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.

2014 Lectures

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

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

Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015
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, 2015
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.

Register for this lecture >

Thursday, April 23, 2015
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

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. 

Check back soon to register for this lecture.

Previous Lectures

Thursday, Jan. 16

Who: Dr. Stanley D. Gehrt, The Ohio State University
What: The Myths and Truths of Ghost Dogs
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16
Where: Newsreel Theater

Urban landscapes continue to increase across much of the world, which presents challenges for the management and conservation of large carnivores. Coyotes have become residents in many metropolitan areas across North America, and they are arguably the most mysterious and feared carnivore in the city.  For the past 13 years, researchers have been uncovering the hidden lives of coyotes in Chicago, one of the most urbanized landscapes in the U.S. 

Results from this project, the largest of its kind, form the foundation of this program, including discussions on how the coyote adjusts to urban life, the ecological role they play in cities, and the implications of their success for people and pets. Over the course of the presentation, we will dispel some of the myths and uncover facts about their lives, and what they mean to us.

Rock Studies
Thursday, Jan. 23

Who: Dr. Kyle M. Straub, Tulane University
What: Rock Studies: A Flawed Record of Earth’s History, But the Best One We Have
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 23
Where: Reakirt Auditorium

How do we know what we know about the earth? What does the latest research studying our planet tell us about its history? Join us and Dr. Kyle Straub from Tulane University in exploring the challenges and methods that geologists are currently developing in order to read the grand story of the history of the earth.

Scientifically known as Stratigraphy, the study and research of layered sedimentary rocks on continental margins preserve the most complete record of environmental conditions in Earth’s past. These strata preserve information related to tectonics, sea-level, and climate and if correctly interpreted, could aid our ability to predict the consequences of future climate change.

Unfortunately, we lack a Rosetta Stone for reading this record, and unlocking the wealth of information preserved in stratigraphy has proven difficult. Challenges include the incompleteness of the record and the preservation of patterns that resemble those associated with changing environmental conditions, but which are generated by the internal processes of rivers and deltas. 

Ancient Greece Out of the Dark
Monday, Feb. 3

Who: Professor Irene Lemos, Oxford University
What: Ancient Greece Out of the Dark
When: 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 3
Where: Reakirt Auditorium

The site of Lefkandi in Greece has offered much to the archaeology of the Late Bronze and Iron Age Aegean. The amazing discoveries made by teams of British and Greek archaeologists at the site have changed our perspectives of the period from 1200 to 700 BCE. In this lecture, a collaboration with the Archaeological Institute of America, Professor Lemos will discuss the most important discoveries at the site. Under the control of the powerful palace of Thebes but after the collapse of the Mycenaean administration system, the site became one of the key and most important settlements in the eastern Mediterranean.

During the last stages of the Bronze Age and into the Iron Age the inhabitants exploited the beneficial location of the site in Greece and the natural resources of its region. Lefkandi developed into one of the most prosperous and affluent communities of its time. Was this an exceptional site whose wealth and complex social organization was indeed unrivaled or is it because of the modern archaeological research that we can gain a glimpse of one of the lesser known periods in ancient Greece?

Fracking Panel Forum
Wednesday, Feb. 26

7 p.m., Reakirt Auditorium


  • Dr. Amy Townsend-Small, Assistant Professor of Biogeochemistry, University of Cincinnati
  • Dr. Erin Haynes, Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Health, University of Cincinnati
  • Dr. Robert Chase, Professor, Edwy R. Brown Department of Petroleum, Engineering, Marietta College

Moderator: Mr. Kevin Pape, Gray & Pape Inc.

Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as "fracking," is a method of recovering or extracting natural gas from deep shale formations and has been used since the 1940s. The process of hydraulic fracturing involves pumping millions of gallons of water, sand and a variety of chemicals into horizontally drilled wells. When this combination of liquids is pumped into the well under extremely high pressure, it fractures the shale and allows the natural gas to flow from the fissures that the sand particles hold open.

Fracking is very common and widely used across the United States, including natural gas wells in Appalachian states such as Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York. Several active natural gas wells in Ohio are currently being fracked. As exploration for natural gas continues, future expansion and fracking of natural gas wells in Ohio is extremely likely.

A hotly contested dispute is currently being played out in the public media and courtrooms across the country. One side of the dispute maintains that fracking is a safe, effective and sophisticated method of extracting natural gas that will reduce our reliance on foreign energy sources. The other side describes it as an unreasonably dangerous process that is an assault on the environment and public health. 

Please join our panelists for an informative evening discussion regarding the process of fracking, the implications for the environment and for human health.

Evolution on Islands: The Island Biogeography of East Asia
Thursday, March 20

Lecturer: Herman Mays, Ph.D., Cincinnati Museum Center Curator of Zoology
When: Thursday, March 20, 2014 with special screening of the OMNIMAX® film Journey to the South Pacific at 6 p.m. (buy tickets) and free lecture and Q&A at 7 p.m.
Where: Reakirt Auditorium

Islands are laboratories of evolution. From the Galapagos Islands to New Guinea, the islands of the Pacific Ocean have provided the foundation for our modern understanding of evolution. Comparatively less attention, however, has been paid to the islands of the Eastern Pacific, namely Taiwan and the thousands of islands that make up the nation of Japan. Cincinnati Museum Center Curator of Zoology Dr. Herman L. Mays Jr. has been a key participant in a long-term study of the birds of this region of more than a decade. Part scientific results and part travelogue, you are invited to hear about the exploration of this region by Dr. Mays and his colleagues, its myriad plants and animals and how cutting-edge tools in genetics are helping decipher the history of the region's birds.

Thursday, April 17
This is Your Life: 60 Years and Counting - Transmitting the Lessons of the Holocaust Through One Family’s Story

Lecturer: Julie Kohner
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, April 17
Where: Reakirt Auditorium

In Collaboration with the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education

In 1953, Ralph Edwards, a television personality, took a courageous step and introduced the story of a Holocaust survivor on the popular program he hosted, This is Your Life, the most  watched television show of its time. This was only eight years after the end of World War II when people, including survivors, hardly spoke about their experiences at home, let alone on national television.

This presentation introduces you to This Is Your Life and particularly, the woman who appeared on national television on May 27, 1953: Holocaust survivor Hanna Bloch Kohner, the mother of presenter Julie Kohner. The original television episode will be shown during the discussion.

After the video presentation, Ms. Kohner continues the discussion with an update of the lives of those who appeared on the show, how the show came to be, artifacts from the show and life after the show, with questions and answers. A book signing will follow at end of the program.

Wednesday, May 28
A Glass of Wine, a Loaf of Bread and Wow!: Nicholas Longworth’s Many Contributions to Cincinnati

Lecturer: Wendy Hart Beckman, Author, Founders and Famous Families: Cincinnati
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 28
Where: Reakirt Auditorium

Presented in collaboration with Wood Herron & Evans

Learn about Nicholas Longworth's many contributions to Cincinnati in this lecture by Wendy Hart Beckman, author of the latest book on Cincinnati history, Founders and Famous Families: Cincinnati. Everything in this book is truly Cincinnati, right down to the research conducted mostly at Cincinnati Museum Center’s History Library and Archives. (Read more about the Longworth family in these articles from the Cincinnati History Library and Archives!)

In 1804, when he was 21, Longworth came to Cincinnati to study law under Judge Jacob Burnet. By 1860, Nicholas Longworth owned more land, had more money and produced more wine than anyone else in the country. He was a lawyer, banker, amateur botanist and philanthropist.

Thanks to Longworth’s generosity by donating land, we now have the Cincinnati Observatory and Eden Park. Former President John Quincy Adams spread the first layer of mortar and laid the cornerstone of the Observatory, declaring the occasion a tribute to the citizens of Cincinnati and an example to the rest of the nation.

His granddaughter Maria started Rookwood Pottery and was instrumental in starting the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. His great-grandson married Alice Roosevelt, daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt. And the Longworth estate downtown is now the Taft Museum of Art.

Because of Nicholas Longworth, we have familiar names like Mount Adams and Rookwood, as well as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's famous poem, Catawba Wine. Although Cincinnati had been called the "Queen City" before Longfellow’s poem, his ode to the grape sealed the name in the minds of many.

A book signing will follow lecture. A portion of book sale proceeds will be donated to the Cincinnati Museum Center.

Listen to an interview with Beckman on WVXU >

Tuesday, June 24
Harlem's Rattlers & the Great War

Lecturers: Jeffrey T. Sammons & John H. Morrow, Jr., authors of the new book Harlem’s Rattlers and the Great War: The Undaunted 369th Regiment and the African American Quest for Equality
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 24
Cost: Lecture is free. A 1913-Style Dinner precedes lecture; click here for more information and to purchase tickets.
Where: Reakirt Auditorium

In collaboration with the University of Cincinnati

When on May 15, 1918, a French lieutenant warned Henry Johnson of the 369th Regiment to move back because of a possible enemy raid, John reportedly replied: “I’m an American, and I never retreat.”

The story, even if apocryphal, captures the mythic status of the 369th Regiment, the African-American combat unit that never lost a man to capture or a foot of ground that had been taken during the first World War. Harlem’s Rattlers and the Great War reveals as never before the poignant history of this unit from its beginnings as the 15th New York National Guard to its singular performance in WWI and the pathos of postwar adjustment. Read more about the book in the Chronicle of Higher Education

In this lecture, listen to Sammons highlight Ohio’s important but little-known connection to the 15th New York National Guard/369th U.S. Infantry Regiment through the "The Original Ohio Players." Find out more about Charles W. Anderson, one of Booker T. Washington's most trusted operatives and native to Oxford, Ohio. And learn about Captain Charles Ward Fillmore, born in the Xenia/Springfield area and perhaps the person most responsible for the existence of the 369th Regiment.

Then hear Morrow recount stories from the 369th Regiment in France in 1918, also known as Harlem’s Rattlers. First working as laborers in the American Expeditionary Forces, the Regiment transferred to the French army and worked as frontline combat soldiers.

A book signing will follow the lecture.

1913-Style Dinner

When: Tuesday, June 24 at 5:30 p.m.
Where: Cincinnati Dining Room
Cost: $40 Members, $45 non-Members. Reservations are now closed.

During World War I, the United States encouraged citizens to conserve food and other materials in an effort to increase supplies for the troops abroad. Join Sammons, Morrow and scholars from around the world for a three-course, 1913-style dinner that will transport you back the days just before the First World War. Participants from University of Cincinnati’s Summer Institute, World War I and the Arts: Sounds, Sights, Psyches, will be there and ready to discuss WWI topics. The meal includes Grape Fruit Salad, Tourte Au Poulet, Fresh Strawberry Shortcake and a cash bar.

Thursday, July 17
Paul Briol, a Cincinnati Treasure

Lecturer: Maureen France, Photographer/Associate Professor, University of Cincinnati, School of Design
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, July 17
Where: Newsreel Theater

Chances are, you’ve encountered Paul Briol’s work around the Queen City at one time or another. During his 30-year career as a photographer, he captured more than 6,000 photos of Cincinnati, working almost exclusively with a tripod-mounted 8 x 10 inch view camera. Often, he spent hours printing a single photo to his exact specifications—some of which are featured in Museum Center’s current exhibit, Treasures in Black & White: Historic Photographs of Cincinnati.

Join us for this upcoming lecture led by professor and professional photographer Maureen France and discover the man behind the camera lens. Learn about his life, work and contributions to his profession, study an 8x10 camera and unearth the background of photography in Cincinnati.

What you’ll learn about: Photography in the 20th century, photography and the Queen City, Cincinnati industry and architecture through the ages

Be sure to stop by Treasures in Black & White in our South Gallery to see some of Briol’s most iconic photographs.

Thursday, July 31
Maria Longworth Storer: A Woman of Power and Influence

Lecturer: Colonel Constance J. Moore
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, July 31
Where: Reakirt Auditorium and on Ustream

In collaboration with Ursulines of Cincinnati at St. Ursula Academy

Maria Longworth Storer (1849-1932) is famous for founding Rookwood Pottery. This lecture, however, looks beyond Rookwood and paints a portrait of a woman who pushed social boundaries and left lasting impacts on politics through her charitable work.

Storer funded a free pediatrics hospital, daycare center and healthcare team for the Home of the Friendless. She provided scholarships for talented artists. She also invested much of her wealth in municipal improvements and was an expert fundraiser for civic causes, including the Zoological Center.

When Bellamy, her husband, was elected to the House of Representatives, Maria had rollicking discussions at her dinner table concerning Progressive era issues, with dynamic men such as Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and Henry Adams. She had the ability to draw these dynamic men into spirited discussions about issues of the day.

After Bellamy joined the diplomatic service, Maria influenced negotiations following the Spanish American War. She advised the Secretary of State about political concerns in several European governments. During World War I, Maria bravely sought clarification of the Red Cross entrance requirements so religious sisters could participate in nursing efforts required by the military.

Learn more about Storer's work, along with a look at philanthropy in Cincinnati today, during this lecture.

Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014
Cincinnati Shadow & Light: The Photographs of Michael Keating

Lecturer: Michael E. Keating
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 18
Where: Reakirt Auditorium

Cincinnati-based photographer and Emmy-award winner Michael E. Keating captures portraits that tell moving and nuanced stories about the places we call home. His images of our city’s neighborhoods, buildings, sports and people span the last five decades, highlighting new perspectives and revealing the Queen City.

Join us for a retrospective display of Keating’s images and discover Cincinnati’s beauty while getting a glimpse of the harsh realities of everyday life in the city. Go behind the scenes with him as he recounts decisive moments in professional sports and feel the grit and drama while he tells the stories behind life-changing, breaking news photographs.

Discover Keating’s most poignant portraits, tender moments and photographs through five sections titled The Ohio River, Dispatches from the Field, The Cincinnati Reds and Character & Personality. A book signing will follow the lecture.

Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014
Evolution and Creation: Conflicting or Compatible?

Lecturer: Patricia H. Kelley, Professor of Geology, University of North Carolina Wilmington, 2009-2014 Paleontological Society Distinguished Lecturer on Evolution and Society
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 15
Where: Reakirt Auditorium

Many Americans view science and religion as incompatible, concluding that acceptance of evolution precludes religious faith. The lecture addresses whether evolution is in conflict with creation or whether there is a valid way to reconcile the two. Much of the controversy can be linked to insufficient understanding of what science is, how it differs from religion, and what is meant by evolution.

The lecture distinguishes science from religion, clarifies various meanings of evolution, and presents the evidence for evolution and the mechanisms by which it occurs.  Beyond the fossil record, Dr. Kelley also examines the Biblical creation accounts and creationist approaches such as Intelligent Design to assess the compatibility of evolution with faith-based perspectives.

What you’ll learn: The difference between science and religion, differing definitions of evolution, evidence supporting evolution, the implications of intelligent design and implications of biblical creation accounts


Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014
Phil Nuxhall's Stories in the Grove

Lecturer: Phil Nuxhall, Historian & Docent Trainer, Spring Grove Cemetery
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014
Where: Reakirt Auditorium

Well-known Cincinnati historian of the entombed, embalmed, cremated, and encased, Phil Nuxhall takes you on a personal presentation of his favorite people, places and things at Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum. The presentation includes beautiful photographs from his award winning book, Beauty in the Grove.

In addition to learning about the history, art, architecture and landscape of this National Historic Landmark, you will hear Phil’s favorite stories about people buried at the cemetery. Among those are a Titanic survivor, the person who created the Cincinnati Reds' first uniforms and the man who created the very first hot air balloon for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!

Sit back, relax and listen to an entertaining array of lively anecdotes, little known facts, and just plain oddities that make Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum an international destination!

Book signing follows lecture.


Monday, Nov. 10, 2014
Roadside Whales in the Atacama: The Discovery, Digitization and Salvage of the World’s Richest Graveyard of Fossil Marine Mammals

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Pyenson / Smithsonian Institution

Lecturer: Dr. Nicholas Pyenson, vertebrate paleontologist and curator of fossil marine mammals at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
When: 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 10
Where: Reakirt Auditorium

Join Museum Center and Dr. Pyenson, a paleobiologist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, as he shares the story of Cerro Ballena. This unique fossil site, in the Atacama Region of Chile, preserves many dozens of fossil whales, dolphins, seals and other bizarre extinct mammals. The full scope of the site was revealed in 2010, during widening of the Pan-American Highway by road construction crews. In late 2011, Pyenson lead a team of Smithsonian 3D digitization specialists and Chilean paleontologists to document the site before crucial information was lost.

Earlier this year, Pyenson and his team published their findings on Cerro Ballena to international acclaim, along with an open-access website featuring Google maps, Gigapan surveys of the site, and 3D models of the fossil whales that can be downloaded and 3D printed. Dr. Pyenson will describe the discovery of Cerro Ballena, its significance, and what 3D technology had meant for his work in building and preserving natural history collections.
What you'll learn from the lecture:

  • The multiple evolutionary origins of marine mammals
  • The importance of ocean, climate, and geologic change for studying biological evolution
  • The role of 3D digitization in paleontology



Email Newsletter

Subscribe to our Insights email newsletter to find out about our upcoming lectures!


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.

Oct. 20, 2014
Ghosts & Spirits of Cincinnati - Part Two

Nov. 17, 2014
Radio Waves

Dec. 15, 2014
Cincinnati’s Winter Holiday Traditions

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