Winter Speaker Series 2023 – Virtual Subscription

January 21, 2023 2:00 pm In person at the Museum, and Virtually on Zoom

Welcome to the 95th Annual Winter Speaker Series! Subscribe & enjoy one lecture free!

Saturdays, January 21 – February 25, 2023 at 2 pm

Please note In Person Subscriptions are SOLD OUT. Join us virtually instead!

Since 1928, the Winter Speaker Series has been a cornerstone of the Newport Art Museum’s annual programming. Each year the Winter Speaker Series Committee and Museum staff curate this series to reflect the ideas of our times to educate, illuminate, delight and inspire. This Series, incredibly in its 95th year, promises engaging conversations on a variety of topics. From the halls of government and the current political scene to the mysteries of the universe, from actor Anthony Quinn’s artistic life and legacy to the compelling story of Belle da Costa Greene, the first curator of the Morgan Library, we’ll take a vicarious trip to Florence Italy, and a quiet walk in the woods. Intrigued?

Held in person at the Museum AND streamed live via Zoom, our thought-provoking talks will be accessible to you, wherever you happen to be!

All Lectures will be recorded for later viewing by subscribers and ticket holders.

Each lecture will be followed by audience Q&A and continued conversation in the galleries over hot tea, coffee, scrumptious light fare, and desserts, generously provided by Pranzi Catering.

Meet Our Speakers

January 21: Darrell West

Vice President and Senior Fellow of Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution
“Deciphering the Political Environment”

The United States faces a difficult situation both in terms of domestic and foreign policy. At home, inflation remains stubbornly high, there are conflicts over abortion, government spending, and climate change, and people are divided about basic goals and priorities. Globally, the Ukraine War continues and there are worries about the role of China in the international system. In this talk, Darrell West of the Brookings Institution will decipher the current political environment and discuss what lies ahead for Congress and the country as a whole. He will analyze political divisions and how the nation can deal with its pressing problems.

January 28: Monica Young

News Editor, Sky & Telescope Magazine
“The Art & Science of the James Webb Space Telescope”

The James Webb Space Telescope is a feat of engineering and a long-awaited stride forward in many areas of astronomy. Communicating these advances to the public might seem easy when the space telescope is sending down awe-inspiring images of newborn stars, tenuous dust, and distant galaxies nearly every day. But these images are not showing visible light — they’re taken at infrared wavelengths — and there are many decisions made behind the scenes in order to convey the data in a meaningful way. We will take a deep dive into some of the beautiful images and other data coming from Webb to learn about the birth of new stars today and the dawn of galaxies long ago.

February 4: Rocky Ruggiero, Ph.D.

Art History Professor and Italian Renaissance Expert
“Brunelleschi’s Basilica: The Building of Santo Spirito in Florence”

Brunelleschi’s Basilica of Santo Spirito in Florence, Italy, is one of the defining architectural works of the Renaissance. The building of this great church was a perfect historical storm – a celebrity architect, who was bordering on apotheosis as he neared the completion of the dome of Florence cathedral; a district of well-known, wealthy and competitive patrons hoping to assert themselves and their families through chapel patronage within the church; an uncertain architectural inheritance left by Brunelleschi upon his death; strong-minded and hard-willed successors of the architect at the worksite; and citywide factionalism championing and repudiating Brunelleschi’s alleged design intentions for the church. In this lecture, Dr. Rocky will untangle this web of artistic and historical factors that contributed to shaping Santo Spirito based on the findings of his recent book “Brunelleschi’s Basilica: The Building of Santo Spirito in Florence.”

February 11:  Philip Palmer, Ph.D.

Robert H. Taylor Curator and Department Head, Literary and Historical Manuscripts, The Morgan Library & Museum
“Belle da Costa Greene: A Librarian’s Legacy”

Belle da Costa Greene (1879–1950) was one of the most prominent librarians in American history. She ran the Morgan Library for forty-three years—initially as the private librarian of J. Pierpont Morgan and then his son, Jack, and later as the inaugural director of the Pierpont Morgan Library (now the Morgan Library & Museum). Not only did Greene build one of the most important collections of rare books and manuscripts in the United States, but she also transformed an exclusive private collection into a major public resource, originating the robust program of exhibitions, lectures, publications, and research services that continues today.

The Morgan Library & Museum will open a major retrospective exhibition on Belle Greene in the fall of 2024. The show’s curatorial lead, Philip S. Palmer, will speak about Greene’s storied life and career, from her roots in a predominantly Black community in Washington, D.C., to her distinguished career at the helm of one of the world’s great research libraries. Philip will preview a selection of objects appearing in the show, discuss two projects related to Belle Greene’s letters, and explore her enduring legacy as a cultural heritage executive.

February 18: Gary Casabona

Wildlife Biologist
“Creating and Managing Habitat for Native Bees and Monarch Butterfly”

Did you know that biologists estimate there are over 200 different species of native bees in Rhode Island? Gary Casabona’s talk will cover the life cycles of several native bee families and the Monarch butterfly along with their relationships with native plants for pollen, nectar, and nesting sites. The talk will emphasize recommendations on the best native shrubs and herbaceous plants to support our declining species of pollinators as well as practical advice on site prep, seeding, and habitat maintenance. Gary will also discuss the value of some of the recommended plant species for other wildlife, including migratory songbirds.

February 25: Katherine Quinn

Founder and President of the Anthony Quinn Foundation
“The Creative Genius of Anthony Quinn. Searching for Self, Love, and Permanence through Art”

Anthony Quinn was a complex man who was no stranger to extreme poverty and prejudice. He lost his father in a tragic accident at a young age and for financial reasons was never able to complete high school. Despite the challenging circumstances, he went on to become one of the most recognized actors of his time. Less known was his extraordinary talent as an artist. He sketched from a very young age and aspired to become a great architect. Although life took him down a different career path, creating artwork remained his first love. Over the years he made hundreds of drawings and paintings and then in his 50’s, he began sculpting, during his struggle to find the essence of the character of Zorba. Making art was not a hobby for him – it was a need that came from the deepest part of his soul. Sometimes it tormented him and other times it gave him solace.  Either way, it kept him grounded and helped him work through some of his most complicated emotional struggles. In this presentation, Katherine will share stories of Anthony Quinn’s life as an artist along with images of his work and photos from his creative archives.


Image credits:
Tarantula Nebula, NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team
Adolph de Meyer, Belle da Costa Greene, 1912. Biblioteca Berenson, I Tatti, The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies.

Become a Member and Save!

Among many benefits, Museum members save on Winter Speaker Series tickets.

Our Generous Supporters:

Series Sponsors:

Lockett Ford Ballard, Jr., in memory of Margaret “Mida” Stokes Ballard
Johanna & Ronald Becker
Johanna Becker, in memory of Ronald Becker
Dr. Joseph Chazan
Mary Jennings
Linda McGoldrick
Chas Miller & Birch Coffey
Santiago & Maureen Neville
Edwina Sebest
Cynthia Sinclair
The Hope Foundation

Series Supporters:
Linda Jenkins
Susan & Robert Kieronski

Catering and Speaker Accommodations:


Winter Speaker Series Committee

Johanna Becker, Chair
Cristin Searles Bilodeau, Director of Community Engagement
Eleanor Doumato
Anne DuBose Joslin
Susan Kieronski
Santiago Neville
Kathleen Shinners