THE FILM "ELVIRA MADIGAN" WILL BE SHOWN AT THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART AT 2 P.M. ON SEPT. 5, NOT TODAY, AS REPORTED IN TODAY'S ARTS SECTION, WHICH WAS PRINTED IN ADVANCE. (PUBLISHED 08/29/99)

ART

TO SHOW THEY WERE MUSEUMS, art museums once installed big bronze lions outside their doors. Later they employed, as a sort of standard symbol, the heavy rounded sculptures of England's Henry Moore. Big, painted-steel objects now do the job instead. One such--Mark di Suvero's "Are Years What? (for Marianne Moore)"--was erected a few days ago beside the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden on the Mall. The 40-foot-high, 10-ton, red, 1967 di Suvero was swapped by the museum for another piece by the 65-year-old sculptor, "Isis" (1978), an even heavier sculpture whose most notable component was the chopped-off steel bow of an oceangoing banana boat. Other painted-steel sculptures are now on temporary guard beside other art museums here. "Brush Stroke Group" (1988) by the late Roy Lichtenstein has joined the lazy lions outside the Corcoran Gallery of Art. The Lichtenstein, a portal of steel brush marks (red, white, yellow, sky blue and Kelly green), will remain on view through Sept. 30. Meanwhile, Tony Smith's 23-foot-wide "The Snake Is Out" (1962)--which has joined Henry Moore's bronze "Knife Edge Mirror Two Piece" (1977-78) at the entrance of the National Gallery of Art's East Building--is getting a new coat of matte black paint.

--Paul Richard

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Seventh Street and Independence Avenue SW. The Corcoran Gallery of Art, 500 17th St. NW. The National Gallery East Building, Fourth Street and Constitution Avenue NW.

FILM

MAYBE YOU HAD TO BE THERE, but almost no movie rocked America like Bo Widerberg's "Elvira Madigan" of 1967, with its wildly romantic nihilism. It even made vomiting look beautiful, though admittedly it helps if it's the picturesque Pia Degermark doing the throwing up. She plays Elvira, the circus performer and love object of Sixten (Thommy Berggren), a cavalry officer who throws his life away to die of starvation with her. Bad career move, but it was the '60s, so who cared about careers? Anyhow, "Elvira" makes an appearance at the National Gallery of Art as part of the series "Bo Widerberg: A New Wave in Sweden," which runs throughout September on weekends.

--Stephen Hunter

At the National Gallery of Art East Building, Fourth Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Today at 2 p.m. and Sept. 18 at 3:45 p.m. Free. Call 202-849-6799.

THEATER

LE NEON THEATRE will perform "Renard the Fox" today on the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage. A show for the whole family, "Renard" features masked animal characters and troubadours.

--Lloyd Rose

Today at 6 p.m. Free. Call 202-467-4600.

POP MUSIC

THAT LOUD, RUMBLING, MELODIC ENERGY swelling over the Montgomery County Fairgrounds in Gaithersburg next weekend? That's just Celtic thunder as the 23rd Washington Irish FolkFestival takes over with dozens of top acts, ceili dances (and dance workshops for the curious and adventurous), crafts, sheep dog trials, Irish wolfhounds on parade and an all-day pub. Among the musicians: Solas, Cherish the Ladies, Beginish, Danu, Moving Cloud, Calico, "Riverdance" fiddler Eileen Ivers and local favorites like Brendan Mulvilhill and Zan McLeod.

--Richard Harrington

At the Montgomery County Fairgrounds, Gaithersburg. Saturday, noon to 10 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 a day in advance and $20 at the gate. 301-565-0654.

ART

THE WORD "SCIENTIST" was coined decades after the death of the great statesman and experimenter Benjamin Franklin, yet science--not government--was his first and enduring passion. Among the many portraits of Franklin painted during his lifetime, his favorite depicted him studying electricity during a thunderstorm. "Franklin & His Friends," at the National Portrait Gallery, shows a diverse group of 18th-century men of science at work. Included in the show are portraits of astronomer David Rittenhouse with his telescope and physician Benjamin Rush writing a paper on earthquakes.

--Nicole Lewis

At the National Portrait Gallery, Eighth and F streets NW. Free. Through Sept. 6. 202-357-2700.