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Newseum is a confluence of history and media

July 17, 2010|By JOHN LEAGUE

I loved having school-age children because it was an excellent excuse to visit the museums that I missed seeing when I was a kid.

So when they were in elementary and middle school, our children were dragged by my wife and me to museums and attractions locally and up and down the East Coast.

Some of the best attractions are close to home. The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts is one of our community's precious assets. The county also is blessed with dozens of other museums highlighting local agriculture, railroads, aviation and African-American history, to name but a few.

Down the road a bit, The Smithsonian museums in Washington are without peer.

Baltimore has its Museum of Art, The Walters and The Maryland Science Center.

As a youngster, my daughter's favorite was the International Spy Museum in D.C. My son loved the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles Airport, which houses dozens of historic aircraft, including a full-size "test" model of a space shuttle, a Concorde and the Enola Gay.

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I didn't have a favorite. I loved them all.

And if you've read this far in the column, let me highly recommend another one that's a bit closer to my own heart -- The Newseum.

The Newseum is a news junkie's delight. It's a vast confluence of media and history. It not only chronicles hundreds of historic events, but shows how they were covered and how they were delivered to the news-consuming public.

Newspapers, magazines, radio, television, the Internet -- and everything in between-- is all covered in great detail.

Kids will love the mini-studios where they can record their own TV newscasts. There's also a room that has a video screen that appears to be about 30 yards long and 6 to 8 feet tall. The day we were there, it was showing dozens of news programs simultaneously that were being broadcast "live" around the world. It was a bit maddening trying to make sense of it all.

On level 6 is "Today's Front Pages," where you can see front pages of newspapers, big and small, from around the world (including The Herald-Mail).

You can immerse yourself in the detail if you have the time, or see the exhibits, like the Berlin Wall gallery -- a chunk of it is on display. When my son and I visited around Christmas, the Unabomber's cabin (shack would be a more accurate descriptor) was on display.

By Washington's standards, The Newseum is bit pricey -- $19.95 for ages 19 to 64; $12.95 for ages 7 to 18; $17.95 for those older than 65; and free for ages 6 and younger.

That said, I could spend a week there. If you're taking an express visit, set aside two hours.

Either way, if you're an interested news media consumer, a student of history or both, you won't be disappointed.

(Getting there: The Newseum is at 555 Pennsylvania Ave., at the corner of 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. Parking is terrible and expensive. Your best travel bet is to hop on the Red Line Metro at Shady Grove and stay on it for about 30 minutes until you arrive at Judiciary Square. The museum is a few blocks south. It's open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. The Newseum's website is http://www.newseum.org.)

John League is editor and publisher of The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7073, or by e-mail at jleague@herald-mail.com">jleague@herald-mail.com.

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