NYC's best lecture series and spots
You'll always learn something new at these discussion destinations, featuring big-name celebs, ruminations on science and more nerdy fun.
Wed Oct 5 2011
Photograph: Courtesy New York Historical Society
New-York Historical Society
New York Academy of Art
On Wednesdays, art admirers head to the academy's Wilkerson Gallery for talks with local painters, sculptors, writers and other multidisciplinary artists. Past speakers include Elizabeth Sackler, who helped found the eponymous center for feminist art in the Brooklyn Museum. 111 Franklin St between Church St and West Broadway (212-966-0300, nyaa.edu). Next event: Oct 12 at 6:30pm; free.
New-York Historical Society
This museum often attracts major political names for its talks; for example, former Soviet Union president Mikhail Gorbachev speaks with Charlie Rose later this month. Some events will be held at the New York Society for Ethical Culture (2 W 64th St at Central Park West) until November 11, when the institution's Central Park West building reopens to the public following extensive renovations. 170 Central Park West between 76th and 77th Sts (212-873-3400, nyhistory.org). Next event: "The Price of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity," Thu 6 at 6:30pm; $24, members $12.
The New York Psychoanalytic Society and Institute
These lectures trend toward academic areas, but look out for the venue's "Conversations With..." series, featuring cultural commentators and writers such as Joyce Carol Oates and New Yorker staffer Adam Gopnik. Recently, that magazine's film critic David Denby shared his thoughts on the future of the movie industry. The organization's psychological framework exposes some insightful lines of questioning, and the floor is usually opened for a Q&A session afterward. 247 E 82nd St between Second and Third Aves (212-879-6900, psychoanalysis.org). Next event: "The 9/11 Hijackers: Who They Were, Why They Did It. Can Psychoanalysis Help Us Understand What Turns A Teenager Into a Terrorist?," Nov 8 at 8:15pm; free.
92nd Street Y and 92YTribeca
Where else could you see a former Supreme Court justice, a Food Network personality and the daughter of one of our country's most famous presidents—all within one week? (For the record, that would be John Paul Stevens, Paula Deen and Caroline Kennedy.) The institution's downtown branch also plays host to stellar programs, with architecture and history talks held alongside discussions about cheesy '80s flicks. 92nd Street Y, 1305 Lexington Ave between 91st and 92nd Sts (212-415-5500, 92y.org). Next event: Visit website for full calendar. * 92YTribeca, 200 Hudson St at Canal St (212-601-1000, 92ytribeca.org). Next event: Visit website for full calendar.
The lectures at this cozy Gowanus space favor macabre subjects, such as 19th-century medical practices or ghostly folklore. The quirky spot attracts esoteric thinkers from universities and museums around the world. 543 Union St between Bond and Nevins Sts, Gowanus, Brooklyn (observatoryroom.org). Next event: "Born of the Floating World: A Brief Exploration of the Japanese Graphic Narrative," Thu 6 at 8pm; $5.
Open City Dialogues
Every other week, Jamie Hook's Open City Dialogues series examines one person's obsession with an eclectic aspect of urban living; past lectures have centered on real-life superheroes, squatters and pigeon racing. Pete's Candy Store, 709 Lorimer St between Frost and Richardson Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-302-3770, petescandystore.com). Next event: "Queen Bee: Big Apple Apiculture," Oct 10 at 7:30pm; free.
Rubin Museum of Art
Though this museum is focused on Buddhist art, its talks often cover wide-ranging topics such as the nature of dreams, nothingness, and the idea and act of pilgrimage. Speakers such as Buddhist monks, feminist icon Gloria Steinem and pastry chef Jacques Torres also cover a lot of ground. 150 W 17th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves (212-620-5000, rmanyc.org). Next event: Into the Silence with Wade Davis, Oct 24 at 7pm; $15, members $13.50.
Science & the City
The intellectual offerings at the New York Academy of Sciences are immense, and its Science & the City series provides an outlet for regular folks to get involved. Recent and upcoming events include discussions on robotics, online dating and human behavior in the digital world. 7 World Trade Center, 250 Greenwich St at Barclay St, 40th floor (212-298-8600, nyas.org). Next event: "Celluloid Science: Humanizing Life in the Lab," Oct 20 at 7pm; 25, students $20, members $15.
Secret Science Club
This five-year-old event gathers nerdy folks for scientific discussions of all stripes; past events have covered topics as varied as taxidermy, neuroscience and black holes. The series also attracts scientific rock stars, including James Hansen (head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies) and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. The Bell House, 149 7th St between Second and Third Aves, Gowanus, Brooklyn (secretscienceclub.blogspot.com). Next event: Oct 13 at 8pm; free.
The Times Center
Reporters from the venerable paper chat with big-name stars at this event space, which opened on the first floor of the Times' new headquarters in 2007. (Roger Ebert was a recent guest, talking with film critic A.O. Scott.) Each year, the venue also plays hosts to the New York Times Arts & Leisure Weekend, during which culture writers interview celebs—the last festival featured appearances from Katie Couric, Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor and Ryan Gosling, among others. 242 W 41st St between Seventh and Eighth Aves (212-556-4300, thetimescenter.com). Next event: Samuel L. Jackson, Oct 24 6:30--8pm; sold out.