As we walked by a rather impressive section of The Berlin Wall, Ruth said to me about Newseum, “This place really makes history come alive.” Spot on. Just around the corner was the glass-box express elevator to the top.
On Level 6 was one of my favorite parts of Newseum–Pennsylvania Avenue Terrace. Even if the weather is not ideal, step outside to find, perhaps, the most sensational view of the US Capitol available to tourists. Everyone, including ourselves, had photos taken with it in the background. The Terrace stretches above and all along Newseum’s Pennsylvania Avenue side. Facts about it, fittingly dubbed America’s Main Street, explain its considerable place in American history. For example, Thomas Jefferson was the first President to have an inaugural procession on it.
In addition to 6 theaters, Level 5 offers the history of the past 500 years via newspapers and documents in a long, double-stretch of cases called News History. It would take months to read them all, but that’s not the point.
At first Newseum rejected the idea of displaying the Armani suit O. J. Simpson wore in court on the day of his acquittal, but it’s there and justified by an overstated quote from the Washington Post calling the decision of the jury, “The most dramatic courtroom verdict in the history of Western civilization.” Ruth & I certainly stared at the suit and discussed both that day and what led up to it for a long time.
Level 4 contained the First Amendment Gallery I spoke of yesterday where our 5 guaranteed freedoms are presented in Jay Leno type street interviews with strollers being asked to list them –religion, speech, petition, assembly, and press. Most could not recall all 5, but I could feel superior because they were right there for me to read.
By the time I was on Level 4, I had come to 2 conclusions. The first occurred as I gaped at a partial recreation of Tim Russert’s office. Newseum generally takes a tidal wave of events and somehow turns them into intimate, personal stories of those who make, report, and receive the news. It also pulls off the tricky job of largely avoiding bias in reporting this nation’s inundation of political news.
Visitors are especially drawn to the twisted antenna mast from the North Tower of the World Trade Center. It can’t but fail to impress, but those who walk around it find a small, very personal display of news photographer Bill Biggart’s equipment. He didn’t survive 9-11 but his 3 very damaged cameras did, and the sight of them is very moving.
The photo above from Level 3 summarizes for me the source confusion we now all experience in learning today’s news events.
I could go on about Newseum, but I think you get the idea that it’s wise to include it in any trip to Washington, DC. Before exiting, Ruth & I slowly moved through the Pulitzer Prize Photographs on Level 1. The most complete display of these historic visions ever assembled, PPP is both very popular and a good way to end a visit to this stupendous addition to America’s significant museums.