Campus & Community

Bird’s-eye view of spring

Mark your calendar with film series, talks, exhibits

8 min read

The calendar of events at Harvard this semester is packed with activities to carry you through the spring.

A trio of iconic filmmakers and a Pulitzer-winning author are giving free talks. The science museums are rolling out a fresh slate of innovative exhibits.

If you’re looking for a fun Valentine’s Day-themed outing, hit Oberon and test your pop-culture acumen at the “Old School Game Show.”

Those determined to stick to their New Year’s resolutions may find Daniel H. Pink’s talk on the science of perfect timing helpful. And when cabin fever sets in around spring break, plenty of events are on tap to keep minds active and dispel the winter doldrums.

— Compiled by Rebecca Coleman

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Good news for cinephiles

Wide Angle: The Norton Lectures on Cinema

As the 2018 Norton professors, Frederick Wiseman, Agnès Varda, and Wim Wenders join a distinguished club that includes the likes of T.S. Eliot, Jorge Luis Borges, and Toni Morrison. The six-lecture series is free, but tickets are required. Wiseman, Jan. 29, Feb. 5; Varda, Feb. 26, 27; Wenders, April 2, 9 (4 p.m., Sanders Theatre). As part of the lecture series, the Harvard Film Archive is showing the films of Wiseman, Varda, and Wenders, and the directors will appear in person at several of the screenings.

Wim Wenders.

Wim Wenders

© Wim Wenders

Agnes Varda.
Frederick Wiseman.

Agnes Varda; Frederick Wiseman.

Images by Julia Fabry © Cine Tamaris; Erik Madigan Heck

Caught in the Net

Playing at the Film Archive in concert with the ICA exhibit “Art in the Age of the Internet, 1989 to Today” will be movies such as Richard Kelly’s “Southland Tales” (March 10), David Cronenberg’s “eXistenZ” (March 16), and Kathryn Bigelow’s “Strange Days” (March 17).

Scene from "War Games."

John Badham’s “WarGames” (1983), at the HFA March 12 as part of the Caught in the Net series.

Film still courtesy of Harvard Film Archive

Feminism and the Fairy Tale

The free Radcliffe film series continues to explore, as the organizers put it, the “playful pas de deux between feminism and the fairy tale” with selections like science-fiction thriller “Ex Machina” (Feb. 8) and horror comedy “The Love Witch” (April 19). (6 p.m., Radcliffe College Room, Schlesinger Library.)

Logo for Feminism & The Fairy Tale film series.

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Health and happiness

Forest Bathing

Relax and unplug on a leisurely walk through the Arboretum with a certified forest therapy guide. The practice is inspired by Shinrin-yoku, a term coined in Japan, where much infrastructure has been created around designated healing forests. The walks take place the first Saturday and Thursday of each month, 8‒11 a.m. ($50.)

Participants in forest retreat.

Photo by Tam Willey

The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing

Author Daniel H. Pink distills research and data on timing and turns them into practical takeaways to answer questions such as: How can we use the hidden patterns of the day to build the ideal schedule? Why do certain breaks dramatically improve student test scores? (6 p.m., Feb. 5, Brattle Theatre, $5‒$28.75 with book.)

"When" book cover.

The Sleep-Deprived Human Brain

Nora D. Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institute of Health, will discuss her research on the effects of sleep deprivation on the brain. (4:15 p.m., March 29, Knafel Center, free.)


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 Science and technology

From Stone to Silicone

Museum staffers and Harvard students painstakingly created plaster casts of the wall carvings that once adorned ancient Mesopotamian palaces spanning more than 1,400 years. The stunning results are on display on the third floor of the Semitic Museum. (Ongoing, Harvard Semitic Museum.)

Stone to Silicone detail.

Courtesy Harvard Semitic Museum. © President and Fellows of Harvard College

Microbial Life: A Universe at the Edge of Sight

Experience the wonders of microbial activity and the surprising beauty of bacterial forms. And get some practical advice: The exhibit’s full-scale model of a kitchen offers interactive stations answering age-old questions such as “Can I eat the leftovers?” and “What stinks?” (Through Sept. 2, 2019, Harvard Museum of Natural History.)

Scott Chimileski.

Harvard microbiologist Scott Chimileski and the 5-foot-high acrylic Winogradsky column he is creating.

Photograph courtesy of Scott Chimileski

Analyzing Egyptian Pyramids in the Digital Age 

Egyptologist Yukinori Kawae will discuss historical pyramid construction methods and how a Japanese consortium is using 3-D documentation to update survey data. (6 p.m., April 5, Geological Lecture Hall, free.)


Image courtesy of Yukinori Kawae

Crossing Over: A Photographer in the MCZ

Photographer Rosamond Purcell will recount how the Museum of Comparative Zoology collections have served as models and inspiration for her strangely beautiful, often unsettling images. (6 p.m., April 12, Geological Lecture Hall, free.)


Photo by Rosamond Purcell

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Valentine’s Day

Old School Game Show Valentine’s Special

A live interactive theater experience done with all the pageantry and analog style of a 1970s television game show. The show combines elements of pub trivia, variety specials, and comedy sketches. (8 p.m., Feb. 16, Oberon, $19.)

Old School Game Show poster.

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For book lovers

History, Identity, Politics, and the Art of Writing

Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Sympathizer” and “The Refugees” will offer solutions for writers concerned with history, identity, and politics. (4:15 p.m., Feb. 8, Knafel Center.)

Viet Thanh Nguyen.

Photo courtesy of Viet Thanh Nguyen

Harvard Square Book Circle

Discussion of Peter Godfrey-Smith’s “Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness.” In captivity, octopuses have exhibited high intelligence. How is it that a creature with such gifts evolved through a lineage so radically distant from our own? (7 p.m., Jan. 29, Harvard Book Store, free.)

“Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness" book cover.

To Fight Against This Age

Rob Riemen discusses his international bestseller, comprising two urgent essays about the rise of fascism and the ways to combat it. (7 p.m., Jan. 30, Harvard Book Store, free.)

"To Fight Against This Age" book cover.

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Bugs Bunny Film Festival

For more than 20 years, the Brattle Theatre has rolled out its classic Looney Tunes revue during school vacation week. (Feb. 16-24, Brattle Theatre.)

Scene from "Bugs Bunny."

Image courtesy of Warner Bros.

Amazing Archaeology Fair

Families can join in colonial-era excavations using smartphones, “travel” via virtual reality with a tour guide to Egypt or Israel using a Google Cardboard viewer, and more. Live music provided by THUD, The Harvard Undergraduate Drummers. (1‒4 p.m., March 24, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.)


I ❤ Science

Observe tiny, tough tardigrades (microscopic “water bears”) and make your own model. Design a Lego brick home for an insect or invent a flying creation for a wind tunnel. Meet scientists who investigate fossils, microbes, insect flight, and more. (10 a.m.‒4 p.m., Feb. 10, Harvard Museum of Natural History.)

Specimens from the Museum of Comparative Zoology’s Ichthyology Collection are examined to help understanding about adaptations in fish.

Specimens from the Museum of Comparative Zoology’s Ichthyology Collection are examined to help understanding about adaptations in fish.

Photo courtesy of Harvard Museum of Natural History © President and Fellows of Harvard College

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Dance, visual arts, music

Vanity Lane

This fairy tale and ballet written by student La’Toya Princess Jackson features cutting-edge electronic music with retro ’80s influence, classical ballet blended with contemporary choreography, and a study of modern media images told in a timeless fairy-tale format. It addresses the duality of beauty and self-worth, external and internal, and urges people to look behind the mask of superficial beauty to find the true beauty within. (March 23 and 24, 7:30 p.m.; March 25, 2 p.m. at Farkas Hall, $12, $8 with student ID.)

"Vanity Lane," ballet.

Within Living Memory

On view across three floors of the Carpenter Center, Renée Green’s exhibition is a meditation spurred by inhabiting an architectural icon while exploring the historical and institutional legacies of modernism’s other forms, including cinema, visual art, poetry, music, and literature. It is the culmination of the artist’s two-year residency at the center. (Feb. 1‒April 15.)

Within Living Memory exhibit.

Americas:Veritas, 2018. Still from digital film.

Courtesy of the artist and Free Agent Media

The Book of Needs

The presentation of news and information is anything but objective. Countless decisions go into each article in a magazine, website, or newspaper. Peruvian artist Fernando Bryce’s 2015 work comprising 81 ink-on-paper drawings is on display at the Harvard Art Museums for the first time, stretching across two walls in the University Research Gallery. (Through May 6.)

Book of Needs exhibit.

Fernando Bryce, The Book of Needs (detail #39), 2015. Ink on paper in 81 parts. Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Margaret Fisher Fund

Image courtesy of Alexander and Bonin, New York


Based on the game tic-tac-toe, “OXO” is an interactive multichannel installation influenced by early computer games, including “Noughts and Crosses,” or “OXO,” a game built in 1952 by Alexander S. Douglas. A new installation by JODI, the artist collective formed in 1994 by Joan Heemskerk and Dirk Paesmans, responds to this early history of computing, war games, and artificial intelligence. Visit the Lightbox Gallery to play OXO throughout the installation. (Feb. 7‒April 23.)

JODI OXO exhibit.

Computer simulation of Alexander S. Douglas, OXO (or Noughts and Crosses), 1952.

Courtesy of Harvard Art Museums

Timeless Portraits and Dreams: A Festival/Symposium in Honor of Geri Allen

Two free tribute concerts to jazz pianist and composer Geri Allen, who died over the summer. Feb. 16: Curated by Vijay Iyer, featuring Kris Davis, Craig Taborn, Jason Moran, and Iyer in solo and duo configurations. Feb. 17: Curated by Terri Lyne Carrington, featuring Carmen Lundy, Oliver Lake, Don Byron, Kris Davis, Tia Fuller, and Yosvany Terry. (8 p.m., Paine Hall.)

Geri Allen.

Geri Allen

Ora Harris/Ross Clayton Prods.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor

The Canadian experimental music collective, which originated in Montreal in 1994, plays the Sanders Theatre. (8 p.m., March 8.)

Godspeed You! Black Emperor plays.

Wikimedia Commons

Musical Explorations in Brazil’s Candomblé

Genevieve Dempsey, ethnomusicologist and Mamolen Fellow, will discuss how multifaith Afro-Brazilians use music and ritual as clarion calls for survival, resiliency, and autonomy. (Noon, Jan. 31, Barker Center, free.)

Dance ritual, Brazil.

Photo courtesy of the Hutchins Center

Claire Chase, Premieres for Flute

Premieres of works by Pauline Oliveros, Felipe Lara, Suzanne Farrin, Richard Beaudoin, Chaya Czernowin, and Jason Eckardt. (8 p.m., March 29, Holden Chapel, free.)

Claire Chase plays flute.
Claire Chase