Coming to a National Mall Near You

The National Gallery of Art is just one of the cultural institutions in D.C. offering free movie screenings. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The various Smithsonian and related government institutions around the capital region always offer a healthy serving of gratis good cinema in grand facilities such as the National Gallery of Art, the Freer and Sackler museums and the National Archives.  

This week, it's as simple as walking in the door to watch some interesting, influential or just plain weird movies at those spots.  

Stephen Colbert Portrait Set to Leave National Portrait Gallery

A nation turns its lonely eyes to you, Colbert. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Nation! It's come to this. Stephen Colbert's portrait is coming down from its rightful spot in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, on the second floor between the bathrooms and above the water fountain. The painting of Colbert in full satiric regalia with tchotchkes was loaned to the Smithsonian by "The Colbert Report" in December as part of the hoopla surrounding the show's final season. The portrait's last day in its place of honor is April 19, well before Colbert starts playing it straight as he replaces the retiring David Letterman on CBS's "Late Show" on Sept. 8. In 2008, the museum installed a portrait of Colbert, then eventually sent it to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. The most recent portrait is heading back to Comedy Central, according to Marielba Alvarez, public affairs associate at the Portrait Gallery.  

No word on whether Santa Claus and Alex Trebek will usher the portrait away, as they did for Colbert himself on the final episode of "The Colbert Report." For now it appears the wax statue of Colbert at Madame Tussaud's is safe.  

Piero di Cosimo's Breakout Show

"The Discovery of Honey" by Piero di Cosimo. (Courtesy National Gallery of Art)

It took almost 500 years for one of the bad boys of Renaissance art to get a major retrospective. But if recent crowds at the National Gallery of Art are any indication, Piero di Cosimo may be starting to  emerge from the shadows cast by famous contemporaries such as Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo to take a long overdue star turn.  

“Piero di Cosimo: The Poetry of Painting in Renaissance Florence,” features 44 altarpieces, portraits and mythological and allegorical scenes painted by an enigmatic figure who was described in his day as uncivilized, eccentric and prone to “building castles in the air.” Piero (1462-1522) lived in squalor, largely limiting his diet to eggs, which he cooked dozens at a time with the glue he used in his work. He ranted at everyday sounds like ringing bells and crying infants, according to Giorgio Vasari’s “Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects,” a somewhat unreliable but essential chronicle of the Florentine masters.  

What to See and Do in Selma

The city of Selma prepares for the 50th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday." (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

SELMA, Ala., — Every year, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., makes a pilgrimage here to walk the Edmund Pettus Bridge, tracing the fateful steps he took on March 7, 1965, when he and others marching in favor of voting rights were savagely beaten by state troopers and thugs.  

Friends, activists and fellow members of Congress have frequently joined him over the years, but not in the numbers expected for the upcoming 50th anniversary, when about 100 of his colleagues and President Barack Obama are expected to help him mark the half-century mark since "Bloody Sunday." If you're heading there yourself, here are a few things to check out, including places where the Selma to Montgomery March was planned, as well as a great spot for a proper Southern breakfast. Photographer Spider Martin's images of "Bloody Sunday" and the subsequent march to Montgomery are the ones most often burned into our consciousness. Lewis and Hosea Williams facing troopers just before the billy clubs and tear gas were unleashed, Martin Luther King Jr. leading the march across treacherous territory.  

The Democrats' Lost Opportunity in Birmingham

Wallace and Bentley adorn booth B-4 at Carlile's BBQ. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Walk into any barbecue place in the South and you're pretty certain to find walls of fame and photos of the area's local sports heroes. Dine at Carlile's BBQ here in Magic City and you'll see prominent politicians, mostly rock-ribbed Republicans, interspersed among the likes of Joe Namath, Bart Starr and Bear Bryant.  

Booth B-4 provides the most vivid illustration of Carlile's political tone. A contemporary photo of the current governor, Republican Robert Bentley, hangs just below a black and white photo of the late Democratic Gov. George Wallace, the long-time segregationist who recanted his views late in life but was for years a symbol, along with Police Chief Eugene "Bull" Connor, of white resistance to civil rights. (Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" immortalized Wallace's status for fraternity party singalongs with the lyrics, "In Birmingham they love the governor.")  

When Interior Decorating Questions Get Weird

Young's office boasts a gavel made from a walrus penis. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Some members of Congress go their whole lives without being asked about their office decorations. Others have it foisted upon them.  

So it was when Roll Call and WAMU went to the Capitol to report on why members display particular pictures of parents, presidential memorabilia or patriotic nutcrackers. It just happened to be on the day The Washington Post published Ben Terris' story about Rep. Aaron Schock's "Downton Abbey"-inspired red Rayburn office digs . Would our reporting arouse suspicion? When we hatched the idea as part of our partnership this week for Kojo at the Capitol , we were unaware of the impending Terris trump tale of the Illinois Republican's use of the firm Euro Trash to transform his government spot into an homage to Edwardian excess. But when we showed up once the piece was published and making waves, would offices assume we were digging for a scoop or, worse, simply following up, even though we'd been working on our story for some time? Would we find office decor inspired by "Justified" among the Kentucky delegation or perhaps "Breaking Bad" from the Land of Enchantment's representatives in the Capitol?  

Kojo, Will and Roll Call on the Hill

The Folger will host Kojo at the Capitol: In Partnership with Roll Call, WAMU's Metro Connection, and the Folger Shakespeare Library. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If the voice of Kojo Nnamdi sounds different starting Monday, it could because be he's channeling the Bard.  

Kojo, who once upon a time covered Capitol Hill for WHUR , will helm Kojo at the Capitol: In Partnership with Roll Call, WAMU's Metro Connection, and the Folger Shakespeare Library amid the Folger's dark wood, thousands of manuscripts, vivid oil paintings and stained glass. His eponymous show, on WAMU 88.5 will hit the road from its usual spot at American University, and set up camp Feb. 2-6 on the first floor of the Folger, broadcasting adjacent to the Founder's Room in a book-filled office with a sun-filled greenhouse window to one side and a painting of the great Shakespearean actor David Garrick to the other.  

The Dangerous Lives of Satirists

Gibbons, right, helped honor Havel. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

"Foreigners are sometimes amazed at the suffering that we are willing to undergo here, and at the same time they are amazed at the things we are still able to laugh at. It's difficult to explain, but without the laughter we would simply be unable to do the serious things. If one were required to increase the dramatic seriousness of his face in relation to the seriousness of the problems he had to confront, he would quickly petrify and become his own statue ."

— Vaclav Havel, "Disturbing The Peace"

Air and Space Museum Shows Off New Planetarium Projection System

Something new, something old. The Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum on the National Mall has both at its newly renovated planetarium.  

The Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum has a new toy: a brand spanking new digital projection system for its Einstein Planetarium: an 8K Full Dome Digital System. As part of its soft launch, it's showing off what it can do with showings of "Dark Universe," a 24-minute film narrated by new "Cosmos" host Neil deGrasse Tyson.