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Established April 18, 1997
Location 555 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C., USA
Director Joe Urschel, Exec. Director
Public transit access Archives–Navy Memorial–Penn Quarter (Washington Metro)

The Newseum is an interactive museum of news and journalism located at 555 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, D.C. The seven-level, 250,000 square foot museum features 15 theaters and 14 galleries. The Newseum's Berlin Wall Gallery includes the largest display of sections of the Berlin Wall outside of Germany. The Today's Front Pages Gallery presents daily front pages from more than 80 international newspapers.

Other galleries present topics including news history, the September 11 attacks, the First Amendment, world press freedom and the history of the Internet, TV and radio. It opened at its first location in Rosslyn, Virginia, on April 18, 1997, where it admitted visitors without charge.

Its mission is "to help the public and the news media understand one another better" and to "raise public awareness of the important role of a free press in a democratic society".

In five years, the original Newseum attracted more than 2.25 million visitors. The Newseum's operations are funded by the Freedom Forum, a nonpartisan foundation dedicated to "free press, free speech and free spirit for all people". The new Newseum, which does charge an admission fee, has become one of Washington's most popular destinations, and its high definition television studios hosts news broadcasts including ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos.



In 2000, Freedom Forum decided to move the Newseum from its location in Arlington County, Virginia, across the Potomac River to Washington, D.C. The original Newseum was closed on 3 March 2002, to allow its staff to concentrate on building the new, larger museum. The new museum, built at a cost of $450 million, opened its doors to the public on April 11, 2008.[1][2]

Tim Russert, a Newseum trustee, said, "The Newseum made a pretty good impression in Arlington, but at your new location on Pennsylvania Avenue, you will make an indelible mark."

After obtaining a landmark location at Pennsylvania Avenue and Sixth Street NW, the Newseum board selected noted exhibit designer Ralph Appelbaum, who had designed the original Newseum in Arlington, Virginia, and architect James Stewart Polshek, who designed the Rose Center for Earth and Space with Todd Schliemann at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, to work on the new project.

This design team had the following goals:

Highlights of the building design unveiled October 2002 include a façade featuring a "window on the world", 57 ft × 78 ft (17 m × 24 m), which looks out on Pennsylvania Avenue and the National Mall while letting the public see inside to the visitors and displays. It features the 45 words of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, etched into a stone panel facing Pennsylvania Avenue.

One feature carried over from the prior Arlington site was the Journalists Memorial, a glass sculpture which lists the names of 1,900 journalists from around the world killed in the line of duty. It is updated and rededicated every year.

The museum website is updated daily with images and PDF versions of newspaper front pages from around the world. Images are replaced daily, but an archive of front pages from notable events since 2001 is also available. Hard copies of the front pages are featured in a gallery within the museum.[3] Unlike its original museum in Arlington, the new Newseum charges admission fees to the general public.[4]

Jerry Frieheim, a 1956 graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, was the first executive director of the Newseum and claims to have coined the name.[5]

In October 2009, the Newseum ended 29 full-time positions, which represented about 13% of their total personnel at that time. As of December 2009, the group has now reduced its staff by 23% through its history. President Kenneth Paulson stated that the "cuts are spread throughout the organization, but should not affect the experience of museum visitors". He also said that overall month-by-month attendance had increased in 2009 compared to 2008.[6]


The Newseum's atrium. At the top is a mock-up of a communications satellite; below that is a news helicopter.

The 643,000-square-foot (60,000 m²) Newseum includes a 90-foot- (27 m) high atrium, seven levels of displays, 15 theaters, a dozen major galleries, many more smaller exhibits, two broadcast studios, and an expanded interactive newsroom.

The building features an oval, 500-seat "Forum" theater; approximately 145,500 square feet (14,000 m²) gross of housing facing Sixth and C streets; 75,000 square feet (7,000 m²) of office space for the staff of the Newseum and Freedom Forum; and more than 11,000 square feet (1,000 m²) of conference center space on two levels located directly above the Newseum Atrium. The building features glass hydraulic elevators that are the tallest in the world. A curving glass memorial to slain journalists is located on the ground floor.[7]

Showcase environments throughout the museum are climate controlled by four microclimate control devices. These units provide a flow of humidified air to the cases through a system of distribution pipes.

This Week with George Stephanopoulos made its inaugural broadcast from its new studio in the Newseum on April 20, 2008.[8]

Critical response

Author and political commentator Thomas Frank wrote for Le Monde that the original building "symbolises 30% profits, colour weather maps and a union-free workplace." He argued that the structure merely celebrates "mediocrity", in which he believes that "public journalism been refined to perfection... a perfect synthesis of cultural populism and corporate predation."[9] He also criticized the Newseum's original location in his 2000 book One Market Under God:

Maybe Arlington is where journalism has come to die, in a place as distant as could be found from the urban maelstrom and the rural anger that once nourished it, within easy reach of the caves of state, sunk deep in the pockets of corporate power, here where busloads of glassy-eyed, well-dressed high schoolers from the affluent suburbs of Virginia can play anchorman on its grave.[10]

The New York Times' Architecture Review panned the second Newseum building as "the latest reason to lament the state of contemporary architecture in" Washington, D.C.[11] Of the Newseum's actual content, the Times stated that "a good portion of the museum’s earnestly sought attention is well deserved",[12] but "the museum’s preening does call for some skepticism".[13] USA Today repeated "mixed" reviews of the building's architecture and cited the number of visitors as a sign that the Newseum is a "success as a destination in the museum-rich national capital".[14]

An exhibit at the Newseum discusses the "effort to avoid bias" by journalists. It includes a 2006 Gallup poll in which 44% of Americans called the media "too liberal" while only 19% found it "too conservative" as well as other comments on possible political media bias, many of which come from Fox News contributors. Jonathan Schwarz of Mother Jones criticized the exhibit and called it an example of corporate propaganda from Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. He also argued that most of the U.S. news media is controlled by businesses who shut out stories that would counter their interests.[15] Kevin D. Williamson of National Review Online defended the Newseum and called the criticism "nonsense concentrate". He argued that media-owning companies have an interest in promoting non-conservative causes such as protectionism and of shifting their health care costs over to the government.[16]

James Bowman of National Review Online criticised the Newseum after its opening for being overly stylistic and superficial, writing that it focuses on headline-based reporting of major world events rather than details of the events themselves. He commented, "[a]ll this interacting is supposed to make learning fun, but like most such exercises it does so only by taking away most of what makes it learning." He also stated that the targeted advertising towards children was "squaring the cultural circle" and was unethical.[17]

Journalist Alan Rusbridger of The Guardian stated that visitors would have "a great family day out". He considered some of the exhibits, such as a red dress worn by Helen Thomas, as "faintly ridiculous" while praising others such as a large chunk of the actual Berlin Wall. Although writing that the Newseum displayed "self-glorification, pomposity and vanity" in an "overwhelmingly American-centric" way, he described the building design as "uplifting" and generally commended the features.[18]

Jack Shafer, co-editor of Slate, has criticized the Newseum's exhibit about the career of the late NBC reporter Tim Russert. He argued that Russert's "mundane" work-space was not worthy of preservation in a museum and that Russert's accomplishments "begin at being a pretty good interviewer and end at having a lot of celebrity friends." He concluded that the Newseum is "a place where journalist celebrities begin to be worshipped as miracle-producing saints."[19]

See also


  1. ^ Gaynair, Gillian (2008-02-07). "Newseum Sets Opening Date". Washington Business Journal.  
  2. ^ Zongker, Brett (2008-04-10). ""Newseum to Open in New Home Friday"". Associated Press. Retrieved 2008-04-11.  
  3. ^ "Archived Pages". Newseum. Retrieved 2008-06-22.  
  4. ^ "Tickets". Newseum. Retrieved 2008-04-30.  
  5. ^ "Mizzou: The Magazine of the Mizzou Alumni Association, Winter 2009". University of Missouri Alumni Association. Retrieved 2008-11-18.  
  6. ^ Trescott, Jacqueline (December 2, 2009). "Newseum trims its staff once again". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 5, 2010.  
  7. ^ Lebovich, William (2008-09-03). ""Newseum by Polshek"". ArchitectureWeek. Retrieved 2009-05-20.  
  8. ^ Venkataraman, Nitya (2008-04-10). ""New Museum Tells Media Story"". ABC News. Retrieved 2008-04-11.  
  9. ^ Thomas Frank (August 1999). "US ’newseum’ to mediocrity". Le Monde. Retrieved January 5, 2010.  
  10. ^ Thomas Frank (2000). One Market Under God. Doubleday. pp. 340. ISBN 9780385495035.  
  11. ^ Ourousoff, Nicolai (2008-04-11). "Get Me Rewrite: A New Monument to Press Freedom". Architecture Review (The New York Times). Retrieved 2008-04-24.  
  12. ^ Rothstein, Edward (2008-04-11). "Chasing the News: Mark Twain’s Inkwell to Blogger’s Slippers". pp. 1. Retrieved 2008-04-24.  
  13. ^ Rothstein, Edward (2008-04-11). "Chasing the News: Mark Twain’s Inkwell to Blogger’s Slippers". pp. 2. Retrieved 2008-04-24.  
  14. ^ Puente, Maria (2008-04-03). "Massive Newseum opens window on journalism". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-04-30.  
  15. ^ Schwarz, Jonathan (April 14, 2008). ""Bias" At The New Newseum". Mother Jones. Retrieved January 4, 2010.  
  16. ^ Williamson, Kevin D. (April 16, 2008). "Newseum's Bias Discussion". National Review Online. Retrieved January 4, 2010.  
  17. ^ Bowman, James (April 11, 2008). "Media Monument". National Review Online. Retrieved January 4, 2009.  
  18. ^ Alan Rusbridger (2 April 2008). "Washington DC's Newseum opens its doors". The Guardian: OrganGrinder. Retrieved 4 January 2010.  
  19. ^ Jack Shafer (October 8, 2009). "The Newseum's Tim Russert Shrine". Slate. Retrieved January 5, 2010.  

Further reading

External links

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