WASHINGTON – The Smithsonian Institution in the nation’s capital is all set to celebrate the start of summer with its fifth annual “Solstice Saturday” on June 24. This free, day-long celebration will be replete with exciting parties, engaging programs, and mesmerizing performances throughout its museums on the National Mall.
A collaboration with Hofstra University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, the event coincides with Hofstra’s Astronomy Festival, which will be held across from the National Air and Space Museum from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.
The Arts and Industries Building will serve as the event’s hub, offering detailed schedules and information until 10 p.m. Several museums and gardens will stay open past their usual hours to accommodate the festivities.
The National Museum of the American Indian will extend its hours to 8 p.m. for the occasion. Highlights include performances by Joe Tohonnie Jr. and the Apache Crown Dancers, who have shared their culture and traditions through dance for over two decades. The museum’s interactive space, the ImagiNATIONS Activity Center, will also remain open until 7 p.m., offering young visitors the chance to explore the scientific principles behind Native American ideas that persist in modern life.
Several new exhibitions can be explored at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which is open until 10 p.m. Among the displays are “Afrofuturism: A History of Black Futures” and “Spirit in the Dark: Religion in Black Music, Activism, and Popular Culture.” The museum will also host a conversation on the history of the Black working class featuring Dr. Blair LM Kelley and NPR podcast host Gene Demby.
Also staying open until 10 p.m. are the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and the National Museum of American History, each with unique exhibitions and attractions. Visitors over the age of 12 at the Hirshhorn will need free timed passes to enter “One with Eternity: Yayoi Kusama in the Hirshhorn Collection.”
The National Air and Space Museum, open until 11 p.m., will offer indoor activities such as planetarium shows, trivia challenges, the Air and Space Adventures game, and outdoor activities, including telescope viewing of the night sky.
Two venues are set to remain open until midnight: the National Museum of Asian Art and Enid A. Haupt Garden and the National Museum of Natural History. The former will host performances and provide late-night access to its exhibitions. At the same time, the latter will introduce a unique collection titled “Cellphone: Unseen Connections,” exploring the impact of mobile devices on technology, culture, and the environment.
The National Museum of African Art also promises an unforgettable experience with its ‘Sounds of Africa’ concert series, commencing with a concert and light show at 8 p.m., alongside an afternoon of music, tours, and traditional African games. All galleries will be open until midnight.
Despite the joyous spirit of Solstice Saturday, the Smithsonian Institution has made contingencies for inclement weather. The Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building is designated as the rain location for outdoor activities.
Overall, this promises to be an exciting start to the summer at the Smithsonian Institution, celebrating both its rich heritage and dynamic cultural outreach.