The Newseum Closed Its Doors

Washingtonian, Sam Kittner

Washingtonian, Sam Kittner

Victoria Weber, Reporter

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In the Pulitzer Prize Photographs Gallery of the Newseum in Washington D.C., it is eerily quiet. Perhaps out of respect, or maybe just in stunned silence, people peruse the photos covering the walls of the gallery. It’s easy to see why they received this honor. Briar Woods High School students enrolled in AP Language and Composition were given the opportunity to take a trip to the museum, and see archives like this on November 21st, 2019. 

However, the Newseum houses more than just a couple photographs, featuring interactive sections such as the Ethics Center, which introduces visitors to ethical dilemmas journalists face everyday. In addition, the museum contains a memorial of journalists who lost their lives while working, a gallery featuring a section of the Berlin Wall that visitors can actually touch, and a collection of historical news publications and a wall of changes in news production throughout history. While the museum contains many more archives, there’s not one that isn’t in any way significant. 

According to Briar Woods AP Language and Composition teacher Christina Vazquez, “The purpose of the trip was to understand the impact of news on our society, and understand why news reporting is important.  AP Lang teachers stress reading the news each day in order to write to a big idea on the AP Lang test. We were also hoping to give the students another way of learning about worldly ideas through the museum’s collection.” Vazquez also says certain parts of the museum, such as the 9/11 and Pulitzer Prize galleries, particularly stood out to students. Furthermore, she says, “It is always important to know what is going on in the world around you; I want my students to see how ideas connect.  Additionally, we have to know what has happened in the past in order to grow in the present.” Vazquez says the museum factors into the AP Lang curriculum because, “When writing the argument on the AP Lang test, teachers stress the idea of connecting the prompt to a bigger idea.” 

As part of the AP Lang curriculum this year, students write up a weekly summary of an article produced by a columnist. Students select a different columnist from a different source each quarter. This is designed to help them learn the skill of rhetorical analysis, which will in turn help them prepare for the AP exam. 

Unfortunately, despite the museum’s mesmerizing galleries, the finances haven’t worked in its favor, and it closed its doors on December 31st, 2019. According to the museum, “it is challenging to operate a paid museum in a city full of free ones.” The museum plans to sell the building to Johns Hopkins University. However, the museum itself isn’t shutting down, and instead plans to reopen when the right location is found. It’s clear the Newseum has provided a wonderful platform to display the history and continuing developments of the news, and hopefully will continue to do so.