THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART kicks off its "From Vault to Screen" series this weekend with three choice rarities from the fabulous film collection of the Library of Congress and the UCLA Film and Television Archive. First up is "Baby Face" (1933), the classic New York morality melodrama starring Barbara Stanwyck as an ambitious young woman who canoodles her way from speakeasy barmaid to one of the city's biggest banks; the library recently discovered an even racier version of this provocative film in its vaults, a new 35mm version of which will be shown today at 4:30 p.m.
On Saturday at 2:30 p.m., the museum will present "Counsellor at Law" (1933), starring John Barrymore as a Jewish attorney who works his own way to the top of New York's corporate hierarchy. William Wyler directed the adaptation of the Broadway play. "Counsellor at Law" will be preceded by a short film, "Sing With the Street Singer," an "Organlogue" from the 1930s in which the audience sings along with a singer, an organ player and, of course, the bouncing ball.
"From Vault to Screen" will continue through Sept. 3 and will include screenings of rarely seen work by the late avant-garde pioneer Stan Brakhage, such delicious classics as "Suspicion," "Shadow of a Doubt" and "The Women," and the home movies of Joan Crawford.
-- Ann Hornaday
At the National Gallery of Art's East Building Auditorium, Fourth Street at Constitution Avenue NW. Free. Call 202-842-6799 or visit www.nga.gov.
THE BULK OF THE HOLDINGS in most art museums are works on paper, but they can come out only now and then because they tend to fade. That makes a trip to Baltimore a particularly good idea right now: Two exhibitions, at the Walters Art Museum and the Baltimore Museum of Art, are showcasing works on paper the public doesn't often get to see. In the Walters show, "Pearls of the Parrot of India," all 29 illuminated pages of the Khamsa, one of the great volumes of Mughal miniatures, are on view. (Most are owned by the Walters; a handful have been borrowed from elsewhere.) "The Essence of Line: French Drawings From Ingres to Degas," an exhibition split between the Walters and the BMA, assembles some of the best of the French drawings owned by the two institutions. It's an eclectic mix, with gems as well as curiosities, but well worth a close look. After all, some of these drawings may not be shown again for years.
-- Blake Gopnik
At the Walters Art Museum, 600 N. Charles St., and the Baltimore Museum of Art, 10 Art Museum Dr., through Sept. 11. Admission to the Walters is $10 ($8 for seniors, $6 for students, $2 for children ages 6 to 17; free on Saturdays 10 a.m.-1 p.m.). Open Wednesday-Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Call 410-547-9000 or visit www.thewalters.org. Admission to the Baltimore Museum of Art is $7 ($5 for students and seniors, free for children younger than 18). Open Wednesday-Friday 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Call 410-396-7100 or visit www.artbma.org.
PREPARING FOR a Femi Kuti show takes work. Consider the muscle-loosening exercises alone: The neck rolls and shoulder shrugs and arm twirls and waist-bends, plus all that hopping and skipping in place. Of course, that's just the Afrobeat legend's pre-performance warm-up ritual, as captured in the film "Femi Kuti Live at the Shrine." You're free to come in cold to a Kuti concert. But do so at your own peril -- rare is the audience member who manages to stay still as the son of the late, great Fela Kuti performs his explosive, intoxicating blend of trad-African music and jazz. If you pull a muscle moving feverishly as the singer-saxophonist-activist assails the Nigerian government in song, don't say you weren't warned.
-- J. Freedom du Lac
At 9:30 club, 815 V St. NW. Saturday at 9 p.m. $25. Call 800-955-5566 or visit www.tickets.com.
THE MUSIC CENTER at Strathmore has now been open for almost six months, and music lovers are still evaluating its acoustics. So far, a consensus has emerged that the hall is pretty much ideally suited to orchestral performance, especially if you sit on the main level. So that's the choice spot to sit if you attend the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's program at Strathmore on Thursday night, when Mark Wigglesworth will conduct his own orchestral suite built on Richard Wagner's "Die Meistersinger." An additional incentive is Dvorak's beloved Cello Concerto, in a performance by Ilya Finkelshteyn.
-- Tim Page
At the Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. Thursday at 8 p.m. $10. Call 301-581-5100 or visit www.strathmore.org.