Dressed for the Times

Perhaps, as is said, clothes make the man. But antique clothes make an even more fascinating historical statement about their times. They show what people considered beautiful, how they shaped and enhanced their bodies, which fabrics were popular and what technologies were available to cut and sew garments. "Revealing Fashions" is a new exhibit at Colonial Williamsburg's DeWitt Wallace Gallery and focuses on clothing from 1750 to 1790.

About 80 antique costumes are displayed, ranging from women's brocade gowns and men's silk coats to buttons, bows, buckles and laces that embellished them. Many of the pieces are displayed to expose the linings and construction techniques as well as the cutting plan.

The gallery, on Francis Street near Merchants Square in Williamsburg, is open daily 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is included with a ticket to Colonial Williamsburg. 757-220-7724.


Russia has one of the world's oldest and most extensive systems of protected wilderness areas, called zapovedniks, which shelter much of the vast nation's biodiversity. Margaret Williams, a World Wildlife Fund coordinator, is to present "Conserving Russia's Wild Frontiers," a slide-illustrated lecture introducing the expanses of Russia's wilderness -- home to the endangered Siberian tiger and Stellar's sea eagle, among other species. The talk, which is to include conservation issues being confronted by Russia, is scheduled tomorrow, 8 p.m., at the Smithsonian's National Zoological Park. The lecture is free, but reservations are required. 202-673-4801.


Learn about owls who live in Rock Creek Park tomorrow, 4 p.m. It's one of many free programs scheduled at the Rock Creek Park Nature Center and Planetarium, including history hikes, animal adaptations and sky watching. The center, at 5200 Glover Rd. NW, off Military Road, is open Wednesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 202-426-6828.


Learn about atomic structure, spectra and applications in the latest "Physics is Phun" program at the University of Maryland's College Park campus. Designed for high school students, the free program is scheduled Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Jan. 13-14-15, 7:30 p.m. Snow dates are Jan. 20-21-22. From Beltway Exit 25, go south 1.9 miles on Route 1. Turn right on Campus Drive and drive one long block, bearing right at the "BIG M" traffic circle. Lectures are in the Physics Department 100 meters on the right. Free parking is available at any non-metered space in the top levels of garage PG2 across the street. 301-405-5994.


Capital Children's Museum has a number of planned activities this month, including several at the Chemical Science Center. On Sunday, Jan. 16, visitors can discover the chemistry of ordinary household items, and on Sunday, Jan. 30, learn about conservation of energy and various other properties of pendulums. Both programs are offered in four sessions: 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. for ages 4 to 7, and noon and 3 p.m. for 8 and older. Admission to the museum, which covers the cost of the events, is $6 for adults and $4 for senior citizens. Children 2 and under and members are free. Half-price admission is available Sundays before noon. The museum, at 800 Third St. NW, behind Union Station, is open daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 202-675-4120.


The Newseum is celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday with guest speaker Juan Williams, author of Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965, on Sunday, Jan. 16, 12:30 p.m. Other activities on this Family Day include broadcast studio tours and hands-on activities in the Education Center. The Newseum, at 1101 Wilson Blvd. in Arlington, is open Wednesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. 703-284-3544.


As part of its series exploring some of this hemisphere's greatest natural places and the animals that live there, the Audubon Naturalist Society is to present "The Dancing Birds of Monteverde." It's a discussion by Earthwatch researcher David McDonald of the University of Wyoming on the cooperative mating system of the long-tailed manakins who live in Costa Rica's Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. It's scheduled Monday, Jan. 17, 6 p.m., at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. Tickets are $14 for adults and $7 for children. Registration is required. 202-357-3030.


Discover how the ends of your chromosomes, called telomeres, are copied by a molecular machine, distinct from other replication machines in the chromosome, that may affect aging and cancer. Thomas Cech, Nobel laureate and president of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, is to present a free lecture called "Life at the Ends of Your Chromosomes: How to Stay Forever Young?" The talk is scheduled Thursday, Jan. 20, 5 p.m., at the National Academies of Science Auditorium, 2100 C St. NW. 202-334-2415.


Ben Shneiderman, director of the Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory at the University of Maryland, is to present a free lecture called "The Eyes Have It: User Interfaces for Information Visualization." It's set for Friday, Jan. 21, 10:30 a.m., in the Green Auditorium at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Quince Orchard and Clopper roads, Gaithersburg. 301-975-4203.


Celebrating the 200th anniversary of the move of Congress to the District of Columbia, the National Archives is to open a new exhibit, "Treasures of Congress," on Friday, Jan. 21, in the Rotunda. Among planned exhibit items are the first Journal of the U.S. Senate recording the 1789 electoral vote count of George Washington as president, a 1789 draft of the Bill of Rights containing 17 proposed amendments submitted by the House for Senate consideration and the House roll-call vote on the 1964 civil rights bill outlawing segregation in public places and banning discriminatory practices in employment. The National Archives Building, on Constitution Avenue between Seventh and Ninth Streets NW, is open daily 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. 202-501-5000.


Among programs scheduled at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History on Fridays at noon is a discussion Jan. 21 by Jeheskel Shoshani, founder of the Elephant Research Foundation, on current understandings of the paleoecology, evolution and conservation of elephants. On Friday, Jan. 28, photographer Terry Evans is to talk about her photographic inquiry into prairie landscapes. Both are free. 202-357-2700.


Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, is to discuss her new book for children, The Mystery of Mars, Saturday, Jan. 22, 11 a.m., at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. After the lecture, Ride is to sign copies of the book. On Saturday, Jan. 29, 1 p.m., Richard Kirkland, a former fighter pilot, is to discuss his book, Tales of a War Pilot, featuring stories of American fighter pilots during World War II. Kirkland also is to sign copies of his book. 202-357-2700.


Lowell Kenyon has been photographing Montgomery County for 60 years. As part of its "Images 2000" series, the Montgomery County Historical Society is planning an exhibit of Kenyon's work beginning Sunday, Jan. 23, at the society's museum headquarters, 103 West Montgomery Ave., Rockville. Museum admission is $3 for adults, $2 for seniors and students. 301-340-6534.


Phytoplankton form the base of the marine food web and contribute significantly to global photosynthesis. Because these organisms play such a major role in Earth's climate system, scientists have proposed fertilizing oceans to stimulate phytoplankton growth, thus enhancing fisheries and reducing global warming. On Tuesday, Jan. 25, 6:30 p.m., Sallie W. Chisholm of Massachusetts Institute of Technology is to present "The Invisible Forest: Phytoplankton and Global Change." The free talk is at the Carnegie Institution, 1530 P St. NW, at the corner of 16th and P streets near Dupont Circle Metro station. Seating is limited. 202-328-6988.


Was Robert E. Lee really the great general most historians have deemed him to be? Author Edward Bonekemper doesn't think so and explains why in his new book, How Robert E. Lee Lost the Civil War. On Tuesday, Jan. 25, 6 p.m., Bonekemper is to discuss the book at the Ring Auditorium of the Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. General admission tickets are $13, and reservations are required. 202-357-3030.


The history of coffee, variously banned as a creator of revolution, vilified as unhealthful and praised as the boon of mankind, provides a window through which to view broader themes of colonialism and culture clash, the rise of mass production, women's issues and international commodity schemes. Mark Pendergrast, author of Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World, is to present a free lecture, Thursday, Jan. 27, 8 p.m., at the National Zoo. Reservations are required. At 7 p.m., Pendergrast is to sign copies of his book. 202-673-4801.