American History (After Hours)

Join us at the National Museum of American History…. after hours.

Enjoy evenings of food, drinks, and dynamic conversation that connect you with the past to make sense of the present and shape the future. Cheers to history!

Upcoming After Hours

Don't miss a single night at the museum! Sign up for the Smithsonian Food History Newsletter to receive updates for upcoming After Hours programs.

The Great History of American Brewing  
Saturday, October 29 • 6:30 - 9 p.m.

It’s a fact: beer history is American history, and tonight we’re serving up a flight of brewing history with the help of historians, experts, and breweries.

Join us for four tasty tales of brewing, beer, and policy from the Colonial era, 19th century, Prohibition, and the 1970s. Then dive deeper into the tastes, stories, politics, and history of each era by talking with experts, viewing museum collections and archival materials, and tasting some historically inspired brews at each station:


ON TAP: Alewerks Brewing Company of historic Williamsburg



ON TAP: Baltimore's Heavy Seas Beer



IN THE SPEAKEASY: New Columbia Distillers



ON TAP: To be announced soon!


The exhibitions American Enterprise and Object Project will be open and we’ll be holding a scavenger hunt with prizes for the first three teams to hunt down all the correct answers. This event is part of the museum’s new American Brewing History Initiative and Smithsonian Food History Weekend 2016.

Tickets are $40 each and include beer tastings and food pairings. 


Previous After Hours

American History (After Hours): 2014-15 Season

Beer stein January 23: Brewing Up History
Warner Bros. Theater

How are today’s brewers inspired by history? On January 23rd we held a beer talk and tasting featuring Bluejacket brewery’s Greg Engert and beer historian Mike Stein as they discuss the art and science of brewing. Engert and Stein shared their story of creating new beers inspired by beer styles of the early 19th century and we explored the connections between Washington, DC’s craft beer scene today and the DC beer world of the past. Browse through pictures from the evening or watch the video. 

Watch the talk here: Brewing Up History



Gibson's pure rye whiskey bottle and boxFebruary 26: The Craft Distilling (Re)Revolution
Warner Bros. Theater

Ever taken a trip to your local distiller? On February 26, author James Rodewald, author of American Spirit: An Exploration of the Craft Distilling Revolution, joined DC’s own Derek Brown and Michael Lowe of Green Hat Gin as they explored the current and historic revolutions in American distilling. Browse through pictures from the evening or watch the video.

Watch the talk here: The Craft Distilling (Re)Revolution



Julia Child and friendsMarch 16: The French Chef, American-Style

What happened after America mastered French cooking? Starting in the late 1960s, Julia Child and her editor Judith Jones, as well as countless food-loving Americans, began to look away from Europe and toward their own country for inspiration, exploring the rich heritage of American regional cooking. Food history writers Alex Prud'homme (co-author of My Life in France) and Sara Franklin (oral historian for Jones) discussed the renewal of American regional food culture after Julia's debut as The French Chef. Browse through pictures from the evening.

Watch the talk here: The French Chef, American-Style


Chicken AdvertisementApril 8: What the Cluck?
Warner Bros. Theater

How did chicken become America's go-to white meat? On April 8, farmers and Smithsonian historians joined for a conversation on the past, present, and future of chicken in America. From large-scale chicken production to backyard coops, from food safety to chicken marketing, how has American agriculture changed over time? The evening also featured live bluegrass from By & By and chicken coop demonstrations from Rent a Coop. Missed it? Want to relive it? Read the blog post, browse through pictures from the evening, or watch the video.

Watch the talk here: What the Cluck?



Sushi kitMay 13: Sushi for Sale
Warner Bros. Theater

How did a Japanese delicacy become an American favorite? On May 13 we explored the history of sushi in America with an award-winning chef Kaz Okochi, Bonny Wolf of American Food Roots, and FoodStory founder Yoko Isassi. The evening also featured sushi-making demonstrations. Missed it? Want to relive it? Read the blog post or browse through pictures from the evening. 


Food in the garden logo

August 20: FOOD in the Garden - Seeds of Innovation
Victory Garden at Constitution Ave and 12th Street NW

From heirlooms to biotech, how have seeds fed us in the past and how will seeds feed the future? Scientists, researchers, and historians discussed the impact of seeds, seed saving, and seed technology on our historic and modern food systems. This event was part of FOOD in the Garden 2015 - where we explored innovations in American food and gardens with tastes, talks, and tours outside in the Smithsonian Gardens’ Victory Garden



Food in the garden logoSeptember 17: FOOD in the Garden - How Does Your Garden Grow?
6:00 - 8:00pm, Victory Garden at Constitution Ave and 12th Street NW

What do the kitchen gardens of our founding father, Victory gardens of WWII and edible rooftops have in common? Good design of course. From soil to sun, how do plant needs, space, and aesthetics influence the design of a garden? Historic and modern garden designers reflected on the past, present, and future of edible garden design and we gathered inspiration for our own unique spaces. This event was part of FOOD in the Garden 2015 - where we explored innovations in American food and gardens with tastes, talks, and tours outside in the Smithsonian Gardens’ Victory Garden



American History (After Hours): 2015-16 Season 

Seasoned Pass logoThe Seasoned Pass
October 2015 - May 2016

 Make sure you don’t miss a single American History (After Hours) event and get The Seasoned Pass to After Hours 2015-2016. Inject your year with innovations in beer, the (tasty) history of tailgating, Korean food, and the unforgettable Paris Wine Tasting of 1976. The Seasoned Pass is $195 and guarantees you a spot at all six programs of the 2015-2016 season. On sale until October 24.


Beer bottle and advertising pieceOctober 24: Brewing Up Innovation
6:30 - 8:30pm, Coulter Performance Plaza

The story of American craft beer is one of innovation- from business and entrepreneurship to styles and technologies, craft beer is constantly evolving. Join Maureen Ogle, historian and author of  Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer, Kim Jordan, co-founder of New Belgium Brewing Company, and Dick Cantwell, of the Brewers Association as they reflect on the history of brewing and the resurgence of the modern craft beer movement. How has American beer innovated and what will the craft beer of the future look like?  Conduct some innovative beer research of your own as you sample brews from a mix of local and national breweries and check out some history brewing objects from the museum's collections. This event is part of the Smithsonian Food History Weekend.


Whiskey bottleNovember 11: Blown Away - The Art and Science of Glass
6:30 - 8:30pm, Coulter Performance Plaza

From cocktail glasses to beakers, glass is part of American life. But how is glass made today? And how was glass made throughout American history? Enjoy food, drinks, and an exploration of the art and science of glass.  Join a conversation with scientific and artistic glass blowers, enjoy custom cocktails and samples from Pittsburgh’s historic Wigle Whiskey, check out the museum’s newest exhibit “Science Under Glass,” and learn about how we use glass in art and in the laboratory. 




Steelers stamp January 14: The Great American Tailgate
6:30-9:00 pm, Coulter Performance Plaza

Tailgating at sporting events is a time-honored American tradition. But how and why did we as Americans eat and drink their way into celebrating sports? Join a conversation with historians, researchers, and sports fans on why and how we tailgate. Explore unique collections objects on display that tell the story of American ingenuity including  the Igloo cooler, unique tailgating advertising and brands, sports-history objects, and more. 
Image source: NPM



Cooking Korean in America text over a green bowl on white backgroundMarch 10: Cooking Korean in America
6:30-9:00 pm, Coulter Performance Plaza

From the Korean Taco to Kimchi Burgers, Korean food is making itself known on American menus. what is the history of Korean food in America? 

Join us on March 10 and explore the (delicious) history of Korean cooking in the US and its impact on American cuisine. The evening will start out with a cooking demonstration and continue with a panel discussion and interactive reception featuring:

  • Deuki Hong and Matt Rodbard, authors of Koreatown: A Cook Book
  • Maria Godoy, senior editor at NPR and host of The Salt
  • Live cooking demonstrations and storytelling with Danielle Chang, founder of LuckyRice and author of the cook book, Lucky Rice
  • Delicious Korean-American-inspired food
  • Koreatown: A Cook Book and Lucky Rice book signings
  • Themed drinks and snacks

Image courtesy of the Freer Sackler Gallery


The Judgment of Paris text over an image of three people drinking wineMay 16: The Judgment of Paris & American Wine 
6:30-9:00 pm, Coulter Performance Plaza

An evening of wine tasting, food, and dynamic conversation! Forty years ago, American winemakers surprised a panel of French wine experts (and the world) by placing first in a blind tasting that pitted the new American wines against the best of France. 

Join us for a conversation about the legacy of the Judgment of Paris and American wine history from the people who were there and then test your own wine tasting skills and more in an interactive reception. Listen and learn from the experts themselves:

  • Steven Spurrier – The organizer of the 1976 Judgment of Paris.
  • George Taber – The only journalist to cover the tasting and author of The Judgment of Paris.
  • Warren Winiarski – The winemaker of the winning 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon and founder of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars
  • Bo Barrett – The current owner of Chateau Montelena and son of the late Jim Barrett who owned Chateau Montelena at the time of the Judgment of Paris.
  • Violet Grgich – The daughter and co-proprietor of Mike Grgich, the winemaker of the winning 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay and founder of the winery, Grgich Hills.
  • Ted Baseler – The CEO of Ste. Michelle Estates and CEO of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars.

The reception will include tastings, activities, and original winemaking objects and artifacts from our collections. Tickets include wine tastings and a hearty plate of appetizers.

Image courtesy of Bella Spurrier. American History (After Hours): The Judgment of Paris & American Wine is made possible through generous support from: Altria Group and Wegmans Food Market, Inc.


Food in the Garden with title text and date overlayed on imageAugust 10: FOOD in the Garden - Gardens & Community
6:00 - 8:30 pm; Victory Garden

American History (After Hours) goes outside with Smithsonian Gardens for an evening in the museum’s Victory Garden! Join us for FOOD in the Garden, an evening of food, cocktails by Green Hat Gin of New Columbia Distillers, and dynamic conversation exploring the connection between communities and nature.

On August 10, we'll explore how gardens and public green spaces have brought people together to build community, learn, and heal throughout American history. From parks, to victory gardens, to community plots, these green spaces have offered not only beautiful and calming spaces but also a place for civic engagement during critical times. Join us as we celebrate the history of public gardens and try to answer the question: How do gardens foster community and change? 

The evening will include a panel discussion featuring

  • Tom Kanatakeniate Cook, Running Strong for American Indian Youth
  • Pam Hess, Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture
  • Elin Haaga, George Washington University landscape design program
  • Dr. Frederick Foote, The Green Road Project, a natural healing environment for wounded service members and their family members

And an interactive garden party-themed reception with

  • Custom cocktails by Green Hat Gin of New Columbia Distillers
  • Tours in the Victory Garden
  • Delicious food by our own Chef Jose Diaz
  • Croquet games in the lawn
  • Arcadia activity station
  • Story-sharing with Community of Gardens by Smithsonian Gardens
  • Groundwork Anacostia station
  • And more!

FOOD in the Garden takes places in the Victory Garden on the east side of the National Museum of American History.

From Our Blog

Photo of a kitchen with light blue cabinets, a large rectangular dining table with marigold tablecloth, and lots of pots and pans.
Julia Child and Pat Pratt in the kitchen in Cambridge, 1998. Photo by Christopher Hirsheimer.
See more blog posts