On the last day before the new year, Washington D.C.’s Newseum closed after 11 years. Located on Pennsylvania Avenue the museum was a showcase of America’s journalism throughout history. The many exhibits displayed in the Newseum featured historic moments from the recent past, including a bent antenna from the World Trade Center that was recovered after the attacks on September 11th, the Watergate door from President Nixon’s impeachment, and the largest piece of the Berlin wall. All of these artifacts will go into storage as the Newseum hopes to eventually reopen some time in the future.
Economic troubles were a major factor in the museum’s decision to shut down. The Freedom Forum Institute was the principal funder of the Newseum. Their president Gene Policinski says, “You dream big, and what we found was this building is simply too expensive to operate and to keep it as a world class place.” The institute is still continuing their mission by means of public programs, online initiatives, and traveling exhibits.
From the start, the project was ambitious. It cost $450 million for the building’s construction. To compensate, ticket prices were high, starting at $25 for adults and $18 for kids. With the high ticket prices, the Newseum couldn’t compete with the other free, popular museums that surrounded it on the National Mall.
The Newseum was a symbol of American’s freedom of speech and the history of the news. Inside the museum was a wall filled with newspapers from every year of United States history. One exhibit featured headlines showing important events from America’s past. After their decision was announced, Johns Hopkins University purchased the Newseum property for $372.5 million to use as a place for it’s graduate programs. The Newseum closing down will be a loss for everyone seeking to learn more about America’s history and the role journalists play in it, but The Freedom Forum Institute will continue their efforts to educate the country on the importance of the first amendment and the importance of a free press. You can learn more about the Freedom Forum Institute by visiting their website.