06/01/2012 02:16 pm ET

D.C.'s Best Free Film Screenings

WASHINGTON -- Residents and tourists in the nation's capital know how to take advantage of a museum. The surplus of ways to spend a free afternoon makes having hoards of visitors a nice respite rather than a chore. In order to keep locals from tiring of consistent visits to the same venue, specially programmed events keep folks coming back. One of the best ways to enjoy your umptheeth visit to a D.C. museum is to catch a free film.

The National Gallery of Art programs films each weekend and occasionally weekdays.

Multiple series are programmed for each season. The current one featuring Japanese Divas, independent filmmaker Ernie Gehr, Greek director Michael Cacoyannis, Czech avant-garde animator Jan Švankmajer and American filmmaker Bill Morrison gives an idea of the consistent risks the museum is willing to take. In addition to the film series, the NGA will also screen outlier art films and bring in musicians to live score a film. These Ciné-Concerts are a treat for music fans as well as the silent film buffs that populate the audience.

All of the films may not be classics, but all are worth a watch. Think of it as a film school 101. There's always something to learn at a film at the NGA.

Runner Up: Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery
A fine but not nearly consistent enough series to compete with the NGA. The Smithsonian film screenings in the McEvoy Auditorium may have a better average of quality selections, but their rarity makes it an option most people will forget.

Runner Up: Screen on the Green
All of the D.C. Outdoor Movie series have merit, but the backdrop for this one can't be beat.

Photo by Flickr user Alaskan Dude