There is more to do at night than you might think at the Smithsonian.

After 5 pm at many museums, lights start to go out, exhibits are put away, and visitors head home, but, at the Smithsonian, the highlight events are just getting started at night.  If you’re looking for a unique evening activity in D.C. this summer, leave the kids at home and head back to the museum.  From discussions with award-winning stars to laid-back cocktail classes, the Smithsonian will be offering a variety of evening events that are sure to add sophistication to your next ladies’ night out.

Food in the Garden: Growing Local Series (August 1, 8, and 15)

You don’t have to be a die-hard environmentalist to enjoy this evening series on select Thursdays throughout August.  Sit under the stars in the American History Museum’s Victory Garden and enjoy locally produced food and drinks as local growers, educators, and researchers spark conversations on where our food comes from and how it is grown.  On August 1st explore how gardening relates to educational change, with representatives from the USDA’s Farm to School program, the Washington Youth Garden, and more.  On August 8th learn about soil composition and the potential of fertilization and composting, or attend the final series on August 15th to celebrate the 101st birthday of Julia Child and re-visit her time-honored wisdom of cooking.  Each session runs 6-8pm and costs $20 (advance purchase recommended).

Director’s Discussion Series: Johnnetta Betsch Cole and Jill Scott (August 9)

On Friday, August 9, the Smithsonian welcomes three-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, bestselling poet, and acclaimed actress Jill Scott to the American Indian Museum’s Rasmuson Theater.  Johnnetta Betch Cole, the director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, will conduct a thought-provoking discussion with Scott on the artist’s career success thus far, as well as her plans for the future, which include staring in a remake of Steel Magnolia’s this fall.  The discussion will run from 7:30-8: 00 pm with a reception afterward for VIP ticket holders.  (Tickets cost $30 for general admission and must be purchased in advance.)

Literary Libations (August 13)

Guest speaker Philip Greene of the Museum of the American Cocktail knows that a good book is always better with a stiff drink on the side.  On August 13th in the Mitsitam Café in the Smithsonian’s Museum of the American Indian, join in as Greene revisits the works of classic authors to assemble a tasting menu of their drinks of choice.  Try a Bronx Cocktail as the one Amory Blaine sips in Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise. Or learn the recipe to make the perfect Negroni or Vesper, the famous “shaken-not-stirred” martinis, ordered up by James Bond in Ian Fleming’s 007 series.  Anyone who enjoys a good book, or just a good cocktail, is sure to enjoy this fun evening of literary learning and sipping.  (Tickets must be purchased ahead of time.)

Mad Men Style: Janie Bryant on Fashion and Character (September 9)

Emmy-winning costume designer Janie Bryant comes to the Smithsonian on September 9th to discuss her work for the highly acclaimed TV series Mad Men. The accredited designer will share her inspirations for the drama’s 60’s era costumes and explain how her work has transcended the show to infiltrate contemporary style.  After the presentation, sip on Mad Men-inspired cocktails, and view Bryant’s original sketches for your favorite Mad Men characters.  (Tickets cost $50 for general admission.)

For a complete list of upcoming evening events at the Smithsonian visit the Smithsonian website under search category “After Five”.