Other official outposts of national cultures have functional tags like La Maison Franáaise or the Japan Information and Culture Center, but Germany’s is named for a single man: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. This is the 250th anniversary of the poet, novelist, playwright, and scientist’s birth, so it’s an ideal opportunity for the Goethe-Institut to show why it bears his name. Today’s 12-hour celebration includes a marathon reading of the author’s novel Elective Affinities in various languages, theatrical presentations by Scena Theatre and the Georgetown Theatre Co., videos about Goethe’s life and work, and performances by baritone Jerome Barry and the Washington Chorus’ outreach group. The organizers also promise “culinary treats” and door prizes. In addition, the commemoration offers an opportunity to visit “Synthetic Vision: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Poet and Scientist,” a multimedia exhibition that takes Goethe’s intellectually questing hero Faust as its motif; the display connects Goethe’s writing with his scientific experiments in such areas as optics, and shows how both have influenced artists and scientists. (The show is on view from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, to Friday, Sept. 24.) The bash culminates with a screening of Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s 1996 adaptation of Elective Affinities, a tragic romance starring Isabelle Huppert and set in 18th-century Tuscany, at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 30, at the Italian Cultural Institute, 1717 Massachusetts Ave. NW. (202) 328-3840. The rest of the celebration takes place from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 28, at the Goethe-Institut, 814 7th St. NW. All events are free. (202) 289-1200. (Mark Jenkins)