Saturday, November 17, 2001

The National Museum of Natural History will continue its holiday tradition of extended hours on Fridays, packed with music, film and food.

The “Friday Night Holiday Festival” starts next week and continues until Dec. 28. The entire museum, on 10th Street and Constitution Ave. NW, will stay open until 9 p.m. Admission to the museum is free, while tickets for films range from $8 to $11.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for families and working people to come and enjoy the museum in the evening. It’s especially nice for those who don’t get away during the holiday season,” museum spokeswoman Jackie Corbett says.

The festival, in its third year, has been a “great success,” she says.

At 5:45 p.m. and 8 p.m. each Friday, the museum will show “Cirque du Soleil Journey of Man,” which tells the story of human development from birth to maturity in 3-D with the help of the celebrated acrobatic and musical troupe, the Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil.

“The movie is unbelievable,” says Mary Combs, spokeswoman for the Smithsonian Institution. “When I saw it there were gasps all over in the audience.”

Among the acts are the Taiko Drummers, appearing as prehistoric cave dwellers and pounding the sound of a newborn’s heartbeat. Later, to show the bond and love between man and woman, two statues come alive in a 17th-century garden.

The final stop on man’s journey is the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, meant to symbolize hope for the future of mankind.

At 7 and 9 p.m., the museum will show MacGillivray Freeman’s “Everest,” the true story of the 1996 Everest Film Expedition. The team ascended the mountain just days after fellow mountaineers and friends perished there.

The last show of the evening is the 10 p.m. performance of the Rolling Stones “At the Max,” the first feature-length, large-format concert film. It was made in 1991 in London, Berlin and Turin, Italy, and shows the Stones during their “Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle” 1990 Tour. The film includes such hits as “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and “Start Me Up.”

Some reviewers have said that aside from being a great documentary, the film provides an excellent opportunity to see Mr. Jagger’s larger-than-life lips appear four or five feet across the screen, smiling and grimacing.

In addition to the films and regular exhibits, the museum will offer a special holiday menu at its Atrium Cafe from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Strolling musicians will entertain throughout the museum.

For more information, call 202/357-2700.

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