Since DC is a mecca of free and amazing museums, one might ask why you would ever pay for the privilege of entering. I’ve found the answer:
The Newseum, located within spitting distance of one of the best views of the Capital, is (as you might have guessed) is a museum dedicated to telling the story of the stories. It’s an exhibit of all things media – starting with the newspapers of the revoltuionary war, up through the political ads of the 1900s and on towards the ‘new’ internet media of today.
I might be biased (I did spend many hours toiling in a windowless basement to help put out my college newspaper), but I found the Newseum to be outstanding. And I’m not a museum person.
So what sets the Newseum apart?
It’s informative and interesting
The Newseum is choc-a-bloc full of fascinating exhibits. The displays tell the story of how the media impacted and reacted to some of the biggest events of history.
Some of the most impressive exhibits include the largest collection of the Berlin wall outside of Germany, a moving tribute to the events of 9/11 featuring the radio antenna from the top of one of the fallen towers, and a collection of newspaper front pages from throughout over 300 years of history.
It’s not too hard on the eyes
As frosting on the cake, the Newseum is housed in a beautiful light filled building which allows it to properly showcase some of its impressive collection. It’s also located just down the street from the Capital – a fact which the capitalize on with a giant rooftop walkway ideal for snapping photos.
It’s well organized
One of the great frustrations I have with some museums is when they lack a clear visiting plan. It oftentimes detracts from the narratives or causes you to inadvertently miss important sites. Luckily the Newseum is run like a well oiled machine.
Visitors are first ushered into a theater for a short film which explains the layout and offers tips for the best visiting path. It lays out important highlights and explains any detours that might be necessary.
After that, the path of the visit is clear. After exploring the ground floor, you take a large glass elevator to the roof and work your way down to see everything else.
No doubt, the Newseum tackles some serious subjects, but it also helps keep spirits high by showing the lighter side of the media. From bloopers in the bathroom (see photo above) to a special exhibit on Presidential Pooches, these fun touches really add a lot to the experience. Other fun highlights: clips from late night talk shows and an exhibit on election satire.
One of my favorite exhibits highlighted the classic Saturday Night Live Coverage of the Presidential Race. They even had the famous costumes won by Tina Fey and Amy Poler as they imitated Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton during the late night show.
The Newsuem is open seven days a week. Tickets can be purchased at the door and are good for two days of consecutive entrance.
Disclaimer: Ray and I received complimentary tickets to the Newseum in exchange for my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.