In history class this week, we delved into the purposes of government. We also looked into what people do to create change in their government when they are dissatisfied with the government. As part of our examination of government and history, we will be discussing current events to make connections to the principles regarding change and conflict. It is our hope that students will make the connection that current events become our history.
A fantastic family field trip related to current events and history is a visit to the Newseum in Washington, D.C. When out-of-town friends and family come to visit, the Newseum is at the top of my recommendation list. Each of the seven levels in this building is packed with interactive exhibits that explore how news affects our shared experience of historic moments. For anyone interested in news, this building has it all from the very first newspapers created hundreds of years ago, through all the significant events of the last centuries to today’s 50 front pages of dailies around the world. There are fascinating, informative displays on such events as 9-11, the Unabomber, and a large piece of the Berlin Wall. Another exhibit displays Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs The Newseum also includes 15 theaters and several hands-on activities for the whole family, including the television studio reporting experience where you can try your hand as a “stand-up” news reporter.
One of the Newseum’s most powerful exhibit is the emotionally-charged 9/11 Gallery — featuring a twisted wreckage of the broadcast antenna that stood atop the World Trade Center’s North Tower, a limestone cornice piece from the damaged section of the Pentagon and a piece of fuselage recovered from the field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where United Flight 93 went down. This exhibit also includes amazing pictures taken by the photographer, Bill Biggar, who actually ran toward the collapsing buildings when everyone else was running away and who lost his life in the process. His cameras were later found in the rubble and most of the photographs were salvaged.
The Newseum is not just a history of news, journalism, and media. It is an exploration of what “freedom” means and how we can continue to exercise our own and spread it to those who are not fortunate enough to have it. The First Amendment, written on the side of the building where you enter, is also featured in its own gallery. It puts each of the five freedoms in historical context and provides perspective on what they mean to us more than 200 years later.
The Berlin Wall Gallery is another highlight of mine and continues the theme of freedom. It features eight 12-foot-high concrete sections of the original wall — the largestdisplay outside of Germany and tells the fascinating story of how news and information helped topple a closed and authoritarian society.
The Newseum is a “must see” in Washington, D.C. While it is one of the few museums in Washington that charge admission, you will not go away feeling that your money was wasted. I recommend looking for discount tickets as they often run special promotions. Through Labor Day, the Newseum is offering a Summer Fun Deal where up to four kids age 18 and younger visit for free with each paid adult admission. Tickets are valid for two days so you do get plenty of time to see it all. Go see it!
~Ms. Andi Maples