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The Newsworthy Newseum

April 6, 2010

DC’s Newseum has been raved about for a while, and we finally got a chance to check it out ourselves this past year.  Sometimes museums with too much of a specific focus fall flat with visitors and become pigeon-holed by their own material, but the Newseum is refreshingly modern and inspiring.  Impressive fact?  There are over 35,000 historic newspaper front pages on display.

The Newseum was originally in Arlington, VA, but opened in its DC location in the Spring of 2008.  The museum has 7 floors and features 14 main galleries.  The outside of the building has a 74-foot marble slab engraved with the First Amendment to commemorate freedom of the press and the right to free speech.

There are plenty of hands-on and interactive exhibits, as well as 15 theaters to entertain the easily bored.  The 4-D “I-Witness: Time Travel Adventure” is pretty cheesy, but surprisingly fun with the 4-D effects.  Case in point: One girl actually jumped out of her seat and screamed when a cannonball came out of nowhere and flew at the audience.

P.S. That girl may or may not have been me.  I won’t confirm or deny this, just like a true DC politician. 😉

One fun stop is the interactive newsroom on level 2.  It can be a little crowded with school groups and kids, but it still is entertaining to watch everyone’s hilariously embarrassing attempts at being a reporter.  Those who are brave enough to give it a try use a microphone and read from a teleprompter while they are filmed.  Videos are posted around the newsroom, just to add to the would-be reporter’s mortification.  Below is our friend Connor showing off his reporting skills outside of the White House:

The museum manages its crowds well, and it’s easy to both linger at exhibits or breeze through and catch a quick glimpse of it all.

Some highlights I highly recommend include:

  • Berlin Wall Gallery (concourse level), which displays eight 3-ton portions of the original wall
  • FBI Exhibit (concourse level), where you can see the Unabomber’s cabin and hear top FBI-related news stories
  • Pulitzer Prize Photographs Gallery (level 1), which has more Pulitzer Prize photos than any other collection
  • 9/11 Gallery (level 4), which features wreckage from the broadcast antenna from the World Trade Center and a wall of front-pages from that day
  • News History Gallery (level 5), where you can see historic front-pages dating back to before Lincoln and continuing until today’s current headlines
  • Terrace (level 6), which gives you a great view of Pennsylvania Avenue as well as the Capitol, Washington Monument, National Gallery of Art, and the National Archives.  I just wish I had brought a better camera with me!

Tickets are $20, but they are good for two consecutive days.  And if you buy tickets online ahead of time, you get a 10% discount!

Location:

555 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: 888/NEWSEUM (888/639-7386)

Getting There:

Parking is a serious ordeal around here, but it is possible…if you have the patience.  Metro is hands-down the better option.  Best stop is the Archives/Navy Memoral-Penn Quarter Station.  When you exit the station, turn left and walk up toward Pennsylvania Ave.  Turn left on Pennsylvania, and head toward the Capitol.  Cross Seventh Street and walk one block to the Newseum (at the corner of Pennsylvania Ave. and Sixth Street.)

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