While there is lots to see at the Smithsonian and other D.C. museums, Newseum offers a unique and interactive experience.D.C.’s Newseum is not your typical museum. Rather than the near-silent experience of The Smithsonian and other D.C. area museums, Newseum is an interactive museum which chronicles news and media throughout history. In addition to chronicling the history of journalism, it also explores newer forms of media and how new forms of media such as Social Media have changed how news is spread and understood by the general public. The Newseum also has an excellent photojournalism exhibit which treats visitors to an entire room full of Pulitzer Prize winning photos. The Newseum is very kid friendly, with numerous interactive and fun exhibits such as a 4D film are ideal for children 10 and up, while there are certain exhibits parents of smaller children may want to skip. The museum also has both temporary and permanent exhibits which highlight news and media coverage of specific moments and periods in history. If you decide to visit the Newseum, you may want start your visit by checking out their 4D film, “I-Witness: A 4-D Time Travel Adventure.” This fifteen minute film documents the history of journalism and focuses on smaller news stories that perhaps have become forgotten over the years. During the film, your chair will shake and bubbles will fill the room; if you have kids they’ll love it. The film runs every thirty minutes and is located on the bottom floor, and it is a great way to set the tone for the rest of your visit and gain your kids’ interest and attention. Meanwhile, the Berlin Wall Gallery located on the basement level is home to eight twelve foot high sections of the actual Berlin Wall and is the largest collected portion outside of Germany. On the west side of the wall is colorful graffiti, while the East’s side is whitewashed. The Wall pieces are a bare reminder of the divisions of east and west and the Cold War era. The exhibit also features a guard tower which used to stand close to Checkpoint Charlie, where guards would shoot and kill trespassers. Also on the basement level is the “Inside Today’s FBI” exhibit, one of the more popular exhibitions of the museum. The exhibit displays many of the FBI’s most shocking cases as well as how the Bureau’s methods have changed as technology and crime have evolved. In this exhibit visitors also get to see seized objects such as bomb parts and machine guns while terrorist plots are discussed. This exhibit highlights the media’s role in portraying these types of events while providing insight into how the FBI fights crime. On Level 1 of the museum visitors will find a collection of Pulitzer Prize Photos which showcases every winner of the Prize since 1942. Photos of all kinds can be found in this section, from war photos to more jovial moments in history. Of the more famous and well known photos featured in the exhibit, Babe Ruth’s official bow out and the Iwo Jima flag raising are among the more popular and recognized. The exhibit also features video interviews of the photojournalists whose work is on display. If you have small children, you should note that the graphic nature of some the images and stories might be too strong.
Located on level three is the Journalist Memorial. This section features a two story glass structure which bears the names of reporters, editors, broadcasters and photographers who have lost their lives while on assignment. The names are updated yearly. Currently over 2,200 journalists have been recognized on the structure.
The New Media Gallery on level 4 is one of the more fun parts of the Gallery. The interactive videos and galleries in this section chronicle the media’s evolution across the globe. The New Media Gallery also allows visitors to create their own front page headline with your name and photo that is displayed in other parts of the museum. You also can view breaking news updates and learn how social media has had an effect on some of the past decade’s biggest news stories.
The level 4 9/11 gallery shows the events of the September 11th attacks of 2001. This powerful exhibit includes moving films, objects from ground zero, eye witness accounts and stories as told by journalists. The exhibit displays a piece of the remains of the 360 foot antenna that used to sit upon the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The 9/11 gallery alone may be worth visiting the museum for; the exhibit educates those who are too young to remember the events and brings back the importance to those who still remember. This exhibit also may be too graphic and intense for younger aged children.
The Historic Front Pages Collection on Level 5 is the largest part of the museum, displaying over 300 historic front pages which cover elections, assassinations, wars and other major events worldwide. In the room’s center, famous front pages are stored in drawers which visitors can pull out and read, while on the outside perimeter of the exhibit are war reporting artifacts and more on display. The room in the exhibit is dark to help preserve the newspapers while staff are present to help.
The Newseum also has temporary exhibits that display historical artifacts and document history through the eyes of the media. Through July 31, 2017, visitors can checkout “Louder than words: Rock, Power and Politics.” This exhibit was created together with the Rock and Roll hall of fame and examines the intersection of politics, the news and culture. As Music has challenged the norms of society by delivering antiwar and Civil Rights statements and other messages, this exhibit takes visitors on a historical multimedia journey and features objects such as Bill Clinton’s saxophone and the guitar used by Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock.
In addition to the exhibits, the Newseum also has gifts shops that are among the best in DC. The items for sale are unique and inspired by American history and the exhibits. On the sixth floor is an observation deck. The museum’s Pennsylvania Avenue prime location provides spectacular views of the Mall and Capitol Building and a perfect spot to snap some photos.
The price of admission is perhaps the only negative, general admission for adults 19-64 is $24.95 plus tax, $19.95 for seniors, $14.95 for kids aged 7 and older while kids age 6 and younger get in free. The Newseum offers a 10% discount for college students and military as well as for AAA members. The Newseum might be a little pricey as far as museums go, but once inside visitors get what they paid for. Newseum is located on 555 Pennsylvania Ave Northwest, a short walk from the Archives/NavyYard/Penn Quarter metro stop on the green and yellow lines. The museum is open daily from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M.