Free and Fun Duke Summertime Events

From Smart Home tours to documentary exhibits, experience Duke's versatility at no cost

The Duke Smart Home, which is the first LEED Platinum building on Duke's campus, was built in 2007. Duke groups are invited to request tours of the 6,000-square-foot live-in laboratory. Photo courtesy of Duke Smart Home

During a recent tour of the Duke Smart Home, Juli Cooney marveled at the details of the sustainable structure from the corkboard flooring to the drought tolerant vegetated roof.

She and colleagues from Duke's Office of University Development signed up for a free summer tour of the Smart Home to learn more about Duke's green research.

"I'm learning so much about Duke and Durham, and I'm from here and have always been active in town," said Cooney, a stewardship coordinator for Development. "This was fascinating to me."

Duke staff and faculty can beat the heat without breaking the bank by trying these free and interesting things to do at Duke during the summer:

Get creative at the Nasher

The Nasher Museum of Art is offering summer "Make and Take" events on Tuesdays (10 a.m. to noon) and Thursdays (5 to 7 p.m.). Duke employees and students with a valid DukeCard ID receive free museum admission and can participate in arts and crafts tables themed around an art piece on display, said Jessica Ruhle, Nasher associate curator of education.

The "Make and Take" series runs to Aug. 14 and is part of Nasher's "Summer Days, Nasher Nights" schedule, which presents book discussions, guest chefs and artists every week.

"It's an opportunity in an adult's day to pull out the pipe cleaners and markers and just enjoy a little bit of time to be creative," Ruhle said.

Upcoming Make and Take events are June 24 and 26 and will involve whirligig art projects.

Tour the Smart Home

Duke groups are invited to request tours of the 6,000-square-foot Duke Smart Home live-in laboratory. Ten Duke students are living in the Smart Home, a research program sponsored by the Pratt School of Engineering, and conducting research on sustainable practices and technology during the summer.

The Smart Home, which is the first LEED Platinum building on Duke's campus, was built in 2007. Visitors can learn about the home's solar hot water, computerized lighting system and more.

"You'll see a lot of examples of different technologies," said Jim Gaston, director of the Duke Smart Home Program. "Down to every nut or bolt has some sort of sustainable and energy-efficient feature to it. With Duke's emphasis on becoming carbon neutral by 2024, Duke has done many things across campus on a large scale to make the university more efficient."

Request a tour online.

Listen to the Duke Chapel organ

Walk into Duke Chapel and sit in the pews around lunchtime, and a volunteer organist will be playing the massive 1976 Flentrop organ above the great arch.

Organ demonstrations are usually scheduled for 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. on weekdays.

"It is certainly a fine way to spend a lunch break … to hear a range of music that is joyous or music that is ponderous, just the whole range of what the organ can do," said Rob Horton, interim Chapel organist.

Call Visitor Services at Duke Chapel at (919) 684-2572 to check if an organist is playing on the day of your visit.

Sync summer reads to mobile devices

Duke staff, faculty and students can now check out e-books and audiobooks on their personal smartphones or tablets. The new service, called Duke OverDrive, is offered through Duke University Libraries and Fuqua School of Business' Ford Library.

Employees can browse through hundreds of titles and check out up to five e-books/audiobooks at a time using their Duke NetID and password.

In addition to digital books, Duke community members can borrow from a collection of recently released movies and TV series, known as devilDVDs. Current titles include House of Cards, Captain Phillips and Dallas Buyers Club.

Experience documentary art

The gallery at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke is open Monday through Saturday in the summer and is showing "Hard Art, DC 1979," a collection of black-and-white photographs that detail the hardcore punk scene in Washington D.C., on the eve of the Reagan presidency.

CDS also is presenting a free artist's reception on Aug. 15 at the American Tobacco Campus Power Plant Gallery. "The North Wind and the Sun" exhibit shows an ongoing investigation of Siler City's economic and demographic transition through video, photographs and mixed media installation.

For gallery hours, visit the CDS website.