Monday, February 2, 2009

A Day at the Newseum

My nephew, Chris visited from Chicago last week. He first drove down to see his sister Carolyn at William and Mary, then drove up to see his grandmother in Solomons and finally, came to D.C. to spend Friday with me. I intended to take him to Ben's Chili Bowl for lunch, but it was jam-packed at 1:30. We were both hungry so we opted for a relaxed, tasty lunch at Utah Bistro across the street.

sections from the Berlin Wall

We then headed downtown to the Newseum. Neither of us had been there, so we were both looking forward to it. We were particularly interested in seeing the big balconies from which TV broadcast coverage of the inauguration. The views are phenomenal! A news helicopter hangs from the ceiling in the multi-story atrium. A communications satellite hangs at the opposite end. In the center is a giant screen showing videos and still shots.

The first exhibit we entered dealt with September 11, 2001 in NYC. It was painful to relive that day through videos and still photos. There were pieces of the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania as well as pieces of stone from the Pentagon and and steel from the Towers. A particularly poignant exhibit is a videod interview of a photographer's widow. He took plenty of pictures documenting the tragedy around the Towers that day, then became part of it when the second Tower fell. His friend found his photographic gear, cellphone and a few other personal effects, but not him. The one gallery I had to leave early was filled with Pulitzer Prize winning news photos. They were too grisly for me, but Chris and several classes of school children went through it. Some came out looking a bit shell-shocked. There is much, much more to say about this building and it's collection, but it has to be seen to be appreciated. I highly recommend the 4D movie which is included in the price of admission. In addition to the 3D visions on the screen, you experience wind and motion -- very interesting! Coming down a set of stairs, I caught this. It looked like book shelves to me, but it was part of the distinctive building's exterior.

As a charming visitor services person told me, "the news is what it is." Being an empathetic type, I found most of the exhibits depressing. It is hard to view the suffering of others in a clean, modern, building in a beautiful city. If you can get past that, the museum is chockfull of fascinating history, some of which provided fun reminders of the past e.g.: space flight, famous weddings, ancient political cartoons, etc. It's well worth the time for a visit.

1 comment:

Nan said...

Thanks for sharing, AP! Sounds like you had a great visit.