This November marks the 50th anniversary of the death of President Kennedy. On my most recent trip to Washington D.C., I decided to check out the Newseum because two JFK temporary exhibits had recently opened to correspond with the anniversary. I have been to Washington, D.C. several times, but I had never been to the Newseum and initially thought it might be quite boring to revisit past headlines. Well, I am glad that my interest of JFK lead me to this museum because my initial thoughts were totally off and I ended up spending an entire afternoon enjoying exhibit after exhibit! The Newseum focuses on the five freedoms (speech, assembly, press, religion & petition) of the First Amendment. I was pulled in immediately even before I entered on Pennsylvania Avenue by the days’ front pages which were displayed from 800 newspapers from around the world including all 50 states.
After purchasing my ticket, I headed down to the concourse level to check out the first of the two JFK exhibits, JFK Creating Camelot. This photo exhibit showcased both public and private photographs by his personal photographer Jacques Lowe. Honestly, I don’t know why I am captivated by President Kennedy and his family considering his life existed before mine, but I found the photographs amazing and felt like I was a friend looking at their family photo album.
Before leaving the concourse level, I also spent a significant time in the Berlin Wall Gall appreciated this exhibit for two reasons. One my son had recently done a paper on the Cold War, so all the facts were fresh in my mind. The second reason was that the East German watchtower stood tall in the middle of the exhibit along with one of the largest sections of the Berlin Wall.
I visited a few other exhibits on the concourse before taking the glass express elevators up to the sixth level. Once on the top-level, I went outside on the terrace before continuing with the exhibits. Six stories above Pennsylvania Avenue provided an unbelievable view of the nation’s capital.
Also along the terrace were markers that provided a history of “America’s Main Street.” Once back inside I checked out the other JFK Exhibit, JFK: Three Shots Were Fired. There was a lot of memorabilia, like Oswald’s shirt and ID card, but I found watching Walter Cronkite’s news coverage the most fascinating because I have only read about it or seen snippets on television.
I worked my way down through the different levels checking out numerous exhibits. I liked some more than others and ended up with some favorites that I would recommend to others who plan to visit. The News Corp. News History Gallery was cool because you could check out the front pages of past headlines. I thought it was neat to read about presidential elections and wars before my time, but it was more interesting to find events that I remembered as the death of Princess Diana.
I also enjoyed seeing inside Tim Russert’s office (one of the few NBC political commentators that I liked) and the photo exhibit on President’s and their Photographers.
Below are interesting facts and other favorite exhibits from the museum.
In addition to the exhibits that I highlighted, there were several exhibits that I breezed through or just found too intense. I am sure others might want to visit the 911 exhibit, but being from New York, I found it too difficult to revisit. Many interactive museum experiences could be fun for kids and adults like the Interactive Newsroom and the Ethics Center.
I remember thinking that some of our current mornings show that have turned more to tabloid news and report on what is trending or news reports that are completely lean left or right instead of just fair reporting might want to visit the ethics center.
Overall, I had a great afternoon and was glad I checked out the Newseum. Compared to some of the Smithsonian Museums buildings that are tired, the Newseum was new, bright with digital images and easy to navigate. Although it is not free like the Smithsonian museums and is $22 for adults, the ticket is valid for two consecutive days. Washington D.C. is one of my favorite places to visit for learning and visiting the Newseum made me more of an informed citizen.
Will you visit the Newseum?