Tag Archives: Johnson IMAX Theater

Weekend Picks

The museums are heavy on special family activities this weekend, but with the glorious weather forecast for the next few days, I’ve got several suggestions to get you outdoors, too.   Happy Weekend!

Family Day: Kites of AsiaGo fly a kite! And make one, too. This free event at the National Air & Space Museum on Saturday welcomes guests to discover the artistry of kites from across Asia. Indoor kite flying, story telling, and hands-on art activities, kite-making included, are on the day’s agenda.  The event runs from 10am – 3pm.

Take a Hike – It’s going to be excellent weather for tramping in the woods, though be choosy about where you go — I heard the line of cars waiting to get into the Maryland side of Great Falls last weekend was all the way out to MacArthur Boulevard.  For more suggestions on where to walk in the woods, including several that don’t attract large crowds, check out this post about good area hikes with kids.

Goya: Awakened in a DreamThe National Gallery of Art’s Film Program for Children and Teens presents a movie about the artist Goya this week. Recommended for ages 7 and up, the screening will take place in the East Building Concourse auditorium at 10:30am on Saturday and 11:30am on Sunday.  The program is free, and seating is offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

Everyone’s PlaygroundEnjoy the sunshine and one of the best playgrounds in the area. If you have young children, and you haven’t been to Clemyjontri Park, I highly recommend taking them there.  The play possibilities will seem endless to little ones.  The carousel doesn’t open for another couple of weeks, but kids will be so enchanted with other parts of the park, they won’t miss riding the wooden horses.

Mail FemalesDiscover the history of women who have played important roles in the nation’s mail service.  The National Postal Museum is hosting Women’s History Month Family Day from 11am – 3pm on Saturday.  Guests can hear stories about postal women and try their hand at some of the jobs they performed.

DC United Opening DayKick off the start of the soccer season at RFK on Saturday evening.  Tickets are still available for the 7:30pm game, including a couple of packages that come with freebies when you buy at least four tickets.  For more information, see this post from a couple of days ago.

Reptile & Amphibian DayLearn about reptiles and their important role in the ecosystem at this annual event at the National Aquarium. On Sunday from 10am – 4pm, guests can enjoy a variety of activities, including storytime and fun crafts.  Aquarium staff will be on hand to answer questions and give talks throughout the day. Special highlights: The alligator exhibit and a shark feeding at 2pm. The event is free with admission – $9.95/ages 11 and up, 4.95/ages 3-11, children under 3 are free.

Picnic, Play, & PlanesHave you been to Gravelly Point, the small park along the GW Parkway next to Ronald Reagan Airport?  The beautiful spot along the river is nice place to spread out a picnic, people watch, and kick around a soccer ball  — if you really like airplanes.  I have to warn about this one:  it’s hit or miss with kids (and adults, for that matter).  The park is located just beyond the airport runway, so planes take off or land (depending on which way they are going that day) literally right overhead. That’s the hit or miss part.  It’s loud and potentially scary for those who don’t like the looks of a plane coming right at them, but quite exciting for those that love a thrill.

Portrait Story DaysDrop in at the National Portrait Gallery anytime from 1-4pm on Sunday to listen to a story about a person who has influenced American history and culture and to create a special piece of art. Rachel Carson, founder of the modern environmental movement, will be the subject this weekend.

CHAW Artday Concert – Catch a free Singing Lizard concert on Saturday morning at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop. The Singing Lizard’s live shows are fast-paced, fun, and full of exciting songs that both kids and adults enjoy. The concert is from 10-11am in CHAW’s Black Box Theater.

On the Big Screen – Rain or shine, an IMAX film is great entertainment. Both the Johnson IMAX Theater at the Natural History Museum and Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater at the Air & Space Museum have several movies playing all weekend.  For a couple of reviews, see my post about Arabia 3D and another one about Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk 3D.

Live Entertainment – A few new theater and musical shows recently opened on local stages.  This post about spring entertainment from last week has info on what and who’s playing and where.  Also be sure to check this post from a couple of months ago listing winter productions, several of which are still running.

Stories in ArtSculptor David Smith is again the subject for this week’s children’s program at the National Gallery of Art. The workshop will start with a reading of “Half of the Elephant,” about an elephant on a humorous journey to find his missing half.. From there, the group will explore the work of David Smith, then build a sculpture with wood and metal. Hour-long sessions begin at 11:30am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm, and 2:30pm on Sunday. Sign-in will take place in the East Building Atrium, beginning at 11am that day and will continue until all spaces are filled.  No admission fee required.

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Filed under All ages, Art, DC, Educational, Free, Live Entertainment, Movies, Museums, Music, Outdoor, Play, Weekend

A 3D Journey through Arabia

One of the best, most defining things about IMAX movies is that feeling of being there — at the location, amid the action, immersed in the context of both the movie and the onscreen environment.  This bodes well for Arabia 3D, a film that virtually transports the audience across the globe in exploration of the land, culture, and history of the Arabian Peninsula.

A camel caravan through the Saudi Arabian desert

Arabia 3D, opening at the Smithsonian’s Johnson IMAX Theater this Friday, February 18, follows Saudi Arabian film student, Hamzah Jamjoom, in his return home from studying in the United States as he makes a film about his heritage.  Through present-day documentary of his life there along with historical re-enactments and computer-generated graphics, we get a glimpse into a culture and country that, for many of us, feels like a world (and literally is half-a-world) away.

Perhaps the most striking element of the film, both visually and conceptually, is the contrast of the vast desert landscape with the grand, flourishing metropolis of contemporary Saudi Arabia.  It’s especially interesting when you consider the region’s history – Islamic  culture dates back well over a thousand years, yet the country itself is practically brand new, having been founded in 1932.

The film does a good job of presenting both the past and present, shifting between Jamjoom’s own modern life as he examines his country’s roots and recreations of ancient times that focus mainly on Arabia’s two Golden Ages of wealth and knowledge.

The Hajj, Mecca

This journey through time is also interspersed with smart animated graphics that illustrate geographical transitions and Arabia’s contributions to the arts and sciences (you can thank the Muslims for that 7th grade Algebra class).  There are also some incredible scenes that take viewers below the Red Sea in search of sunken ships, across the desert on a camel caravan and into a Bedouin tent, and along the streets of today’s Saudi Arabia.

But the most captivating scene — hands down — is the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca where more than three million Muslims congregate to worship. Arabia 3D captures the moment in a way I’ve never seen any news outlet do before.  An aerial view coveys the magnitude of the event, showing rows upon rows of people donned in white robes circling the Kaaba as they pray.  When a low roar erupted through the sound system, I thought for a second there was a problem with the audio, until I realized it was the sound of three million people moving in unison as they knelt and bowed in religious ritual. It is truly an extraordinary scene.

Filmmaker Hamzah Jamjoom

This is all narrated by Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren, along with Jamjoon, whose dream is to help pioneer a new film industry in Saudi Arabia and make films about his people.  He’s already made huge strides  — Arabia 3D is the first film to be shot from start to finish in his country.

Arabia 3D will open at the National Museum of Natural History’s Johnson IMAX Theater on February 18.  Tickets are $9 and can be purchased in advance online or at the box office.  Recommended for ages 10 and up.


Filed under DC, Educational, Movies, Museums, Preteens, Tweens