Nat Talks and Films

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

Nat Talks are given by Museum scientists and outside experts from around the country who speak on a wide array of topics including the latest in scientific research, history, art, conservation, and the natural world. Lecture topics often coincide with the latest exhibitions at the Museum. The 2017-2018 season of Nat Talks is made possible with support from media partner KPBS.



Upcoming Events


Reel Science Film Series: The Matrix

Friday, May 25, 2018 7 PM

As part of a celebration of our first Balboa Park After Dark event of the summer, we present classic science fiction film, The Matrix, with contextualized and corrective feedback about its scientific themes. The series is a collaboration between The Nat, Digital Gym Cinema, and the Film Geeks San Diego.

A theatrical blockbuster at the time of its release in 1999, The Matrix proved to be a mind-blowing advancement in cinematic visual effects. Set in the 22nd century, The Matrix tells the story of a computer hacker (Keanu Reeves) who joins a group of underground insurgents fighting the vast and powerful computers who now rule the earth. In addition to amazing effects, the stellar cast, including Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, and Joe Pantoliano, helped make The Matrix a modern sci-fi classic.

Introduction and contextualized and corrective commentary will be provided by USD physicist Dr. Daniel Sheehan.

This event is part of the first night of Balboa Park After Dark, where The Nat stays open until 8 PM, and admission is half-price after 5 PM. If you’d like access to the entire Museum PLUS the Reel Science film screening, tickets are $12 for adults and $9 for members. If you want to visit the Museum but do not want access to the film screening, standard admission rates apply (after 5 PM, tickets are half off general admission rates). The Flying Squirrel Café and the rooftop bar will be open before the film.

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Nat Talk: Unnatural Selection: Evolution at the Hand of Man

Tuesday, June 19, 2018 7 PM

Join us for a talk by author and illustrator Katrina Van Grouw about her work celebrating Darwin’s theory of evolution.

When Charles Darwin contemplated how best to introduce his controversial new theory of evolution to the masses, he chose to compare it with the selective breeding of domesticated animals. In her new book, Unnatural Selection, which marks the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s great work on domesticated animals in The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, Katrina explains why this analogy was more appropriate than even Darwin had realized. Artificial selection is, in fact, more than just an analogy for natural selection—it is the perfect example of evolution in action.

The talk begins at 7 PM, but Museum doors will open at 5:30 PM. Specimens and drawing supplies will be available from 5:30 to 7 PM giving guests an opportunity to create art inspired by the author’s illustrations. Food and drink are available in The Flying Squirrel Café before the event.

After the talk, join Katrina in our Museum store for a signing of her book, Unnatural Selection.

Tickets to this event go on sale May 8 for members ($9) and May 10 for non-members ($12). You can purchase them online, at the Museum, or by calling 877.946.7797. If you would like early access and discounts for Nat Talks and other events, become a member today.

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Nat Talk: The New Nature Movement with Richard Louv

Tuesday, July 10, 2018 7 PM

There's no denying the benefits of the Internet. But electronic immersion without a force to balance it creates a hole in the boat, draining our ability to pay attention, think clearly, and be productive and creative. To combat these losses, our society seems to look everywhere but the natural domain for the building of better brains.

Join us for a talk by Richard Louv, journalist and author of nine books, including Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. He’ll argue that the more high-tech our lives become, the more nature we need. The ultimate multitasking, according to Richard, is to live simultaneously in both the digital and physical worlds, using computers to maximize our powers to process intellectual data and natural environments to ignite our senses and accelerate our ability to learn and feel—combining the resurfaced “primitive” powers of our ancestors with the digital speed of our teenagers.

The talk begins at 7 PM, but Museum doors will open at 5:30 PM. Food and drink will be available in The Flying Squirrel Café before the event.

After the talk, guests are welcome to join Richard in our Museum store for a signing of his books, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age, and Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life. All titles are available for purchase in the Museum store.

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Nat Talk: Amazing Arachnids

Tuesday, August 14, 2018 7 PM

Arachnids are full of surprises. Scorpions kiss and dance, spitting spiders squirt silk and glue, and vinegaroons spray almost pure acetic acid from their rear ends. At this Nat Talk, Jillian Cowles, author of Amazing Arachnids, will use stunning photographs to show the staggering array of survival strategies that her favorite creatures have developed as they have evolved over the past 400 million years.

The southwestern United States is home to a rich diversity of amazing arachnids. Among their ranks are the tough, the resourceful, the beautiful, and the dangerous. Getting to know these small neighbors which share our planet (and sometimes our homes) is immensely rewarding and never dull. Welcome to the world of arachnids!

The talk begins at 7 PM, but Museum doors will open at 5:30 PM. Food and drinks are available in The Flying Squirrel Café before the event.

After the talk, join Jillian for a book signing in the Museum store, where her book will be available for sale.

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