Sunday, February 13, 2011

A visit to the Newseum in Washington D.C.

We spent several hours today at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. I had bought the Groupon a couple months ago and of course we got around to using it the very last weekend before it expired.  Therefore, I was expecting huge crowds.  I didn’t realize that in addition to all the Groupon procrastinators, a bunch of people from the Teach for America conference would also be attending.  I was surprisingly impressed that when we walked up to the Newseum they had two tables set up outside (one for Groupon redemptions and one for Teach for America folks) and we were in the museum and at the complimentary coat check in no time. 

They recommend you start on the bottom level with the introductory film and a couple of exhibits then take the elevator to the sixth floor and work your way down.

News helicopter in the atrium

Section of the Berlin Wall
I don't want to spoil the visit for you, but will share a few of the key highlights.  After, the introductory video you can see the exhibit with part of the original Berlin Wall and an East German Guard Tower - the Newseum says that this is the “largest public display outside Germany”. 

Also on that level is the temporary exhibit "G-Men and Journalists" exhibit with many artifacts on loan from the FBI (such as the Unabomber’s Montana cabin – so tiny,  and espionage tools that spies used).   

When you get to the top floor (level 6), you can go outside on the terrace and see gorgeous views of the U.S. Capitol and downtown D.C. 

Covering Katrina is an exhibit that tells the story of the hurricane through the eyes of reporters, including pages from their notebooks.  

Markings after a building was inspected to determine if there were any dead bodies.

9/11 Gallery has front pages showing how different newspapers covered the tragedy and an antenna from the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

Some other interesting exhibits are:

  • Great books including a page from the Nuremberg Bible
  • First amendment gallery which presents various issues around first amendment protection
  • Journalists memorial 
  • World press freedom map
  • Interactive newsroom where you can see if you have what it takes to be a reporter 
  • Ethics center where you can answer questions of ethics that journalists may face
  • Collection of Pulitzer Prize photographs 

We finished the day at the 4-d movie "I-Witness" which shares the experiences of three journalists.  I thought the most interesting part was the story of Nelly Bly who in the late 1800s faked insanity to go undercover and report what was really going on at a mental institution for women.  Her reporting brought attention and more money to the issue. 

We spent several hours exploring the museum and would highly recommend it.   And through February they are having a special promotion on admission – buy one get one free! Just print off the "Love me tender" (seriously) coupon from their website.

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