Washington DC is full of museums and we spent most of our 4 days there visiting as many as we could. We had heard great things about the Newseum and it did not disappoint – it was one of our favorites!
After buying our tickets (while most of the museums in DC are free, there is an admission cost to the Newseum – but it is worth it!) and watching the quick introduction video, we began to explore. The first exhibit we came to was about the Berlin Wall, complete with actual pieces of the wall! We had visited the actual wall while we were in Berlin for a day, but seeing it here was interesting because the exhibit talked about how the media played a part in communication between the two sides of the wall until it fell in 1989.
From there, we headed up to the top floor of the museum – they tell you the best way to see it is to start at the top and work your way down. On the 6th floor there is a rooftop terrace with a view of the Capitol building! They also have an exhibit of today’s front pages, where they have that day’s newspapers from every state.
The next exhibit really gets into the history of the news, with displays all about the different forms of news media. And they had front page newspapers from hundreds of important days in history, going all the way back to the 1400s. It was fascinating to look through all of them, from the Titanic sinking, to women getting the right to vote, to the headlines from the end of World War II.
Next was a very moving exhibit about 9/11. They had dozens of front page papers from around the world and the actual antenna from the top of the World Trade Center that was damaged in the attacks. And there was a video with footage and interviews from reporters who were there at the World Trade Center risking their lives to report from ground zero. I was 12 years old on 9/11 and like most Americans I remember where I was when I heard about the attacks but hearing from the point of view of the reporters gave a whole new perspective.
On the next floor was a gallery with a map of World Press Freedom showing how freedom of press varies greatly around the world, as well as a memorial to more than 2,000 journalists who lost their lives on the job. Then there was an interesting gallery about the development of radio, television and internet and how they changed the way information spread.
Next was an exhibit about all of the First Dogs of America – a welcome light-hearted exhibit after some emotionally heavy ones! It was neat to see photos or the Presidents’ dogs and read short little stories about them, like how President Gerald R. Ford got his golden retriever, Liberty. Ford’s photographer got the dog from a breeder who wanted more information about the new owner, “Does he rent or own?” Wanting to keep the President’s identity a secret he replied “I guess you could say he lives in public housing.”
And then we came to one of the most fun parts of the Museum – the NBC Interactive Newsroom where we starred in our own news broadcasts! They have actual cameras set up to record you in front of a green screen as you read your lines off of a monitor and then play it back for you. Let me tell you, it was a lot harder than it looked!
The last exhibit was the Pulitzer Prize photo gallery, full of incredible photographs that have won over the last century!
There was so much to see at the Newseum that we were there right up until it closed that evening. A quote on the wall in one of the galleries really illustrated what the Newseum is about: “News is history in the making.” A mix of history and current events, its exhibits were so interesting to explore!