The Museum of American History understands there's more to the past than meets the eye. That's why it's presenting a weekend of free entertainment designed to recreate the atmosphere of days gone by.
The rise of jazz music in America will be celebrated in two Palm Court concerts. Friday at noon you can hear the music of Victor Herbert, complete with a salon trio. Sunday at 3, pianist Wallace Burton plays Chicago boogie-woogie.
And Saturday at 2, a chamber group will perform turn-of-the-century airs and dance tunes in the Hall of Musical Instruments on the third floor.
Other entertainment on Saturday will also augment the museum's exhibit on "After the Revolution: Everyday Life in America, 1780- 1800." Bill Wells will perform 18th-century magic in three shows -- at 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30 -- in the Philadelphia Tavern within the exhibition. The museum is at 14th and Constitution Avenue NW. For more information, call 357-2700.
While we're on museums, we should mention that the Phillips Collection will sponsor a free Sunday concert featuring pianist Jeffery Chappell playing original compositions and selections from Beethoven, Chopin and Ravel. The performance is at 5. The Phillips Collection is at 1600 21st Street NW. For more information, call 387-0961 or 387-2151. Putting on the Moves
Wouldn't it be nice to know how to do something other than pogo? A few Swing aficionados thought so, and the result is a series of monthly sessions dedicated to dances like the foxtrot and jitterbug. They're starting off the year this Saturday night with a 12-piece band, Doctor Scantlin and his Imperial Palms Orchestra, which will pump out big-band jazz tunes of the '20s and 30s.
The dance starts at 9, but if you show up at 8, you can take part in a workshop teaching foxtrot fundamentals. Couples, singles and novices are all welcome at the Church of the Ascension Hall, 630 Silver Spring Avenue, Silver Spring. Tickets are $5. Because space is limited to the first 175 people, you may want to show up early. For more information, call 229-5845. Pops Concert
The music of George Gershwin fills the Kennedy Center in a National Symphony Orchestra pops concert this Friday at 8:30. In addition to a comprehensive medley of Gershwin's work, Andrew Litton will conduct Johann Strauss waltzes and selections from Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite." Tickets range from $5 to $28 and can be reserved by calling 857-0900. Byrd on the Wing
Jazz guitarist extraordinaire and local hero Charlie Byrd takes to the Barns stage this Friday at 8 at the Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $12 and are available by calling 432-0200. The Center is at 1624 Trap Road, Vienna. Memory Jog
In case the holidays haved fogged your memory,ollowing are worth a reminder.
* Some fine art exhibitions will soon be packing it up, and this is your last weekend to get a shot at some: "Durer to Delacroix: Great Master Drawings From Stockholm" runs through Sunday and "Ansel Adams: Classic Images," through January 12 at the National Gallery of Art West, 737-4215.
"Go Well My Child: Photographs by Constance Stuart Larrabee in collaboration with Alan Paton," runs through Sunday at the Museum of African Art, 287-3490.
"The New York School: Photographs (1935-1963) Part III," has been extended through January 12 at the Corcoran, 638- 3211.
"A New Romanticism: 16 Artists from Italy," runs through Sunday at the Hirshhorn, 357-2700.
* The American Film Institute will be showing some dandy detective flicks this weekend as part of its festival of "Celluloid Sleuths: Literary Detectives on Film," running through February 27. This Friday at 8:30 you can see Agatha Christie's "Murder Most Foul" and "Murder She Said." Then it's Humphrey Bogart's classic, "The Maltese Falcon," and "Satan Met a Lady," Saturday at 8:30, Sunday at 5. Tickets are $4; $3 for AFI members. It's recommended you arrive at the AFI Theater 30 minutes before showtime. For more information, call 785-4600.
The Washington premiere of the New Zealand epic "Utu" runs through this weekend at Georgetown's Biograph Theater as part of its "Down Under" film festival. For more information, call 333-2696.
* In college basketball, the Georgetown Hoyas take on Providence in their first home conference game of the season this Saturday at 2 at the Capital Centre. Tickets are $5, $9 and $12, and can be bought at the door or by calling 350-3400. The Eves After
The first weekend of 1986 is as good a chance as you'll get to show off some hometown talent to any out-of-town visitors who're still around, or to sneak in one last bump before it's back to the grind again Monday.
Nightlife highlights, in no particular order: Friday night, $3 will get you Big Secrets with Random Samples and Unrest at the 9:30 Club, or 11th Hour and Eubie Hayve at D.C. Space. Saturday at the 9:30, $6 gets you On Beyond Zebra with Hyaa!
Appearing Saturday at the Roxy (ex-Saba) is probably the best bar band south of Southside, namely Junior Cline & the Recliners, with Goin' Goin' Gone. (Other contenders in roughly the same category will show up at the Roxy in coming weeks, including the Assassins, with guitarist Jimmy Thackery and Barely White's horn section, on January 12; and the Uptown Rhythm Kings, with Tom Principato and his new band, on January 18).
And at least one one-time D.C. talent, Emmylou Harris, is among the eight performers scheduled to join Tom Rush on stage Saturday night at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, wherein Rush celebrates 25 years in the folk-singing business. The show'll be staged in Rush's celebrated "Club 47" style, in which everyone -- Rush, Harris, Nani Griffith, Peter Rowan, Mark O'Connor, Buskin and Batteau, Bill Morrissey and Robert Keen -- remains on stage as each takes a turn performing.
You, of course, are expected to remain in your $13 to $22 seat.