Newseum To Close After 11 Years

By Taneen Momeni

The Newseum, a museum dedicated to free press and the history of journalism in Washington, is scheduled to close Dec. 31 after 11 years of service.

The creator and primary funder of the Newseum, the Freedom Forum, sold the Newseum’s building to Johns Hopkins University for their Washington-based graduate programs in January 2019, according to the Newseum website. 

“We know visitors love the Newseum (don’t take our word for it; read the TripAdvisor reviews for yourself), but it has struggled financially for a number of years and continuing to operate in our current location has proven unsustainable,” the Newseum said in a press release. 

Kyle Newman, a visitor to the museum meeting up with his friend to visit the John Stewart exhibit, believes the press and journalism as a whole are underfunded. 

“It’s not a good sign, especially when they’re so under scrutiny,” Newman said. 

People who passed by the museum made sure to browse the daily front pages from each state that the Newseum displays outside of the building. Other people had come to check out the times of operation and cost of tickets. 

“I heard [the Newseum] will be closing, and I thought I might as well go before it closes,” Nikki O’Bryan said. “It’s sad because it hasn’t been open that long.” 

O’Bryan, who works in Washington, said that it’s interesting for a museum dedicated to news to close because there are no other museums focused on the history of news reporting.

The Newseum has been educating students and tourists since it opened in 2008, allowing group rates that are accessible to local schools and other big groups.

“The Newseum is all about freedom of speech and expression. [In the lobby,] it said something about how in 2017 they want to increase education around that kind of stuff, but now they’re closing,” University of Maryland junior Kate Rush said. “What’s next? No news?” 

Although the Newseum is closing at this location, they plan to continue their work through digital outreach, traveling exhibits and web-based programs in school. In addition, they hope to find a new permanent building to house the exhibits, according to a press release the Newseum released in January 2019.

“We remain committed to continuing our programs — in a financially sustainable way — to champion the five freedoms of the First Amendment and to increase public awareness about the importance of a free and fair press,” said Jan Neuharth, chair and CEO of the Freedom Forum. 

The emphasis on the five freedoms resonated with Rush. She was appalled by the low percentage of people who can list all of the freedoms in the First Amendment that are posted in the lobby. 

“[The low percentages] are really frightening because it’s the right that most people know and still they can’t even name it,” said Rush. 

Everyone can still visit the Newseum until it closes in December 2019. Visitors can purchase tickets online or in person and receive a 15% discount online and in person. A calendar of public events and programs running until December can be viewed here.

“It’s sad that [the Newseum] is closing. The news is such an important part of the American ethos and American society,” Newman said. 

Featured Photo Credit: Kate Rush reads the front page of the Star Tribune from Minnesota. (Taneen Momeni/Bloc Reporter)

Taneen Momeni is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at taneenm@gmail.com.

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