Newseum: Washington DC museum for news, politics & history buffs

by Jan 2, 2019Washington DC

The Newseum was a must-go museum in Washington DC. Sadly, it closed its doors the end of 2019. But, there are still rotating exhibits that are must see for any fan of the Newseum.

Whether you are a history enthusiast, news and politics buff, or a student or fan of media and first-amendment rights, the Newseum was a must-go museum in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, it shut its doors the end of 2019 but there are still rotating exhibits at the capitol’s two airports. It’s worth remembering what the Newseum was though which you can discover in the following post. 

When it comes to museums, of course, there is no shortage in the capital of the United States. And many of them – Smithsonian museums, galleries and parks as the biggest example – are free, being paid for in part by our own tax dollars of course. Even though the spectacular Newseum is not free, it offers an insider look at all things news, current events, past history and First Amendment. There is something for everyone, not to mention great lessons for students visiting Washington, D.C.

But apparently that wasn’t enough to keep it afloat, so the Newseum building on Pennsylvania Avenue was purchased by Johns Hopkins. We took the opportunity in August 2019 to visit it one last time. We were reassured that the exhibits were going to be put carefully into storage and a smaller location would be sought. Meanwhile, the Newseum has announced the opening of two airport locations with rotating exhibits – the Newseum@Reagan and the Newseum@Dulles..

From the gallery of stunning Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs and the moving 9/11 Gallery (there is in fact a box of tissues in the area), the Berlin Wall gallery and the exhibit about presidents’ “First Dogs,” to real copies of historical newspapers dating back centuries, the Newseum will suck you in, perhaps for many hours. We arrived late morning on our first visit a number of years ago and asked how long most people take there. The cashier said, “Oh, about four hours.” Then we added that we were journalists. “Oh,” came his short response, “Well, your tickets are good for two days.” In fact, we needed nearly all of two days.

The Newseum 9/11 memorial.

You’ll need a tissue at the 9/11 memorial with this tribute as seen through the eyes of journalists.

And not just because we are journalists. But because the museum, which opened in 2008, has an array of real exhibits that bring news and events to life: the actual car an investigative Phoenix journalist died in when a car bomb exploded under it, a large piece of the Berlin Wall splattered with graffiti, the TV antenna from the top of the World Trade Tower, reporters’ briefcases and notepads from covering world events, and bullet-ridden trucks from war coverage. Every area has short videos, often first-person accounts, that draw you in. And the Newseum is not shy about its message advocating First Amendment rights or freedom of the press. Don’t forget the memorial to journalists killed or murdered in covering events.

Newseum hosts real history, like the car destroyed by a mafia car bomb.

Don Bolles was an American investigative reporter for The Arizona Republic and this was his car as it looked after Bolles was murdered by the explosion of a car bomb thought to have been placed because of his coverage of the Mafia. Note the jagged metal hole in the floorboard of the driver’s side.

We of course aren’t the only ones who think this Washington, D.C., museum is astounding.

Since you’ll need a bathroom break, give yourself some time in there since the walls have inset tiles here and there with funny quotes and headlines from real newspapers. For example, from the San Diego (Calif.) Tribune in 1998: “Poll says the 53% believe that media offen make mistakes.”

HITT Tip: Use both the Smithsonian website and the downloadable PDF visitors planning guide (eight languages) in advance of your visit to help you not waste a minute on your museum tour of Washington, D.C.

The Newseum in Washington, D.C., was funded and founded by an array of media groups and foundations, which you can read about by clicking here.

Newseum Closing is sad as it makes fun of the news media too, with bathroom tiles featuring funny headlines and other mistakes.

You can buy a book of these funny quotes taken from newspaper headline mistakes and other article errors, or hang out in the bathroom and read them all.

Tickets run the gamut in prices, with group discounts and other discounts, such as senior, military and AAA. And if you buy online you can also save 15%.

The Newseum in Washington, D.C., is easy to get to, right in the center of things, at 555 Pennsylvania Ave., just a block up from the National Mall, not quite two blocks from the National Gallery of Art, and a stone’s throw from several of the Smithsonian National Museums, including National History, American History and Air and Space.

HITT Tip: Insider tip! There are free concerts at the National Gallery of Art all year round, first come, first serve. We have visited several outdoor jazz events in the summer in the Sculpture Garden, which are spectacular – just get there in advance and, in the summer, bring a blanket, chairs or picnic if you’d like. If you are in D.C. for a few days, be sure to check out some other things to do in Washington D.C. with our destination stories 9 tips for a memorable visit to Arlington National Cemetery in D.C. . Six things to do in D.C. that many don’t but should, and Make the most of a visit to Smithsonian’s African-American museum

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