Newseum opens Friday in D.C.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

WASHINGTON — An interactive museum devoted to the history and practice of journalism is scheduled to open April 11 in Washington.

The 250,000-square-foot Newseum, located at 555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., is designed to be both fun and educational, with a goal of teaching visitors about the free press and the First Amendment. The exterior architecture features a 74-foot-high marble engraving of the First Amendment.

One gallery features First Amendment issues and history. Another displays every photograph that ever won a Pulitzer Prize. Interactive kiosks let visitors try various journalism roles — photographer, editor, reporter or anchor. A theater shows what the museum calls a “4-D” film — a 3-D movie with seats that move and air gusts — that covers news events over more than 150 years. A memorial gallery is dedicated to journalists who died covering the news.

Facilities include a restaurant by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck, a conference center and two broadcast studios, one of which is a new home for ABC's “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.”

The Newseum is the latest museum to open with an admission fee: $20 for adults, $13 for children 7 to 12, $18 for those 65 and older. The International Spy Museum charges $18 and the Washington location of Madame Tussauds wax museum charges $21. Many other Washington museum attractions are free.

The Newseum cost $450 million to build, much of which was donated by private media companies, including Knight Ridder, The New York Times, and News Corp., which owns The Wall Street Journal, Fox News Channel and the New York Post.

The previous incarnation of the Newseum was in Arlington, Va., and closed in 2002. Officials at its parent organization, the Freedom Forum, decided to build a larger center closer to the Smithsonian museums on the National Mall. The Freedom Forum is also the parent organization of the First Amendment Center.

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