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After Hours at the Phillips Collection, American Art Museum and National Zoo

Friday, July 17, 2009

What else is happening after hours?

-- The Phillips Collection launched its Phillips After 5 evening event last summer to bring crowds into the museum for a scene that includes live jazz, gallery tours and wine tastings as well as poetry readings and film screenings. But don't call it hipster.

Folks of all stripes -- from baby-faced students to those enjoying their golden years -- filter through the galleries. Downstairs, surrounded by paintings by Picasso and Degas, young professionals sip beers and snack on a free spread of fruit and cheese. Upstairs, others gather for guided walks through the latest exhibition.

At Phillips After 5, you can head straight for the bar and permanent collections and pay only a donation of your choosing; pay admission, typically $10-$12, and also get access to the exhibition.

Phillips After 5 is normally held the first Thursday of the month but will be weekly during August with lineups that include the Mortified storytelling group, a DJ from a popular D.C. dance party and video art. Drinks: Beer and wine $5. Attire: Dressy casual. 1600 21st St. NW. 202-387-2151 or http://www.phillipscollection.org.

-- The Smithsonian American Art Museum, compared with other Washington museums, already keeps late hours. To take advantage of that 7 p.m. closing time, the museum launched its own happy hour of sorts: Take Five! brings free jazz to the airy, enclosed Kogod Courtyard one Thursday each month. About 200 people drop in.

Take Five! is from 5 to 8 p.m. the third Thursday of each month. On Aug. 20, see the Lovejoy Group. Drinks: Beer and wine to $6.50; bottles of wine are $23-$26. Attire: Ranges from business to casual. Eighth and F streets NW. 202-633-1000 or http://www.americanart.si.edu.

-- The zoo isn't a museum per se, but it is a Washington institution that generally shuts its gates by 6 p.m., making the annual after-hours event Brew at the Zoo an all the more coveted ticket. This year, 38 microbrewers will serve samples while the Batala women's drum troupe and rock band Gonzo's Nose play to an audience made up almost exclusively of 20- and 30-somethings (the event is 21 and older).

The skinny on this carb-fest: You can't actually roam the zoo with your beer. The event is confined to the animal-bereft path between Lemur Island and Kids' Farm.

With the $50 general admission ticket, visitors get a keepsake mug for beer samples measuring about two ounces; spring for the $85 VIP ticket, and brewers will pour you full glasses. (Tickets for nondrinkers are $15.) Vendors sell barbecue and pizza, but hors d'oeuvres are provided with VIP tickets. The event attracts 2,000 people annually and is perennially sold out, so get tickets in advance.

Brew at the Zoo is Aug. 20 from 6 to 9 p.m. Drinks: Included in admission. Attire: Casual. (The tents are in the grass, ladies, so leave the heels at home.) National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW. For tickets, call Ticketmaster (202-397-7328) or avoid service fees by getting tickets at the visitor center front desk, open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For details, visit http://www.fonz.org/brew.htm.

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