a long-awaited day at the newseum

Remember that one Sunday when I was supposed to go to the Newseum?!  Remember when I ended up doing absolutely NOTHING instead??  Well, I was determined to not let that unproductive-ness happen again so soon, so I put on some comfortable shoes, packed a bag of snacks, and headed to the Newseum for Attempt #2.

An imposing, mostly glass building, the Newseum is conveniently located on the corner of Pennsylvania & Constitution, lending itself to stunning views of the Capitol.  (It is also very visible from the steps of the Capitol–a metaphor for the role of media in the US government, perhaps??)  (Another fun fact: the filming of Transformers 3 occurred right in front of the Newseum, so if you watch the movie, be on the lookout for an action scene in front of a huge glass building next to the Canadian embassy.  You heard it here first, my friends.)  Unfortunately, I picked a rainy, gray day to visit the Newseum, so my view was not as great as it could have been.

Admission to the Newseum is a pricey $21.95, but in my opinion, completely worth it.  What kind of things can you expect to see??

  • The biggest section of the Berlin Wall outside of Germany.

Being the Germa-Nerd that I am, I thought this was really cool.  It’s neat to see the contrast between the West side of the wall and the East.  There’s also an actual guard tower that was a part of the wall which you can walk into and check out.  The wall and the tower left me pondering two things: how on EARTH did they get a huge tower into the building; and also, didn’t the wall come down while most of the media was looking the other way?  Nevertheless, the Berlin Wall exhibit is very well done, and an impressive display of recent history.

  • A selection of athlete photographs from Sports Illustrated.

I thought this exhibit was okay.  I wandered around until I found the token Michael Phelps picture, but for someone who has seen him swim a hundred times, it didn’t portray him in any unusual or unexpected light.

  • A hip-shakin’, pelvis-thrustin’  Elvis exhibit!

This was the King of all exhibits!  (Ha.)  No but seriously, the Newseum does a great job illustrating the impact of Elvis on the media, and in return, the impact of the media on Elvis’ life and career.  They had some totally random Elvis artifacts–his American Express card; a police receipt for the extra security personnel employed around the hospital during Lisa Marie Presley’s birth–but they were all interesting.

  • A 9/11 tribute.

This is all that remains of the flag pole on one of the Twin Towers.

This is obviously a very moving exhibit, made even more difficult by a video in a dark room recounting the experiences of journalists around the towers.  Looking at the twisted, mangled heap of metal, it’s hard to not think about what happened to those who couldn’t make it out.  Behind the pole is a wall covered with the front pages of newspapers published around the world on September 12.

Perhaps not the most eloquent of headlines, but one expects nothing less from the San Francisco Examiner.

  • A gallery of the Pulitzer Prize winning photographs from 1946 to today.

Did you know that a picture of Rowdy Gaines won a Pulitzer??  (Swim community- represent!)  This exhibit was fabulous.  There are so many stunning, sad pictures, with really interesting, explanatory blurbs accompanying them.  Unfortunately, the gallery is awkwardly set up, with narrow aisles and low ceilings.  It was easily the most crowded exhibit in the Newseum, and seemed to have more strollers and screaming toddlers than a Toys R Us.  I wish they had a photo book of all the pictures available in the gift shop, so that I could have taken it home and enjoyed them from the comfort of my couch.

 

I really enjoyed my time at the Newseum.  While it takes an unashamedly firm position that the media does nothing but good, and that most positive events in history have occurred thanks to the press, the Newseum does a good job of highlighting the symbiotic relationship between journalism and the world on which it reports.  I easily spent 5 hours wandering around, and could have come back the next day.  (Tickets are good for two days!)  I think that if you are in DC for more than three days, the Newseum is a must-see.

 

What is the best museum you’ve ever been to?

I would say this is a toss-up between the Louvre and the Met.  The Louvre wins for best museum setting (it’s in a palace!), and the Met wins for the most old Egyptian artifacts.  Sometimes I just wish museums weren’t so big–I get tired and grumpy before I can see everything in them!

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One Response

  1. RIGHT?! =]

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