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Staycation: the Newseum

October 14, 2011

A couple of months ago,the people who make the NOW Guide reached out to see whether I was interested in participating in a DC tourism promotion. I hope my blog makes it clear how much I love my hometown, so I was excited to help spread the word about cool sights and attractions in the Nation’s Capital.

The guide offers tips on where to eat, what to see, where to stay and how to find those can’t-miss sights while you’re on vacation. To help my explore the city and share some of the top attractions with you, I got a guidebook and a NOW Pass. For visitors to DC, the pass is a great idea. One ticket, one price, admission to three major DC sights — the Newseum, the International Spy Museum and a ride on the Open Top Sightseeing Bus.

And if you open the guidebook, look who’s inside!:

Cool, right?

The first place I wanted to visit — and share with you all — was the Newseum. After all, I work in the news industry and am passionate about journalism, so what could be a better fit?

I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve hardly spent any time at the Newseum but in a city of free museums, it’s hard to pay for any attraction. But… it’s worth it. The Newseum defines “there’s something for everyone” because adults, kids, teens, tweens — everyone will find something fun to see or do. The NOW guide even says it was named the #1 attraction in DC by TripAdvisor so, seriously, check it out.

(I visited on two separate days, which is why there’s blue sky in this photo and — as you’ll see — a gray, rainy day in others. Welcome to DC and its unpredictable weather patterns…)

The most well-known exhibit at the Newseum starts outside: front pages of newspapers from around the world.

From DC to Des Moines…

and the Philippines to Uruguay…

it’s always interesting to see what different states and countries consider front page news. Although — I think we need some Internet newspapers, too, don’t you? Come on, Newseum, where’s the Huffington Post front page?

One exhibit I enjoyed most featured Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs from past years.

One of my favorite college classes was photojournalism, where we talked about technique but also ethics when it comes to shooting news photos. While some of the photos on display were joyous…

others displayed tragedy. Where do you draw the line?

I was also fascinated by the special exhibition G-Men and Journalists.

If you want examples of pretty incredible first-person reporting and a look up close at some iconic criminal evidence throughout history, check this out. The electric chair that executed the Lindbergh baby kidnapper, a replica of the Unabomber’s cabin, journalists’ notebooks, mementos from Ground Zero — all here.

For more history, walk across the hall to see a portion of the Berlin Wall and guard tower. Even seeing its scale in height, it’s impossible for me to imagine what it must have been like intact and in-person.

There’s a lot to see — thankfully your pass is good for two days so you can see a few floors, then come back tomorrow and explore more. Have a limited amount of time? Get a 2-hour guided map so you’re sure to see all the highlights.

Besides galleries, there are also theatres screening various documentaries and a rotating series of temporary exhibitions. A few must-sees:

  • 9/11 gallery: What was it like for journalists to cover September 11? How do you make sense of an event that changes every few minutes? Where’s the line between news value and gratuitous violence?
  • NBC Interactive newsroom: Have you ever wanted to be Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer, Brian Williams or Anderson Cooper? Now’s your chance to play pretend…
  • Tim Russert’s desk: Just the way he left it when he died three years ago, stacks of books and all.
  • Terrace view: One of the best views in Washington, a 180-degree view up and down Pennsylvania Avenue

The museum can get crowded but I arrived at 9 (opening time) and hardly anyone was there so — get there early to beat the crowds and enjoy the galleries in peace. Start from the bottom and work your way up 6 floors (or vice versa) so you’re sure not to miss anything.

Have you been to the Newseum? Do you read a daily newspaper (in print or online)?

I received the NOW Pass in exchange for writing this blog post and promotion for my blog in their guidebook. All opinions, of course, are my own.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. Sarah permalink
    October 14, 2011 11:20 am

    I’m a poor journalism student in DC and I am waiting for our class field trip to the newseum so I don’t have to pay for the ticket myself. I keep seeing pictures of the newseum and am soooo excited to go!

    • October 14, 2011 9:01 pm

      The Newseum is definitely pricey — hope you get to visit soon. Going as part of a class would be really fun because you’d likely get even more inside information and background. Where are you studying journalism?

      • Sarah permalink
        October 14, 2011 9:12 pm

        I am at the Washington Journalism Center-it’s kind of like a study abroad semester.

      • October 14, 2011 9:44 pm

        Very cool! Welcome to Washington! You picked a great city in which to study journalism — so many amazing media outlets are based here and there’s always something interesting going on in town. 🙂

  2. October 14, 2011 1:19 pm

    Great post, Erin. I don’t know WHY I’ve never been to the Newseum but it’s so moving up on my list now!

    • October 14, 2011 9:01 pm

      You must go! It’s at least a half-day worth of fun.

  3. October 14, 2011 8:21 pm

    Congrats on the great press, E! I can’t believe they brought a piece of the Berlin Wall to DC…Guess they have to compete with the Smithsonians 🙂

    • October 15, 2011 8:07 am

      There are chunks of it all over the world now — I wonder how much of it is actually left in Germany!

  4. October 14, 2011 8:58 pm

    I want to go there SO MUCH. It’s at the top of my list for the next time I’m in DC!!

  5. October 15, 2011 2:17 pm

    Yup, I’ve been twice.

    I miss the Washington Post terribly. Reading it online is not the same. And the AJC (Atlanta paper) is pretty awful.


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