The Newseum’s recent announcement about its financial difficulties struck fear into the hearts of its many devoted fans, who apparently don’t visit often enough to keep the behemoth afloat. If you live here and you’ve never been, plan to go soon, before it’s too late.
Merely walking by this popular attraction gives you access to one of its most treasured displays — today’s front pages. Of course, so does a visit to http://www.newseum.org/todaysfrontpages/, but these are not mere pictures like they are online — they’re real and full sized! There’s only room for a select few, but inside, on the sixth floor, you’ll see pages from all 50 states and some foreign cities as well. The online aggregate includes up to 800 front pages from around the world.
Once inside, your path will be guided by the elevator at the six-story behemoth, which insists you go to the top floor and make your way down. Helpful employees are stationed at egress points along the way where they gently check with visitors to make sure they have seen all the exhibits before leaving the floor. This can be helpful, as the unusual shape of the building and the extensive use of wide-open, empty spaces can make for confusion among the uninitiated.
Those perplexed by the building’s layout may be further so by an outdoor exhibit on the 6th floor. The Pennsylvania Avenue Timeline displays pictures of events that took place on this storied street, including presidential funerals and inaugural parades. But really it’s a spot for tourists to take selfies with the National Gallery of Art in the background.
The Newseum is chock-full of fascinating exhibits, but some of the most memorable are the three-dimensional ones — the real, live pieces of history.
A section of the Berlin Wall is preserved on fifth floor along with a chunk of the guard tower that was used to try to prevent East Berliners from escaping to the West. Visitors are allowed to touch a piece of the wall and go inside the tower.
In fact, you can teleport back to postwar Berlin via a seven-minute virtual reality experience. On a rainy summer weekday, lines for the six available stations were about 20 minutes long, which, according to employees standing by, is about as good as it gets. Lines might be shorter if the Newseum charged a fee for this popular experience. At $10 per ticket, the Newseum could add about $1.5 million into its budget per year — a sum that could mean the difference between life and death for this beloved attraction.
A 9/11 exhibit shows a large, twisted piece of metal and concrete that was once part of the World Trade Center, as well as a gallery wall of front pages the day after the attacks.
Journalists are under attack more than ever these days. Although we have become used to the verbal attacks we witness daily at the hands of our own government, the Newseum reminds us of the horrific physical attacks suffered by the men and women who go into war zones every day, risking their lives to bring knowledge to those masses who toil away in cubicles in tall, glass office buildings. Many have died as a result of the risks they have taken, and more than 2,300 are depicted on the memorial wall.
With its many studios showing iconic images and footage of unforgettable events, its thousands of newspaper stories ensconced behind glass, and its Pulitzer Prize-winning photos, video footage and cartoons, the Newseum brings the world to the corner of 6th and Pennsylvania. Don’t miss your chance to see it.
The Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.; Hours: 9 to 5 Monday-Saturday, 10 to 5 Sundays, closed New Year’s Day, Inauguration Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day; Tickets: adults $24.95, seniors 65 and up $19.95, children 7 to 18 $14.95, 6 and under free.