NATtalks, Films, and Workshops

In the state-of-the-art Charmaine and Maurice Kaplan Theater you can enjoy talks, unique film festivals, film premieres, and more. 


The Museum brings experts from around the country to speak on topics including our natural environment, history, world cultures, and art. Topics often coincide with the latest exhibitions at the Museum. Mark your calendars for the third Tuesday of the month and join us for thoughtful, engaging talks on the latest in scientific research.

The 2016-2017 season of NATtalks is made possible with support from media partner KPBS.

Reel Science: Cult Sci-Fi Films Meet Real Science

This January, join Digital Gym Cinema, Film Geeks, the San Diego Natural History Museum, and a lineup of San Diego scientists for a month-long film series that explores scientific themes in cult cinema and provides audiences with the science behind the fiction. 

Here’s how it works: We’re pairing cult sci-fi favorites with local scientists for an evening of mind-expanding fun. Before each film, a guest scientist will contextualize the scientific themes explored in the movie by providing corrective commentary, explaining what the filmmakers got right and, in some cases, so very wrong, in portraying concepts from the bleeding edge of scientific inquiry.

This program will take place at 7 PM on Saturdays in January, with theNAT and Digital Gym hosting the program on alternating weekends. Dates include: January 7 (Digital Gym), January 14 (theNAT), January 21 (Digital Gym), and January 28 (theNAT).

Upcoming Events

NATtalk: A Walk in the Park with David Vassar

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 7 PM

In celebration of the National Parks Service Centennial, join Academy Award nominee and multiple Emmy Award winning director and writer David Vassar for A Walk in the Park, a retrospective of his filmmaking career spanning four decades. This talk will feature clips and stories from his award-winning films featuring Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and Death Valley National Parks.

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Reel Science: Donnie Darko with Daniel Sheehan

Saturday, January 21, 2017 4 PM

Reel Science pairs cult sci-fi films with local scientists for an evening of mind-expanding fun. On January 21, Digital Gym Cinema presents a time-traveling six-foot monster bunny in cult classic Donnie Darko, with physicist Daniel Sheehan on hand to introduce the film and provide some science behind the fiction. NOTE: This program is hosted at Digital Gym Cinema, 2921 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92104. Tickets available through Digital Gym

Reel Science: Flash Gordon with Michael Wall

Saturday, January 28, 2017 7 PM

Reel Science pairs cult sci-fi films with local scientists for an evening of mind-expanding fun. On January 28, theNAT presents campy sci-fi classic Flash Gordon, with entomologist Michael Wall on hand to introduce the film and provide some science behind the fiction.

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NATtalk: Sex and Nature featuring scientists from the Museum’s Biodiversity Research Center of the Californias

Tuesday, February 21, 2017 7 PM

In honor of Valentine’s Day, join curators from the San Diego Natural History Museum for an amorous and lighthearted discussion about “the birds and the bees.” Most relationships in the natural world don’t start with a Hallmark card, a box of chocolates, or a bouquet of roses. The Museum’s own curators within the Biodiversity Research Center of the Californias (our research hub) will talk about the complex ways mating and reproduction happen in the wild. Tickets available soon. 

NATtalk: Birding in the Age of Dinosaurs with Luis Chiappe

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 7 PM

This talk tells a story of amazing paleontological breakthroughs worldwide. Dr. Luis Chiappe, vice president of research and collections at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and director of the Dinosaur Institute, explains how numerous fossil discoveries of the last few decades have transformed our understanding of the diversity and lifestyles of the birds that lived with the large dinosaurs of the Mesozoic Era. This talk features a remarkable menagerie of fossils—preserved in exquisite detail—which holds the clues for understanding the evolution of the unique adaptations of living birds. Dr. Chiappe is a paleontologist who is best known for his discovery of a massive sauropod nesting site in the badlands of Patagonia in 1997. Tickets available soon. 

NATtalk: Discovering the Amphibians and Reptiles of Baja California

Tuesday, April 18, 2017 7 PM

What makes Baja so special? The mystique of the Baja California peninsula is borne from its complexity and diversity. Join Curator of Herpetology Brad Hollingsworth for an exploration of the region's amphibians and reptiles and gain an appreciation for some of the bizarre traits that emerge from animals evolved in isolation, ready to meet the challenges of the area’s many rugged habitats. Tickets available soon. 

NATtalk: Baja’s Wild Side: Shark Research and Conservation Photography on Baja California's Imperiled Pacific Coast

Tuesday, May 16, 2017 7 PM

Sharks migrating between California and Baja California, Mexico, are threatened by fishing activity in both countries. Join Dr. Daniel Cartamil, shark expert and marine biologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, as he investigates the cross-border movements of these fascinating animals and discusses the issues relevant to the sustainability of our local shark populations. The talk will be illustrated with breathtaking photography from Dr. Cartamil’s upcoming conservation photography book, Baja's Wild Side. Tickets available soon. 

NATtalk: The Sting of the Wild

Tuesday, June 20, 2017 7 PM

Entomologist and Ig Nobel Prize-winner Justin O. Schmidt is on a mission. Some say it’s a brave exploration, others shake their heads in disbelief. His goal? To compare the impacts of stinging insects on humans, mainly using himself as the gauge. In The Sting of the Wild, the colorful Dr. Schmidt takes us on a journey inside the lives of stinging insects, seeing the world through their eyes as well as his own. He explains how and why they attack and reveals the powerful punch they can deliver with a small venom gland and a “sting,” the name for the apparatus that delivers the venom. We learn which insects are the worst to encounter and why some are barely worth considering. Tickets available soon.