The Long Conversation

Don’t miss out! The next Smithsonian Long Conversation will be Friday, December 7, 2018. Stay tuned for this year’s incredible lineup and (free) ticket release dates. 

The Long Conversation is a radical new event that imagines the future. We gather the biggest thinkers we know to have surprising, authentic, unfiltered conversations around the ideas that make them optimistic. Then, we invite a thousand of our closest friends--that’s you--to join in.

NASA astronauts, Grammy-nominated musicians, tech CEOs, artists, hackers, and more converge in the iconic Arts & Industries Building for one night of the year to share the best ideas on the horizon, in an intimate relay race of 15-minute conversations. No moderators. No slides. All chemistry.

A magical setting: Come for the conversations, and then stay for mind-bending art installations, tasty bites from DC’s coolest chefs, and the rare chance to explore the soaring halls of the historic Arts & Industries Building, open just for this event.

Free and open to all: Tickets are free, but will be claimed quickly.

Check out 2017 highlights: See how the Long Conversation is making people “more hopeful about the future,” featuring Yo-Yo Ma, Jose Andres, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, AOL founder Steve Case, “the next Einstein”, and more.


The Long Conversation is an experimental conversational format originated by the Art Angel Longplayer project in London in 2009, and brought to the US by the Long Now Foundation in San Francisco. It is a relay of two-person dialogues for a set period of time, unified by a common prompt. In this case, each participant brings one idea with them about something that makes them optimistic about the future—a trend, an experience, an innovation, a technological breakthrough, a movement. It starts with two people on stage and every 15 minutes, one person leaves and another comes on. Each person is on stage for a total 30 minutes, during which time they have two 15-minute conversations with two people from different backgrounds about their ideas. Think of it as TED Conversations, instead of TED Talks.

AIB is the second oldest Smithsonian building on the National Mall, built in part with the ticket proceeds from the 1876 World’s Fair in Philadelphia, and served as our country’s first National Museum.

Called the “Palace of Invention” or the “Mother of Museums,” it was a grand experiment to showcase the latest ideas that were about to change the world, introducing millions to the steam engine, Thomas Edison’s lightbulb, and Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone. For the next 120 years, its soaring halls and vaulted skylights created the perfect backdrop for a parade of the Smithsonian’s greatest marvels, from dinosaurs to Apollo rockets. Never fully renovated, the building closed to the public in 2004.

As part of its next chapter, a renewed A&I will open occasionally as a space for very special events and exhibitions that share its sense of hope, energy, and possibility.

Learn more here

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