Monday, August 17, 2009


You never visit the sights near where you live. Unless you get some free Metro passes and decide to explore Washington DC and get hooked. At least that's my experience.

Our latest foray into the wilds of DC was to the Newseum, last Friday. It wasn't our first visit there. We read too much in exhibits and we like to sleep in so have an annoying habit of not being able to finish one museum in one day. 5 o'clock comes quickly when you don't get to a place until 1.

We skipped the orientation video this trip and most of the upper floors. That's the weird thing about this particular place--you start at the basement and then take a great glass elevator (largest one outside of Charlie's chocolate factory) up to the top floor where you wind back down to the ground floor. Having seen floors 6 through 4 as well as the Berlin Wall and the G-Man exhibit on the basement level, we started with the First Amendment Gallery. It lists our first amendment rights and what they have come to mean in the intervening two centuries and change of existence. Ice T even makes an appearance in the video as well as Martin Luther King, Jr.

From the interactive computers where you can play a game showing how well you know your rights, the exhibit segues into Journalists Memorial. It's not quite as touching as the 9/11 gallery but you can see examples of the trouble that journalists around the world willingly get into as they seek to convey the news to their audience.

From there you wind your way into the Bloomberg Internet, TV and Radio exhibit. There are nifty time lines on the walls showing how the three interact with each other as people get their information from these different sources. You can choose video and soundbites from eras of history on computer/video monitors posted throughout the exhibit. One of the most fascinating interactions of tv and radio was the Kennedy-Nixon debate shown. The radio audience compared Nixon's calm, even Midwestern voice to Kennedy's broad Massachusetts accent and gave the nod to Nixon. The tv audience, however, saw Kennedy's youthful, handsome visage and compare it to Nixon's sweaty, shifty-eyed performance and said that Kennedy won the day.

On the next floor down sits the interactive newsroom where guests can try out their skills as newscasters and for a price, take their efforts home. Not feeling the playacting vibe, we bypassed that opportunity to play interactive games about ethics. Then ACK it was nearly 5 o'clock. How did that happen? We were going to miss the 4D movie again! NEWMAN! We rushed downstairs. Yippee, the docents were still ushering folks in to the movie! We took our seats in the middle (because those were the ones with movement whatever that meant), put on our glasses and waited for the show. 4D meant a 3D movie and the seats rocking forward and back and spraying us with mist. Not Disney World but not meh either.

A fast trip through the Pulitzer prize winning photos enabled us to feel like we'd actually done the Newseum well enough to wait until the exhibits were updated for another trip. A quick trip up the hill to the Verizon Center and the green line (after stopping at the Red Velvet cupcakery for a treat), and we were home again, home again jiggity jig.


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  2. The Newseum is a real neat -- history museum with lots of audio/video exhibits.