Here are the latest Back Bay - Midtown neighborhood notes:
Traveling tide pools
Educators from the New England Aquarium will visit the Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston St., from 2 to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 17.
Kids, ages 6 – 12, can see and touch hermit crabs, snails, clams, oysters, sea stars and more and learn all about these creatures found in local New England waters. Admission is free.
For more information, call 617-536-5400 or visit firstname.lastname@example.org.
Port of Boston history
William M. Fowler, Jr. will give an illustrated lecture “Boston Looks Seaward: A History of the Port of Boston” from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 20 at the Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston St.
For nearly 400 years, Boston has set her face to the sea. Fowler will explore the evolution of the city’s relation with its oceanic neighbor, first with fishermen and explorers, then settlers and immigrants and in the 19th century Donald McKay built clipper ships in his East Boston yards, who’s sailing records have yet to be broken. Today, Boston continues to look seaward as it embraces its maritime heritage.
Fowler is the author of several books, including “Silas Talbot: Captain of Old Ironsides,” “Under Two Flags: The Navy in the Civil War” and “Jack Tars and Commodores: The American Navy, 1783-1815.”
Admission is free. Visit www.bpl.org or call 617-536-5400 for further information.
Introduction to genealogy
The New England Historic Genealogical Society, 99-101 Newbury St., will host a new visitors’ day at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 20.
This free orientation and tour will introduce resources available at the NEHGS research facility, home to more than 15 million artifacts, books, manuscripts, microfilms, journals, photographs and records to help research family histories. Tour attendees are welcome to use the resources following the tour. Registration is not required.
Further information can be found at www.americanancestors.org or by calling 888-296-3447.
The Massachusetts Historical Society, 1154 Boylston St., will present “Uncivil Society” from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 21. A reception will be held at 5:30 p.m. with the talk at 6 p.m.
American political discourse has become so dysfunctional it is hard to imagine reaching a national consensus on almost anything. Longstanding historical fault lines over income inequality, racial division, gender roles and sexual norms along with starkly different senses of economic opportunity in rural and urban America have fueled a polarized political landscape. Julian E. Zelizer, author of “Fault Lines: A History of the United States Since 1974,” Michael Tomasky, author of “If We Can Keep It: How the Republic Collapsed and How it Might Be Saved” and Robin Young, co-host of “Here & Now” on WBUR and NPR, will discuss how the country got here and if there is a way back.
Admission is free for members and $10 for non-members.
Registration is required, by calling 617-646-0579 or online at www.masshist.org
Steel drums concert
The Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston St., will welcome Jeffrey Clayton of PanNeubean Steel in concert at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 21.
Musician and artist Clayton founded professional Caribbean band PanNeubean to share his passion for music and his Jamaican heritage. PanNeubean Steel showcases the steelpan’s versatility while performing reggae, soca, calypso, African-Caribbean, jazz and classical music styles.
Admission is free. Call 617-859-2382 for further information.
The French Cultural Center and the Consulate General of France in Boston will welcome bestselling author Leïla Slimani from 5 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23 at the center at 55 Marlborough St.
Winner of the Prix Goncourt, France’s most prestigious literary prize, Slimani will visit the center for the American release of “Adèle (Dans le jardin de l’ogre).” She will talk about her latest release and her bestseller “The Perfect Nanny (Chanson douce)” that sold 600,000 copies in its first year of publication.
A Q&A, book signing and reception with light bites will follow the program. Tickets are $8 for members and $16 for non-members. Registration is strongly recommended.
RSVP by calling 617-912-0400 or online at www.frenchculturalcenter.org.
The 10th annual South Asian Showdown will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23 at the John Hancock Hall, 180 Berkeley St.
The best Fusion and Bollywood/Hindi-Film dance teams from all over North America and Canada will compete to be crowned the showdown champion. Fusion is a combination of any dance style set to a majority of Indian music. Bollywood/Hindi-Film is based on the Bollywood film style of dance featuring expression, theme and storyline. This is one of the largest South Asian events held in the northeast region of America and one of the top dance competitions in North America.
Tickets range from $25 to $100 for VIP seating. 821 Washington St. Tickets are $25.
To purchase tickets, visit www.southasianshowdown.com or call 617-448-2508.
Boston portraits and landscapes
The French Cultural Center, 53 Marlborough St., is displaying “French Eyes on Boston,” portraits and landscapes by Marguerite Wibaux, now through Feb. 28.
Wibaux’s landscapes marry the Renaissance perspective tradition with an American expressionist approach. The paintings engage with the artist’s perceptions of various points of view in Boston.
The landscape series explores various mediums and techniques, mixing oil and spray paint with acrylic and collage.
Wibaux’s work also explores Boston’s youth through portraiture. These paintings aim to pay tribute to a rich diversity of styles, personalities, genres, origins and cultures in a visually thriving and energizing series.
The exhibition is free, but reservations are required. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.
For more information and to make a reservation, call 617-912-0400 or visit www.frenchculturalcenter.org.
The New England Watercolor Society is presenting its 2019 signature members’ show and sale at the Guild of Boston Artists, 162 Newbury St., now through March 4. Gallery hours are from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays through Saturdays and noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays.
Gallery talks will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturdays, with Gary Tucker on Feb. 16, Ann Hart on Feb. 23 and Kristin Stashenko on March 2.
Painting demonstrations will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. on Sundays featuring Robert Mesrop on Feb. 17 and Ann Trainor Dominque on Feb. 24.
The New England Watercolor Society was founded in 1885 and is one of the oldest and most prestigious watercolor societies in America.
For more information, visit www.newenglandwatercolorsociety.org.
Emmanuel Church, 15 Newbury St., is presenting its 42nd season of the J. S. Bach Cantatas at 10 a.m. on Sundays now through May 20.
The orchestra and chorus of Emmanuel Music will present weekly performances of the cantatas and motets of J.S. Bach and others, conducted by Ryan Turner.
For more information, call 617-536-3356 or visit www.emmanuelmusic.org.
The Massachusetts Historical Society, 1154 Boylston St., will host tours of the collections of the society at 10 a.m. on Saturdays.
Led by an MHS staff member or docent, the 90-minute tour focuses on the history and collections of the MHS.
The tour is free and open to the public. Reservations are not required for individuals or small groups. Parties of eight or more should contact the MHS.
Further information can be found at www.masshist.org or by calling 617-646-0560.
Boston Public Library volunteers will give art and architecture tours of the McKim Building, a National Historic Landmark, in its main building, constructed in 1895, throughout the week.
Highlights include the murals of John Singer Sargent, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and Edwin Austin Abbey and the work of architect Charles Follen McKim.
Self-guided tours are available as well, and literature describing the architectural highlights is available on the web at www.bpl.org/central/tours.htm.
For tours by appointment, call 617-536-5400.