The Newseum is an interactive, ever-evolving tribute to our First Amendment freedoms of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition. Powerful exhibits such as eight sections of the Berlin Wall (the largest display outside Germany) provide historical context for the importance of free press, while timely exhibits about the civil rights movement provoke reflection on the progress of achieving equality. The daily-updated “Front Pages” gallery of local, national, and international publications is a comparative study on current events, while the archive of headlines highlighting momentous events from the 1400s through today is an engaging history lesson. Peruse Pulitzer Prize–winning photography, enjoy panoramic views down Pennsylvania Avenue, and test your journalistic skills with a recorded mock-broadcast—reading a teleprompter is not as easy as you may think!
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The History of News
The Newseum is one of D.C.’s newest tourist attractions. In a city where at least two dozen Smithsonian Museums are free to enter, you have to pay to go to the Newseum. Entry tickets are not cheap, but tickets are good for two days. I thought the Newseum would be gimmicky, so I went in with a bit of skepticism. I didn’t want to like it, but after having spent a good amount of time in the place, I shall now eat those words. I love the place! It is informative, it is interactive, and it is lot of fun! All of the exhibits and displays are so well presented that you instantly become absorbed in it all, and before you know it, hours have passed. Outside the Newseum, there are kiosks displaying the current day’s headlines, and greeting you inside is huge flat-panel screen running historical news, breaking headlines, and a small news helicopter. Start your tour in the concourse level with the movie introduction. Then, do a quick swing by the panels of the Berlin Wall (yes, there are four sections of the Berlin Wall on display) before taking the glass elevator to the sixth floor to take in one of the best views of the Capitol from anywhere in the city. From there, wind your way down the floors to the exhibits, which cover everything from old newsprint to the impact that technology (think Twitter, social networking) is having on mass communications. It’s not all serious—have a good laugh at cartoon exhibit and take your seat for the 4D movie!
The Newseum is an interactive museum of news and journalism in Washington, DC. I’ve known about it for years, since its primary funder is the Freedom Forum, which also supports the First Amendment Center here in Nashville. What I didn’t know about the Newseum, until I visited it during a recent trip to DC, is that every morning Newseum staff post the front pages of newspapers from all 50 states in display boxes that circle the museum. It’s quite a sight to behold. It’s also fascinating to compare coverage of major events (such as the Pope’s retirement, on the front page when I visited) around the country.
All the News That Fits in a Museum
I’m not much of a museum person. Well, I am, I find them interesting - but I just move so quickly through them sometimes because of adult-onset ADD. The Newseum is a museum that stands well above the numerous options in Washington, DC. You can trace presidential campaigns back to the early days of the country, see a large piece of the Berlin Wall, relive 9-11 coverage, and look out over the capital on the terrace. As a photographer, the Pulitzer Prize photo exhibit they have of each year’s award-winning photo was took the cake. As you scroll the photos, you move between being inspired, horrified, and fascinated.
The History of News in the Newseum
The Newseum is massive, extremely well kept, and artifact rich - this museum simply explodes with history. If you follow the exhibit path laid out for you by an introduction video, the very first exhibit is a powerful one; full sections of the Berlin Wall complete with some incredible political artwork. This exhibit is followed by many more powerful historic historical artifacts. My favorite exhibit in the Newseum was the News History Gallery which has a just a massive collection of newspapers from around the world. It’s a fascinating history lesson looking through all the drawers and just like at the National Geographic museum, an evolution of design. Not that this has anything to do with the history of media, but the Newseum building has a balcony on the top floor which offers some absolutely amazing views during a day of the surrounding area.
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