- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 31, 2001

A strip of the National Mall will be bustling tonight with activities, arts, music and food for all ages, promise organizers of Art Night on the Mall, a Smithsonian Institution program in which several museums are extending their hours until 8 p.m. on Thursdays throughout the summer.
"People should attend so they can have an evening of pure fun and entertainment and a little bit of learning, too," says Roslyn Walker, director of the National Museum of African Art, one of the participating museums.
For the sixth summer, four international art museums the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Freer Gallery of Art, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and the National Museum of African Art — are extending their hours through Aug. 30 with special programs and workshops.
All activities and museums are located between Seventh Street and 12th Street along Independence Avenue SW.
One of the activities, labeled "Masked Spirits," is a workshop for children on how to make masks. It will be held July 19 and 26 and Aug. 2 and 9 at 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. at the National Museum of African Art.
The educational portion consists of a tour inside the museum, which displays masks representing ancestors, helpful spirits and historical figures from countries including Nigeria, Angola and Gabon.
"Sometimes the mask teaches a moral principle; sometimes its worn on a different body part from the face. There are many different types of masks," Mrs. Walker says.
While the workshop is geared toward children ages 6 through 13, creative parents will not be turned away, Mrs. Walker promises.
The Art Night also will feature live music, including traditional Cambodian music and dance, Indian rock fusion and Chinese jazz fusion.
Film offerings include Latin films at the Hirshhorn Museum, a Hong Kong movie series at the Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art and films relating to current exhibitions of pottery and modern African art at the National Museum of African Art.
"The program provides extra hours to stir the soul andinspire the imagination, not just with precious objects and visionary art from many continents in our four museums, but with a menu of events, activities, diversions and learning experiences that will have wide appeal," Thomas Lentz, director of the Smithsonians International Art Museum Division, said in a prepared statement.
Food will include Asian and African fare served at Haupt Garden behind the Smithsonian Castle. Another possible food stop with a wide range of culinary treats will be the Hirshhorn Museums Full Circle Cafe, organizers say.
"I say, leave the picnic baskets behind and try something different," Mrs. Walker suggests. "Let this be a summer to try new things."
All Art Night programs are free and open to the public. In the event of rain, programs will be moved indoors.
The other Smithsonian museums will continue their regular hours, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., during the summer.
For more information, call 202/357-2700. For a complete schedule of events, see www.si.edu/activity/artnight.


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