 2015
Cincinnati During the Civil War

March 16, 2015
Entertainment and Recreation in Early Cincinnati

April 20, 2015
Cincinnati's Jewish Heritage

May 18, 2015
Sentimental Journey - Doris and Rosemary

June 15, 2015
Cincinnati Union Terminal

July 20, 2015
Crosley Field of Dreams

Sept. 21, 2015
Cincinnati and the Prohibition Period

Oct. 19, 2015
The Sad, Seamy, Sinister Side of Cincinnati - Part 2

Nov. 16, 2015
Cincinnati's Winter Holiday Traditions

Dec. 21, 2015
Golden Age of Television