Sunday, July 6, 2008

Washington D.C., The NEWSEUM

What does $450 million dollars buy you in Washington D.C.? How about front row seats to the inauguration parade? And did I mention some prime property on Pennsylvania Avenue? That's what the Newseum folks got when they moved from their location in Rosslyn, VA across the Potomac River to 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW Washington, D.C. When I say "Newseum folks" - The Newseum's operations are actually funded by the Freedom Forum, a nonpartisan foundation dedicated to "free press, free speech and free spirit for all people." Well, what exactly is "Newseum" you ask?


Don't feel badly if you asked this question, I had to ask the same question when recently I visited Washington D.C. and everyone said I should stop by and check out the "Newseum." What's a "Newseum?" I asked.



According to Wikipedia:
" The Newseum is an interactive museum of news and journalism in Washington, D.C. It opened at its first location in Rosslyn, Virginia, on April 18, 1997, where it admitted visitors without charge. Its stated mission is "to help the public and the news media understand one another better." In five years, the Newseum attracted more than 2.25 million visitors."

So last week on my visit to D.C., I decided to stroll on by and check it out. I was initially taken by the architecture of the building. Very appropriate for the theme. As I approached, I also took note of the 45 words of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, etched into a stone panel facing Pennsylvania Avenue. When I walked into the building it was quite clear that this was a modern building with up-to-date features. The staff met me as I walked in and offered assistance. Overall, I found them all very helpful and informative throughout the day. The price of admission was a bit steep in my opinion; $20 for adults; But I managed to get them to knock off a couple dollars with a AAA discount - that took some negotiating. With the money I saved, I was able to buy a $3 bottle of water (Ha, ha) I think seniors get in at the rate of $18. No breaks really for anyone. I'm sure they've got to find a way to pay the bills too. Especially the heating and cooling bills. When you see the amount of open space in the middle of the building you'll know what I mean.

I started my tour by taking the escalator down to the Concourse Level where I viewed the Orientation. While waiting for the presentation to start, I took a look around the Berlin Wall Gallery. Supposedly, this section of the wall is the largest span outside of Germany. There is also a three story guard tower for your viewing. The orientation started just as I was completing my tour of the wall. The orientation presentation gives you an overview of the museum and recommends a method for viewing. I followed their suggestions after leaving the theater and took the glass express elevator up to level 6. They suggest that you start at the top and work your way down. Just a note; Don't miss the Sports Theater on the Concourse Level. It's easy to get herded into the elevator prior to seeing this exhibit.

On level 6, I found the "Front Pages Gallery" where you can read the front pages of more than 80 newspapers from around the world. There's also the "Pennsylvania Avenue Terrace." The terrace offers spectacular views of the city, Pennsylvania Avenue, and the Capitol. Looks like a great place to throw a party!





I snapped this with my telephone. I Forgot my camera


So from level 6, I worked my way down. I won't bore you with all the details but here are a few of the highlights:


Be sure to catch the "Big Screen Theater on Level 5 and the 9/11 Gallery on Level 4. The Internet, TV and Radio Gallery on Level 3 is also noteworthy. If you're interested in putting your TV Reporter skills to the test, you can pay $5 and give a live news update on camera. They allow you to chose from a group of prearranged backgrounds including the White House and the Capitol and either read a scripted news story or come up with your own. The story is then available immediately for your review and you can download your copy from the Internet when you get home. Kind of quirky but perhaps a nice memento to remember your trip and visit. On level 2 there is an interactive Ethics Center which allows you to experience some of the tough decisions journalist face in their work. You will enjoy playing the games and working through the scenarios. Last but not least, on Level 1 I found two very interesting attractions. The first is the 4-dimension (4-D) film "I-Witness!", which brings to life the experiences of three inspiring journalists. The second is the Pulitzer Prize Photographs Gallery. This was probably my favorite exhibit. Here I discovered not only the photos but also the emotions inspired by the times and experiences illuminated by the photographers who snapped these shots . Many of the photos were quite familiar. Some were not suitable for children. All were worth seeing! Here are just a few.....






Go to: WWW.Newseum.org to get more photos and information on Newseum.


Overall, I found the "Newseum" well worth the time and money. I would suggest no less than two full hours to adequately view the displays. For me, my visit was a chance to relive much of our history and appreciate the impact of journalism in our world. I was also faced with the realization that much in the world that is "News" really isn't very pleasant. Death and destruction seemed to prevail. Tragic events are often the news that stands out. Such was the case in the "Newseum."

On a departing note, I leave you with this:



The late NBC’s Tim Russert, a Newseum trustee, said, "The Newseum made a pretty good impression in Arlington, but at your new location on Pennsylvania Avenue, you will make an indelible mark."



I think he's right!

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sounds Like A Great Place. Where Do I Go 2 See Your Video Report? Speedcat * Via Mobile Phone

intrepidideas said...

Ha... You would die laughing. And then all of your readers would hate me! I'll have to dig up the link.

BellyDance Girl said...

Thanks for the great review! I'm a news and history junkie - I can't wait unil I have the opportunity to go. I'm still so sad about Tim Russert. He was one of the good ones.

Jane Turley said...

The Newseum sounds like a very interesting place indeed; especially when one considers how influential the role of the press has become in our lives. I like musuems a lot but usually only go with the children (time being so precious) and so never really get to study the displays as much as I would like. However, with the arrival of all the interactive games etc that they have for children they do seem to find musuems a little more entertaining these days. I'm afraid often I can't resist having a go on the games myself.(The chance to get one-up on a seven year old is too great an opportunity to miss!) I don't think I could resist the chance to try out my reporter skills at The Newseum either! Naturally, I would make up my own story.. maybe something on the lines of "Big Booty linked to natural disasters."

A question .. how on earth did you get around in ONLY 2 hours?! I can spend 2 hours just in a museum gift shop... oh all those little rubbers, pencils and fridge magnets...

intrepidideas said...

BDG, How are you? When you have the chance to go, be sure to check out the many other great attractions in the city. Yeah, Tim Russert will be missed. An untimely passing indeed!

intrepidideas said...

Miss Jayne, you're right. I rushed through the museum. I missed several of the exhibits and I could have spent more time on some of the others. But all in all, I felt like my time was well spent.

Footsteps said...

I love D.C. and have been interested to read more about the new Newseum! I appreciate your first-hand comments...
We have a traveling version of the Pulitzer exhibit here through the summer. Can't wait to see it and have been trying to decide whether it would be too intense for my photographer/13-year old daughter... Any thoughts?

intrepidideas said...

Footsteps, I love D.C., as well. So much culture and history. I also enjoy the lure of the surrounding areas including the Chesapeake Bay area, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. I think it's a great opportunity to catch the traveling Pulitzer exhibit. Especially if your daughter is interested in photography. Some of the photos are graphic and have implied violence/death... i.e., people jumping out of burning buildings and people being executed but not much of the end result. At 13 years of age (especially girls), kids often know more than we think. You probably know your daughter better than anyone else. If she's on the mature side of 13 then it's certainly okay for her to see the exhibit. I'm sure it will have an emotional and dramatic impact. It will absolutely be educational for her. She can glance by the photos that may be disturbing. If you think she is on the younger side of 13 .....- she gets upset at PG-13 movies - then you might want to reconsider or prescreen it first. There were several kids walking through when I went. They seemed to be as young as 9. They were more interested in the interactive displays in the museum and less interested in the photos. Either way, I hope you see it and drop me a note and let me know what you thought. Thanks for the comment and asking for advice. I'm glad I posted on something you like.... Welcome Back!