/ The DC Traveler
Washington DC — By Jon Rochetti on July 12, 2010 at 12:05 am
Filed under: Attractions, museums, News, newspapers, television

The Newseum Chronicles The Press and Our History

Plan on spending most of the day at the Newseum in Washington DC as you will be intrigued by the thousands of artifacts, newspapers, memorabilia and video clips on display.

Man on Moon - Newseum As my newest must see museum in the District, the Newseum not only tells the story and history of news reporting, journalism and the evolution of the news media, but is also a chronicle all of the major events in global history.

It’s almost impossible to enter any gallery and not be immediately drawn to view something of interest.  History, science, politics, sports, celebrity news, crime, war, health, entertainment and more are topics explored through the expansive Newseum collection.

The 5-level 643,00 square-foot museum is easy to navigate and well organized.  The numerous galleries cover an array of topics including:

  • The News History Gallery is one of the highlights of the Newseum. It displays more than 350 front page newspapers dating back to the earliest newspaper report from a 1541 earthquake report.  Events such as the dissolution of the Union, prohibition, the dropping of the atomic bomb to end World War II, the famous Dewey Defeats Truman Chicago Daily Tribune front page and the landing of Apollo 11 on the moon are available to view.  I found myself almost unable to leave this gallery as I read  front page after front page.  And not only are the big stories of interest, the secondary stories on the front pages are also fun to read.
  • The 9/11 Gallery is a somber gallery with 127 front pages of newspapers from around the globe displayed on one wall. Additionally, a mangled piece of the 360-foot TV and radio antenna from the World Trade North, a piece of the Pentagon, part of United Flight 93 are also on display.  A very moving video, and a collection of photos and photographic equipment from photographer Bill Biggert are also on display. Biggert lived near the twin towers and left his wife that morning after hearing about the first plane crashing into the tower. He intended to shoot photos but never was seen alive again.  But his camera and film was later found and documented the last minutes of his life and the collapse of the second tower.
  • Tim Russert’s office (1950-2008) was moved to the Newseum after his untimely death in June of 2008.  As the moderator of the Sunday news program “Meet the Press” and a mainstay on TV during election day coverage, his now famous “Florida” sign from the Bush-Gore election coverage of 2000 is just one of the many artifacts form this reporter and commentator.

Elvis - Newseum Tim Russert - Florida

  • Elvis! – The King lives on at the Newseum in a collection of big screen video clips, photos and memorabilia including his 1957 Harley motorcycle, his America Express credit card and several costumes.  The exhibit covers Elvis from his youth to his untimely death in 1977. (though February 14, 2011)
  • Berlin Wall and East German Guard Tower Gallery which shows 8 sections of a piece of the famous Iron Curtain wall, one side from East Berlin which is unmarked, while the other side,which was on the free West Berlin side, is full of graffiti.
  • G-Men and Journalists shows how the news media covered crime and law enforcement, including infamous criminals and crimes such as Bonnie and Clyde, the Unabomber, prohibition era gangsters such as Al Capone and Pretty Boy Floyd along with his shotgun, as well as the Oklahoma City bombing and other terrorist attacks.
  • Pulitzer Prize Photographs Gallery highlights each of the award winning photos from 1942 until today.  Some are poignant, others are tragic, and yet others are almost not viewable, such as the photo of the South Vietnamese National Chief of Police executing a suspected Viet Cong assassination and revenge platoon leader in front of an AP photographer.

News History Gallery - Newseum TV Studio - Newseum

  • Internet, TV and Radio Gallery highlights the evolution of electronic news from the early developments of wireless to the 24-hour news cycle and the Internet. Highlights include artifacts from legendary reporter Edward R. Morrow, film clips of major news events including FDR’s inauguration, the assignation of JFK, the moon landing and Hurricane Katrina coverage.  This a is yet another gallery which had me watching clip after clip of famous news events, some before my time, others that I recall seeing as they happened.
  • First Amendment Gallery covers the five freedoms guaranteed by the Fist Amendment of the Constitution – religion, speech, assembly, press and petition.
  • Newseum’s Master Control allows you to watch as Newseum engineers control the museum’s 70 LCD screens, 40 live news feeds and the museum multiple theaters.
  • Today’s Front Page is an 80-foot long display of 80 different newspaper front pages from every state and a coupe dozen foreign countries.  The display shows how editors differ in reporting which news is front page and how journalist describe similar stories.
  • First Dogs takes a playful look at Presidential dogs from George Washington’s two dozen dogs to President Obama’s Bo.

The Newseum also boasts 130 interactive stations, a 99 television set collection, 76 film cameras on display, and 15 theaters.

9-11 Gallery - Newseum

For the video fan, there’s plenty to keep you occupied.  Start at the Orientation Theater for the 7-minute award-winning film What’s News? narrated by Charles Osgood.

Sports fans should visit the Sports Theater and view the film Press Box: The History of Sports Reporting,” a 25-minute documentary highlighting  some of the greatest moments in sports history and sports reporting.

The 120-seat Documentary Theater is showing Putting News in Perspective, one of the changing collection of award-winning and historic documentaries.

And the 500-seat Annenberg Theater offers changing screenings of 3-D, 4-D and conventional films and offers a “you-are-there” experience of major news events.

The Knight Studios are a great behind-the-scenes tour of working television studios.  Each Sunday, ABC News broadcasts the live news interview program “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” from the Newseum’s Pennsylvania Avenue studio with its recognizable view of the US Capitol in the background.  The studio is surprisingly tiny, only 1,100 sq. feet, shocking many visitors by it’s small size (and rather cold temperatures.)  Brief tours are offered periodically most days, just check the sign in front of the studio for tour times.

For a quick break, take a walk outside on the Pennsylvania Avenue terrace, and read about the history of the famous street and the major events that have happened along it form inaugurations, parades and citizen protests.  Enjoy the unique view of the US Capitol Building and some great photo opportunities as well.

The Newseum is one amazing, informative and fun museum, one that will be hard to see everything in just one day. Good thing your admission tickets is good for visiting on two consecutive days.

Newseum – 555 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC (map)

Dates & Times – Daily – 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., except major holidays.

Tickets – Adults – $19.95, Seniors – $17.95, children 7-18 – $12.95, under 7 are free.  Tickets are good for two consecutive days and are available online. Order tickets online and get 10% off.

Metro Subway Station – Archives/Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter Station – Green and Yellow lines, then a 2-block walk, or use the DC Circulator bus.

Parking – Limited metered street parking and area paid garage parking is available.

Images – from personal collection – ©2010 – Jon Rochetti

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