Long before Christopher Columbus reached the Bahamas, Portuguese explorers were colonizing islands in the eastern Atlantic and trading in Africa for slaves and gold. Later they reached India, Brazil, China and Japan. All this adventurous traveling and trading led Europeans and their foreign cohorts to create new and hybrid forms of art. Encompassing the Globe: Portugal and the World in the 16th and 17th Centuries, a blockbuster exhibit at the Sackler Gallery that extends into the adjacent National Museum of African Art, reveals the diversity and sometime awkwardness of this cross-cultural interchange. The sprawling, dimly lit show is packed with treasures from nearly every continent, 264 objects that represent the earliest globalists and their encounters with peoples around the world. Hint: Brush up on your geography before you go.
At the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, 1050 Independence Ave. SW. 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily through Sept. 16. Free. 202/633-1000.
— Deborah K. Dietsch
The National Gallery of Art has begun its major retrospective series of the summer, Modernity and Tradition: Film in Interwar Central Europe, which continues with weekend programs through Sept. 2. Intended to supplement a photographic exhibition, "Foto: Modernity in Central Europe, 1918-1945," the film program offers an abundance of rare and legendary titles from the 1920s and '30s. Three selections are scheduled for Saturday afternoon in the auditorium of the East Building: Leni Riefenstahl's The Blue Light at 1 p.m., Paul Fejos' Spring Shower at 2:30 p.m. and Vladislav Vancura's Faithless Marijka at 4 p.m. Paul Leni's Waxworks will be revived on July 22, Michal Waszynski's The Dybbuk on July 29, Walter Ruttmann's Berlin: Symphony of a Big City on Aug. 4 and F.W. Murnau's The Last Laugh on Aug. 18. All programs are free, but an early arrival is often advisable. Fourth Street and Constitution Avenue Northwest. 202/842-6799.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum has announced a pair of free summer movie series. A revival of An American in Paris on Tuesday at 5 p.m. begins a quartet devoted to celebrated film musicals with big cities in their titles. It will be followed by West Side Story, Meet Me in St. Louis and Chicago, also shown on Tuesdays at 5 p.m. A cycle devoted to Westerns begins Aug. 7 with John Ford's The Searchers. McEvoy Auditorium, Eighth and G streets Northwest. 202/633-1000.
— Gary Arnold