Washington DC’s Newseum-A Journey Through Marks in History

The front exterior of the museum sets the tone with a grand reminder of our freedom of speech.
The front exterior of the museum sets the tone with a grand reminder of our First Amendment rights.

A few weeks ago we visited the Newseum in Washington, DC for the first time and found it a compelling and emotional walk through many of our world’s most significant events.  With the tag line “There’s More to Every Story”, the Newseum proves that the art of investigating events can unravel revelations of humanity.

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A common thread illustrated throughout the Newseum is how a free press reveals truth and is an obligation to society.  The front of the museum is adorned with the covers of the current issues of the day (can you believe that?) of a major newspaper from every state.  You can also find these covers on the top floor as well as peruse them digitally in a kiosk.  It’s a great visual example of efforts of journalists in delivering stories that matter to the people.

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The Newseum includes numerous exhibits, theaters with a variety of films, artifacts, galleries, and interactive stations.  One of my favorites was the News Corporation News History Gallery.  The walls included additional artifacts and media signage and covers of significant moments in history.  This gallery includes front pages of newspapers from as far back as the 1400s.  Each issue is encased in protective glass, but can be pulled out to be read more carefully by guests.   I loved going through to read the issues of significant years in my family’s life including our birth years.  I even had my 10 year old read bits and compare the development of language throughout time.  She was really surprised at how difficult it was to understand the English written newspapers from the early 1900s.

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The Pulitzer Prize Photographs Gallery is a very haunting and emotional walk through more recent history.  We were warned at the front desk that some of the images in this gallery may be too graphic for our young children.  Many images are the widely known capturing of major news stories including the civil rights era, the Oympics, 9/11, and wars.  The capturing of emotions running from elation to tragedy left me tearful after the short walk.

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The Berlin Wall Gallery included a segment from the original wall that separated East and West Germany for so long.  I was in middle school when the Berlin Wall was torn down and remember how momentous it was to see this symbol and physical barrier of oppression be removed.  However, it was even more eye-opening to see the journalism journey behind the destruction of the wall.

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The 9/11 Gallery features a segment of debris from the horrendous attacks and delicately tells the story of one of America’s most tragic historical events.  The huge wall behind shows front pages of newspapers from around the world in covering the terrorist attack.

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The Bloomberg Internet, TV, and Radio Gallery shows the development of news and media channels throughout history.  Not only are images conveying significant stories in radio, TV, and internet displayed, but artifacts are present to help tell the story (such as damaged and weathered items from Hurricane Katrina’s impact on New Orleans).

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The New Media Gallery is a fun interactive exhibit that takes the guest in a tutorial on how new media today not only allows anyone to interact, select, and engage with content, but allows anyone to be creators of media content.  There is even a fun interactive motion-detection game where you “dunk” the news anchor that my 10 year old loved!

We also watched a 4-D movie, “I-Witness:  A 4-D Time Travel Adventure” that is geared towards family friendly entertainment.  A few points I thought were a bit scary and think it may be too much for sensitive young ones.  However, it does teach viewers significant achievements in journalism through history in a fun way.

There is so much to see at the Newseum, we didn’t even get the chance to view every exhibit as we had wanted!  I highly suggest the Newseum to be added to your Washington DC travel itinerary for your family, particularly if you have children in upper elementary school and above.  The news coverage displayed in the exhibits help support many history curriculums.  I suggest you aim to spend the entire day at the museum to be able to immerse yourself in all that it has to offer!

Suggestions to Extend the Learning

  • Check out the digital classroom resources from Newseum for your child to learn more through primary sources, videos, etc. that support standards of learning.
  • Do you homeschool?  Newseum also offers lesson plans for those visiting the museum and those who can’t!
  • Journalist for a Day:  Encourage your child to pick a significant news story of the day and research current updates on it.  Have him/her present their coverage to the family like a “news anchor” at the end of the day.
  • Photojournalism Field Trek:  Have your child practice capturing “the story” in your day with a photojournalistic approach.  Communications specialist Cassie Dull has a great powerpoint presentation on teaching photojournalism to kids here.  Encourage kids to find a story in what they see happening in real life and practice capturing the essence of the moment with a camera.

The Newseum was such a great walk through history and memories of things both triumphant and tragic.  It is truly a great example of what museums should be like today.  It is an educational and emotional experience wrapped into one.  What news story in history resonantes with you the most?

~Lani

Disclosure:  I am not affiliated with the Newseum.  I received complimentary admission to the Newseum to help write this post.  The thoughts and opinions here are completely my own.

 

 

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