As we entered Newseum, now in the middle of the action at 555 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC instead of in Virginia, Ruth and I were told that our tickets were good for 2 full days. What’s that about? I wondered. Four hours later I understood. We had seen a lot but were far from finished–with any level. There are 6 of these.
Newseum’s mission is simple–to collect the news–and that effort begins even before you walk through its door. A bank of newspapers lines the sidewalk in front with pedestrians stopping to read a few headlines. Of course, tourists like me immediately wonder if their hometown is represented. Both were. There’s a very good chance that if it’s not there it will be on Level 6 in the Front Pages Gallery. On the street, all but Antarctica among the continents is represented. As I glanced at the front pages for that day, October 19, of O Estado de Sao Paulo and The Namibian, I wondered if Antarctica even had a newspaper. If is does, it will be included at Newseum at some point.
Encouraged to see an orientation film or 2 before riding the enormous glass elevator to Level 6 to work our way down, we sampled 3 of the films being offered just that day. My favorite, by far, was What’s News provided by the Hearst Corporation and narrated by Charles Osgood. Just watching the films available in Newseum’s 15 theaters would have taken almost 4 hours. The one I most regret not seeing, not even finding, is Press Box: The History of Sports Reporting, which includes some of the greatest moments in sports history.
Speaking of Hearst, I asked one of the green-jacketed staff who’s responsible for Newseum, as in who mainly provides money and exhibits, and he went kind of blank, as I did after 4 hours, and mumbled ABC and private ownership before his voice trailed off. Over the course of my visit, however, I saw the name of every organization connected with news gathering somewhere–Annenberg, The New York Times, Comcast, etc. Ruth was especially thrilled to see an AAUW connection in several places. A past president of this organization–American Association of University Women–like an Asian tourist, Ruth had me take her picture with its name each time she saw AAUW. My favorite is her emerging from a voting booth.
The thing about Newseum is that in attempting to cover the entire spectrum of news for the past 500 years and largely succeeding, it’s far more than a 2 day adventure. After we left, pretty exhausted, I looked over the enticing exhibits we didn’t even find and sighed deeply.
Newseum, definitely a 5 Compass attraction, simply can’t be covered in one blog. So, our personal best will continue tomorrow. In the meantime, here’s a challenge. The First Amendment Gallery challenges visitors to name our, as in US citizens, 5 guaranteed freedoms. Think it over and list them.
ps Sad news. Newseum will officially close at the end of 2019. It hopes to reopen elsewhere. Its current location on Pennsylvania Avenue is not financially sustainable.