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

Thursday, Jan. 29

Cincinnati Preservation: How it Happened, What it Means for Our Future

Wednesday, March 4

The Timber Rattlesnake in Ohio

Tuesday, March 24

America's Queen: A Queen City Native

Thursday, April 23

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


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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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.

Register for this lecture >

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.

Register for this lecture >

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. 

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Previous Lectures

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



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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