Newseum Review

Photo courtesy of the Newseum 

Useful Info:

  • Collections: Contemporary material concerning 20th and 21st century history as well as changing exhibitions about major news events.
  • City: Washington DC, USA.
  • Opening hours: Everyday 9am-5pm. Tickets are valid for two days in a row.
  • Price: $23 regular, $19 concessions, $14 youth, free for children under 6.
  • Website

The Newseum was highly recommended to me by several of my friends who had been there before, so I decided to include it in my DC itinerary. I went there by myself and it took me approximately one and a half hour to visit it entirely, though one could spend more time using all the interactive equipment and looking at the display more in depth. Before going any further, I would like to apologize for the lack of personal pictures. I still had my old phone, and it was broken and running out of battery that day.

Photo courtesy of the Newseum

Upon entering the museum, I was given a brochure that served as a museum map. The Newseum has a suggested visiting itinerary, which is something I appreciated, especially since it is not a museum in the traditional sense of the term and therefore there was no particular section I was excited to see more than another. Therefore, I followed the plan and started my visit in the basement. The most interesting part of that floor is the Berlin Wall gallery (pictured above), which features part of the actual Berlin Wall including a guard tower. This floor also features a changing exhibition space (that was about the Baby Boom generation when I visited but is now over), a gallery on the FBI; which I did not find particularly striking, and a small section on comics.

The visit continues on the 6th floor, where you can admire the view on Pennsylvania avenue and the Capitol from a terrace which also includes a timeline of this iconic street. Inside, there are displays of front pages of the day from all over the world. I enjoyed those two parts of the Newseum, as I thought they were good uses of the space there and were not overwhelming like some other parts of it. Speaking of which, the last section of this floor is dedicated to changing exhibitions. The current one is about the Vietnam War, and it features panels and panels of written material. I did not read everything in depth because I’m not that interested in the subject.

From there on, I worked my way down. The fifth floor is mainly composed of the News Corp, a large galleries featuring front row pages from great historical events. It also has a gallery with reproductions of important books and a theater. I did not stop at any of the theaters because film is not really my favorite media in museums, especially when it’s informative rather than artistic.

Photo courtesy of the Newseum

The 4th floor was the one I found least interesting, although it had many things to see, including an interactive gallery about the internet and new media, an exhibition on civil rights, a temporary display on the death of Abraham Lincoln, and the 9/11 gallery (pictured above). This was the part I liked the most; it had newspaper front pages from all over the world and a part of the antenna; but overall I thought this floor was a little bit too American-centered especially since American history is not a subject I am very passionate about.

The third and second floors are both very interactive and include another theater and a newsroom you can play in. Some of my personal highlights on these floors are the Journalists Memorial, a reminder that journalism is still a dangerous profession; and the Freedom of Speech map, an interesting infographic that has to be taken with a grain of salt but is well designed and well explained.

Last but not least, the first floor (or the ground floor four all of you non Americans). It has yet another movie theater I did not visit, but what makes this floor and more generally the whole Newseum famous is the Pulitzer prize photographs gallery. I has every single picture that ever won the Pulitzer price and the story behind some of them. It is probably the most popular and best displayed gallery of the Newseum. I was not as enthusiastic about it as some of my friends were but I think overall it is very well looked upon.

Photo courtesy of the Newseum

Overall, I was a little bit disappointed by the Newseum. Keep in mind that this is my personal opinion as a 20 something non American female who is not that interested in the news. I liked some galleries and displays but one visit was enough for me and I would not go back. Mainly what I disliked about this museum is that it had way too much information. The fact that all this information concerned subjects I’m not interested in really didn’t help. A lot of the displays are very overwhelming. There is way too much text, a huge diversity of fonts, colors, and shapes of panels. The Newseum is also very interactive, which can be a good thing sometimes but here it gets a little bit too much. That makes it extremely family friendly though and there were lots of children and school groups when I was visiting. I would not recommend this place unless you are very interested in journalism/recent history or you have children and it’s too hot or too cold to be outside.

Rating

  • Accessibility (location, price, disabled access, transport links and parking): 8/10
  • Architecture: 8.5/10
  • Collections: 5/10
  • Display: 6.5/10
  • Resources (explanation panels, guides, plans): 8/10
  • Extras (shop, events, exhibitions): 7/10
  • Overall: 7/10
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