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After 11 Years, Newseum Calls It a Day

Private museum found it tough to compete with DC's free ones
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 27, 2019 1:39 AM CST
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In this Friday, Dec. 20, 2019,photo, people visit the Pulitzer Prize Photography exhibition at the Newseum in Washington.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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(Newser) – In 2008, the Newseum—a private museum dedicated to exploring modern history as told through the eyes of journalists—opened on prime Washington real estate. Sitting almost equidistant between the White House and the Capitol on Pennsylvania Avenue, the glass-walled building became instantly recognizable for its multi-story exterior rendition of the First Amendment. Eleven years later that experiment is coming to an end. After years of financial difficulties, the Newseum will close its doors Tuesday. The building was sold for $372.5 million to Johns Hopkins University, which intends to consolidate its scattered Washington-based graduate studies programs under one roof, the AP reports.

Sonya Gavankar, the outgoing director of public relations, attributes the failure to a variety of factors but acknowledges that the Newseum's status as a for-pay private institution was a harder sell in a city full of free museums. A Newseum ticket costs $25 for adults. Another problem, organizers said, is that the Newseum struggled to attract local residents, instead depending on a steady diet of tourists and local school groups. The museum's focus evolved over the years, showcasing not just journalism and historic events but all manner of free speech and civil rights issues and some whimsical quirks along the edges. Exhibits during the Newseum's final days included an exploration of the influence of The Daily Show, a look at the history of the struggle for LGBTQ rights, and a display depicting the history of presidential dogs.

(Read more Newseum stories.)

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