The Moving Newseum


How is the Newseum moving? Let us count the ways:

  • The Newseum moved from its Arlington, VA location to its current location on Pennsylvania Avenue in DC.
  • It’s a big museum, so a visit means moving around a lot!
  • To help you move around, there are glass hydraulic “people mover” elevators.
  • There are movies and movie theaters everywhere, including a “4D” movie in which your seat moves.
  • And of course, the content is moving.

9/11 Gallery at the Newseum

Perhaps the most moving part of the Newseum is the 9/11 Gallery, where visitors can see artifacts from all three attack sites, including a massive, mangled news antenna from the top of the World Trade Center. There are also displays of front pages reporting on 9/11, kiosks where visitors can leave comments, and a section of the exhibit devoted to journalist Bill Biggart, who died while taking photos of the events as they unfolded.

But the biggest tearjerker in the 9/11 exhibit seems to be Running Toward Danger, the short film about journalists covering the tragedy. When I watched it for the first time as part of my training, I got out of the theater as soon as I’d seen the whole thing, thinking I couldn’t handle any extra seconds of the looping movie. Days later, when I was posted in the 9/11 Gallery, I found that I did not necessarily need to actively tell some of the rowdier adolescent visitors to please calm down in the gallery – the content did my job for me. The school groups often rush into the theater talking, laughing, poking each other, moving too fast; when they emerge several minutes later, they are subdued, solemn, almost in tears.

So far, I’ve seen visitors generally experience the 9/11 Gallery in quiet contemplation. I enjoy the Berlin Wall Gallery more, where I have a chance to hear the conversations that adults have with their children/students. After one father explained the history of the Berlin Wall to his school-age kids, his daughter asked, “Which side was happy?”

Other moving exhibits include the Pulitzer Prize Photographs Gallery (where the majority of the prize-winning pictures are also profoundly depressing pictures), the Journalists Memorial, and the more uplifting First Amendment Gallery.

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About Laura

Paralegal with Master of Arts in Teaching in Museum Education, frequent museum visitor, based in Washington, DC. I care about what museums can do, both in terms of public offerings and internal practices, to make the world a better place. I blog about museum education ("informed"), the social work of museums ("humane"), and visitor experience ("citizenry").
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