Hi, my name is Evan… and I am a news junkie. And Newseum is to me pretty much what a distillery with free tastings would be to an alcoholic. Newseum is a museum of news and it may well be nirvana for anyone interested in history and current affairs.
We knew Newseum was going to be interesting, but the thing we were not prepared for the was the sheer range of original items the Newseum has to back up the newspapers and reports that form its core. We saw items from the Lindbergh kidnapping including the ladder used and the electric chair; we saw the door from Watergate; we saw Dilinger’s guns; we saw Patty Hearst’s hat; we saw a page from a Gutenburg bible; we saw parts of one of the planes that hit the World Trade Centre; we saw the Unabomber’s hut. Really there was just an amazing range of items linked to some of the great current affairs stories of the last few hundred years.
Then there were the original newspapers themselves. From news of the gunpowder plot, to the Titanic sinking. From war being declared, to victory being claimed, many times over. From JFK’s assassination, to Charles II’s dog going missing. Truly as was quoted on one of the walls: “The news is just history’s first draft.”
There was a nice progression showing the development not just of new media but new styles of reporting. We heard, for the first time, the story of Nelly Bly who helped pioneer investigative journalism by going undercover in an insane asylum (and who travelled round the world in 80 days to prove Phileus Fogg could have done it!). Bly’s story was presented in the “4D movie” which was a good movie but which really didn’t need the moving chairs to help tell it.
Spread amongst all this were numerous interactive screens for the kids and then a section where you could be a reporter reading off a teleprompter in front of a blue-screen. Both boys did a very nice job of reading from the teleprompter in my biased opinion (we’ll upload the videos when we get them).
The Newseum was a fantastic visit filled with so much interesting stuff. It really is a great museum and simply fascinating in so many ways. And to cap off the visit, it has a grandstand view of the Capitol down Pennsylvania Avenue which today was filled with a huge demonstration against US-funding of the Egyptian government. A little bit of news in the making.