Best Smithsonian Lecture Series

National Portrait Gallery’s American Pictures Distinguished Lecture Series
One of the best (free) ways to enjoy a Sunday afternoon last spring was the National Portrait Gallery, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and Washington College’s American Pictures Distinguished Lecture Series. In its second year, the program featured disparate luminaries presenting candid yet informed opinions on inspirational works. Over the span of six weeks, the four-part series brought together the likes of director John Waters, who gave an appropriately daft take on Cy Twombly; New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast, who dissected Charles Addams’ macabre sense of humor; and Jamaica Kincaid, who passionately analyzed Edward Lamson Henry’s painting Kept In. This year’s series lacks some of the star power of last season, but its Pulitzer Prize-winning lineup of playwright and cartoonist Jules Feiffer, novelist James M. McPherson, and historian David Hackett Fischer is undeniably company worth keeping.