ABC News reported recently on the opening of the Newseum, the museum of and monument to the news, which celebrated its grand opening this month in Washington, DC.
Inside, via print, video, audio and digital media spread over seven floors of exhibits, galleries and theaters, the Newseum aims to tell the story of world news coverage through the lens of an ever-changing industry.
It is a fair bet that the Newseum is unlike any museum you have visited before.
Hold up. “…unlike any museum you have visited before“? It really annoys me that they totally neglect to mention that the Newseum lived across the river in Arlington, VA for years before this grand (re)opening. I loved that place. A mysterious concrete globe, reminiscent of The Daily Planet from Superman’s Metropolis, nestled among the condos and office towers along the Potomac, overlooking Georgetown. I worked a couple blocks away, back in those dot-com glory days. And when I wasn’t too busy animating the company logo in Flash, playing Star Trek pinball, or downloading gigs of music from Napster, I would take a walk up to the Newseum and check out the exhibits.
One of the first things you’d see (at least coming from the direction that I did) was several sections of the Berlin wall, covered with colorful scrawls of spraypaint, standing tall and firm, but rendered ineffective in their new setting. A pedestrian ramp led you effortlessly past the once great barrier, toward the monument to freedom of speech and the press that waited at the top of the hill. Interesting statues and artifacts lined the way, including a boat that carried a boy to the U.S. from Cuba, and some relic from the days when women fought for their vote, which I can’t remember the details of. My favorite was at the top, actually past the entrance I think, on the plaza at the base of the tall glass tower that housed the Gannet Company. It was an assemblage of dozens of clear planks of glass, arranged in a long, ascending curve, that refracted the sunlight into a swarm of rainbows. I’m sure I have photographs of it all on a Geocities website somewhere…
The arrangement inside echoed the spherical shape of the exterior, with a 2-story globe in the center atrium, encircled by layers of spiraling LED news scrolls. Various galleries and interactive “air studio” exhibits filled the surrounding areas. Rooms full of Pulitzer-winning photographs and other news memorabilia were among the attractions, and mobs of school kids would hustle around the place, maybe interested, maybe just excited to be on the loose for an afternoon field trip.
The new version, in DC-proper, right down the street from the White House, is reported to have “seven floors of exhibits, galleries and theaters”, and I’m sure it’s awesome. But they shouldn’t forget their roots, when they were a scrappy young player, on the outskirts of town, honing their game and prepping for the big-time. I know I won’t.
Photos c/o dbking and mj*laflaca via Flickr. Some rights reserved.