Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Resident Tourist: Newseum

While I frequent museums with the kids each week, I rarely have an opportunity to read anything beyond the headlines in the exhibits. It's been on my personal bucket list for a while to get to a few museums solo before our time here comes to an end, and high on that list was the Newseum.

A non-Smithsonian venture, the Newseum celebrates all that has to do with the first Amendment-freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly, and petition. I had intended to be gone a few hours on Sunday and be able to see the National Archives as well, but instead, spent over three hours moving at my own pace through the six levels of this amazing museum.

With my communications background, I found much of the content fascinating. Some highlights: the front of the museum has a front page from every state represented, as well as most major countries inside. I choked up no less than five times in the Pulitzer Prize photographs gallery. Many images were quite iconic but others I had never seen and/or known the backstory and was moved to tears learning more about the stories and context of the images. And, I was impressed to see an image from the Orange County Register among the collection.

The Newseum also has a fully-functional television studio that has hosted President Obama and regularly featured ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos, among other broadcast notables. Pretty cool to stand inside those walls. And, on the lighter side, they also have an interactive exhibit where you can pretend to be a newscaster. Of course I did that, too.

Other exhibits took a look at the Civil Rights movement the past fifty years, and how student protests have continued to be main forms of free speech. 

Exhibits also focused on the accessibility of news. Standing on either side of the Berlin wall and looking at maps as to how much freedom of the press actually existed in Berlin at that time and now, globally, was sobering. 
The museum had an amazing 9/11 gallery reflecting a timeline of events that day, journalists' stories and videos of capturing the events as they happened, and an antenna that used to reside atop World Trade Center. Their discretely placed tissue boxes were much appreciated.
Other highlights of the visit included an entire gallery dedicated to front page stories spanning three centuries. Headlines included Napoleon returning to France to the Titanic's sinking and both royal weddings of the last 30 years. It was fascinating to read (those in modern English anyway), along with exhibits on war reporting, women in news, and how the FBI is fighting modern terrorism in a pre and post 9/11 world. There's also an amazing panoramic exhibit on the top floor, flanking Pennsylvania Ave, with picture perfect views and a detailed timeline of the headlines that made it "America's Main Street."

Being non-Smithsonian the cost is around $25 for adults, but the first weekend of the month is free for Bank of America customers (credit cards, bank cards, even my Alaska Airline's credit card applied!) but it's definitely worth the money. And Wolfgang Puck's restaurant is next door and also the supplier of the cafeteria, where I had lunch. Win win!

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