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Annual Art Nights Kick Off

Starting tonight, the Smithsonian will begin its annual series of weekly summer special events scheduled for Thursday evenings through the month of July.

For “Art Night on the Mall,” the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art will work in conjunction with the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden to host art enthusiasts into the lingering hours of the day.

The Smithsonian will kick off this summer series at 7 p.m. with “The Laughing Buddha Film Series,” which will feature a 94-minute film and a lecture by Gaetano Kazuo Maida, the executive director of the International Buddhist Film Festival.

Every following Thursday will provide a variety of entertaining activities, which will encompass everything from outdoor concerts and film nights to twilight tours and the opportunity to create artwork. Many of the events, like “The Laughing Buddha Film Series” are the first of a series that will continue to run in the days following the presentation by Art Night on the Mall.

The Hirshhorn Museum is one of many art galleries working with Viva Mexico, a summer celebration of Mexican culture, and has subsequently scheduled some programs that are centered on Mexican culture, said Gabriel Einsohn, the communications and marketing coordinator for the museum. The summer series does not have a specific theme, but Mexican culture has been integrated into some of the events such as next Thursday night’s Mexican horror film, “La Cabeza Viviente (The Living Head).” Otherwise, the events center on the current themes of the Smithsonian. “We always try to link the programs to the exhibitions and current collections in the museum,” Einsohn said.

Some of the events have attracted guest lecturers and others are presented by employees of the Smithsonian, but all programs scheduled for Art Night on the Mall are free.

Many of the events are featured as family activities; for example, next Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m., the Hirshhorn will present the first “Improv Art Family Program” which will continue every Thursday until the end of July. This program teaches families various artistic techniques in sculpture and then staff members help interested participants to produce some of their own art.

There is a schedule of the summer series on the Smithsonian’s Web site, Some of the programs are subject to change, and visitors who are interested should call the Smithsonian for updated information.