Free “City Nights” Open House Celebrates London at Night
For the first time, the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery is hosting two exhibitions of major artists inspired by the dramatic lights and shadows of night in the late-19th century city. To celebrate, the museum and adjacent Freer Gallery of Art will remain open into the evening Friday, May 2, offering a free open house where visitors can get a sneak preview of “An American in London: Whistler and the Thames,” the largest U.S. display of works by Whistler in almost 20 years, and tour “Kiyochika: Master of the Night,” which showcases startling Japanese woodblock prints of Tokyo from the same time period.
From 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., the garden, gallery and classical courtyard spaces of the Sackler and Freer galleries will transform into Victorian London, embracing the moody evening atmosphere that Whistler treasured. Visitors can don a dandy-worthy hat and moustache and join entertainers in period costume in a stroll through galleries of Whistler’s Nocturnes, listen to music of the late 19th century and watch dramatic readings of Victorian plays performed by local favorite The British Players. Curators will also be on hand to lead tours of both exhibitions, and refreshments by food trucks Tokyo and the City and SUNdeVICH will be available for purchase.
At 8:30 p.m., visitors can then enjoy a free screening of Night and the City, a London-based film noir that kicks off the museum’s Cinema Nocturnes series of films set at night.
“An American in London,” on view May 3–Aug. 17, features changing views of the capital city’s iconic riverbanks and waterways, revealing how Whistler emerged as one of the most innovative and original artists of the 19th century while London evolved into a modern city. The related works in “Kiyochika: Master of the Night,” created by self-taught printmaker Kobayashi Kiyochika, will be on view through July 27.
Other public programs throughout the run of the exhibitions include curator lectures, a webinar about the significance of the night in art and a family art workshop where kids create their own city nightscapes. Click here for a full listing of events.
The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, located at 1050 Independence Avenue S.W., and the adjacent Freer Gallery of Art, located at 12th Street and Independence Avenue S.W., are on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day (closed Dec. 25), and admission is free. The galleries are located near the Smithsonian Metrorail station on the Blue and Orange lines. For more information about the Freer and Sackler galleries and their exhibitions, programs and other public events, visit www.asia.si.edu. For general Smithsonian information, call (202) 633-1000.