Museum – Newseum, Washington, District of Columbia

“THE FREE PRESS IS A CORNERSTONE OF DEMOCRACY. People have a need to know. Journalism has a right to tell. Finding the facts can be difficult. Reporting the story can be dangerous. Freedom includes the right to be outrageous. Responsibility includes the duty to be fair. News is history in the making. Journalists provide the first draft of history. A FREE PRESS, AT ITS BEST, REVEALS THE TRUTH.” – Inscribed at the Newseum, Washington, DC

Enigmatically the chronology of the Newseum ends in the 2010s, some time after the advent of Digital News. The uninstalled exhibit case frame and matching chrome trash can stand quiet witness to the end of the decade and work left incomplete, circa December 30, 2019, prior to closure of the museum the following day.
The internet and digital innovations have dramatically disrupted the way news is reported and consumed. People now get news on the go 24/7, with alerts sent at warp speed directly to their smartphones. Facebook, Google and Twitter – mighty distributors of 21st century news – form a vast network of global information. But these corporate behemoths have weakened the centuries-old print news business, as well as TV and radio. “Face news” – information intended to deceive – and the rise of hyperpartisan news sites have eroded trust in the press. People turn to news that confirms their biases, and confuse opinion with fact. Factual reporting is costly to produce but matters now more than ever.

Changing Face of Pennyslvania Ave

The site of the Newseum was occupied until 1942 by the National Hotel, one of the most famous hotels of its era, which opened in 1826. The office of the federal censor reportedly was located in the hotel during the Civil War because the telegraph offices were nearby. “Every line of wire copy had to go through his hands,” reported The Washington Post.
Rebirth of Main Street. In 1972, Congress created the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corp., which used millions of dollars from private and government sources to renew Pennsylvania Avenue. Dilapidated historical structures such as the Willart Hotel and the Evening Star building were renovated, and more than a dozen new businesses were built. Today the historic street is part of the rejuvenated Penn Quarter and continues to serve as an avenue of civilization and free expression.

“If a person goes to a country and finds their newspapers filled with nothing but good news, there are good men in jail.” – Daniel P. Moynihan, Inscribed at the Newseum, Washington, DC

“Now, 40 years later, we come to this wonderful culmination: the last site on the avenue… President Kennedy would be very proud, as are we.” – Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, at the unveiling of the Newseum design, 2002.

The Newseum on Pennsylvania Ave. 2007. The Freedom Forum purchased the last available space for development on Pennsylvania Avenue from the District of Columbia. Construction of the Newseum was completed here in 2007.

Prequel – Visiting in 2013

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” – 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Tim Russert’s office left much as it was the day he died of a heart attack. The desk was on display at the Newseum between 2009 and June 2014. Following that it was moved to the Buffalo History Museum in his hometown. Russert served on the Board of Directors for the Newseum, and hosted Meet the Press since 1991.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan began working on the revitalization of Pennsylvania Avenue during the Kennedy administration after the new president notice how run-down the street looked during his inaugural parade. Working in the White House and Congress, where he served nearly 25 years as senator, Moynihan helped establish the President’s Advisory Council on Pennsylvania Avenue. He set into motion a commitment to history and architecture that was nurtured over the years by other groups. After his death in 2003, Congress designated a plaza near the Ronald Reagan Building as Daniel Patrick Moynihan Place.

“Pay Moynihan presided over the public works that saw to it that Pennsylvania Avenue was turned into the kind of memorial avenue that the world’s greatest power deserves.” – U.S. Sen. Robert Bennett of Utah, 2003

Back to Museum