AN AWESOME DOUBLE-HEADER

The Impressionist double-header continuing at the National Gallery through part of the summer encompasses two awesome art collections - the Annenberg Collection and the E.G. B"urhle Collection - which together offer an unprecedented overview of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. ``There may never [again] be a moment where there is one institution you can visit and see such a concentration of quality and importance in the one area that I think people relish the most - painting of the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist periods,'' says National Gallery Director J. Carter Brown.

These twin shows are already a hot ticket at the gallery, where previous blockbusters such as ``Treasure Houses of Britain'' have logged over a million viewers.

As always, admission to the gallery is free. But a system of reserved passes has been set up: Same-day passes are available at the gallery for the Annenberg (East Building) and B"uhrle (West Building) exhibitions.

Advance passes may be obtained through TicketCenter locations, with a $1.50 service charge for each pass, or nationwide through PhoneCharge (toll-free at 800-448-9009), with a service charge of $2 per pass.

Comparing and contrasting the collections, says Mr. Carter Brown, ``is a game that everyone is going to want to play.... It's a fascinating one [to see] to what extent is the whole is greater than the sum of its parts ... and to what extent does each [collection] characterize an individual.''

Speaking of dialogues between the pictures and collections, he says, ``We're going to have a lot of fun. There are two [of C'ezanne's] `Mont Sainte-Victoire,' two suits of Gauguins, that sort of interlock and complement each other. So it's really a very jubilant moment.

``I think it will attract people not only from Washington but also from out of town, because of the uniqueness of this festival - to come and pig out, as it were.''

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