The Library frequently hosts a variety of dynamic events, welcoming established scholars, leaders, and experts from numerous fields.



Upcoming Events

Bunker, Philbrick, and Atkinson Lectures

Ford Orientation Center

The 2019 Michelle Smith Lecture Series features three presentations from award-winning authors over a period of four months that includes Nick Bunker, Nathaniel Philbrick, and Rick Atkinson.  A reception and book signing will take place after each lecture. Participation is by subscription to the entire series. This series is supported by an endowment established by a generous grant from Robert H. and Clarice Smith.

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Ford Evening Book Talk: Carla McClafferty

Robert H. and Clarice Smith Auditorium

Mount Vernon welcomes author Carla McClafferty to the Robert H. and Clarice Smith Auditorium to discuss her book for young adults titled Buried Lives: The Enslaved People of George Washington's Mount Vernon on Thursday, April 11, 2019. The event will also feature a presentation from Mount Vernon's archaeology department, highlighting recent discoveries from the Slave Cemetery and about the enslaved population.

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Bonus Ford Evening Book Talk: Lamb, Brinkley, Medford & Smith

Ford Orientation Center

Mount Vernon welcomes authors Brian Lamb, Douglas Brinkley, Edna Greene Medford, and Richard Norton Smith to the Robert H. and Clarice Smith Theater to discuss and debut their book The Presidents: Noted Historians on the Lives and Leadership of America's Best--and Worst--Chief Executives on Tuesday, April 23, 2019.

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Lunch and Fellowship with George Goodwin

Fred W. Smith National Library

Join us for lunch and compelling discussion with a member of our 2018-19 class of research fellows as he discusses his research topic George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and the Propaganda and Intelligence War in the British Isles and Europe During the American Revolution on Thursday, May 23, 2019. A boxed lunch will be provided.

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The 2019 Mount Vernon Symposium

In 1790, George Washington tasked Gouverneur Morris, the American minister to France, to purchase a variety of fashionable French objects for decorating his presidential dining table. In making selections, Morris wrote that it was imperative “to fix the taste of our Country properly,” and that grounding the new nation in the classical tradition, which has “been fashionable above two thousand years,” was the means to achieve this.

These men and their contemporaries inhabited a world heavily influenced by ancient Rome and Greece. Classical references permeated their societies in everything from government to education, from drama to literature. With the archaeological discoveries of Pompeii and Herculaneum and the widespread popularity of Andrea Palladio’s designs, the realms of art and architecture also came to be dominated by classical forms and motifs. Washington himself embraced the classical spirit, and with his design for Mount Vernon’s “New Room,” took the lead in introducing neoclassicism to America. Join leading curators, historians, and art and architectural historians as they examine a wide variety of Greco-Roman styles, influences, references, and forms that early Americans admired and celebrated.

The Mount Vernon Symposium is endowed by the generous support of The Robert H. Smith Family Foundation, Lucy S. Rhame, The Felicia Fund, The Sachem Foundation, and Mr. and Mrs. Frank Mauran IV.

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Ford Evening Book Talk: Xavier F. Salomon

Mount Vernon welcomes author Xavier F. Salomon to the Robert H. and Clarice Smith Auditorium to discuss his book Canova's George Washington on Tuesday, June 4, 2019. Tickets for this program will be available starting on Friday, April 12, 2019.

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Ford Evening Book Talk: Brad Meltzer

Mount Vernon welcomes author Brad Meltzer to the Robert H. and Clarice Smith Auditorium to discuss his book The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington on Wednesday, June 26, 2019. Tickets for this program will be available starting on Wednesday, May 8, 2019

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Harpsichord Symposium

Robert H. and Clarice Smith Auditorium

A musical revolution took place in the late eighteenth century, in which Mount Vernon played a little known, but remarkable role. As pianos were becoming the domestic keyboard instrument of choice, George Washington purchased a large, state-of-the-art harpsichord. Surprisingly, the instrument arrived years after he traded in Martha’s old spinet for a newly popular piano-forte, which arrived in time for young Eleanor (Nelly) Parke Custis to begin piano lessons with the celebrated composer Alexander Reinagle. Why was a fine harpsichord chosen as Mount Vernon’s principal keyboard instrument even after updating to a new piano?

Join an international roster of performers and historians as they explore and revive the music of Mount Vernon, and particularly its fascinating keyboard instruments. The inspiration for the symposium is Nelly's original two-manual harpsichord along with a newly made reproduction by John Watson, which brings to life a musical voice not heard in the Mansion for more than two centuries. Learn how harpsichords evolved with new expressive qualities designed to serve the changing music of the time and experience why a full-featured harpsichord deserved its place at Mount Vernon.

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Ford Evening Book Talk: Ryan Cole

Robert H. and Clarice Smith Auditorium

Mount Vernon welcomes author Ryan Cole to the Robert H. and Clarice Smith Auditorium to discuss his book Light-Horse Harry Lee: The Rise and Fall of a Revolutionary Hero on Tuesday, August 13, 2019. Tickets for this program will be available starting on Wednesday, June 5, 2019.

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