It’s billed as the world’s most interactive museum, “where five centuries of news history meets up-to-the second technology on America’s Main Street,” but it was the low-tech displays of the Newseum which captured our imagination.
With five densely packed levels of edutainment, this is not a museum that can be completely covered in one day. We didn’t even try. Instead, we let the kids choose what they wanted to do from the day’s program selections, and then we allowed them to spend as long as they wanted on those exhibits.
Even before we entered the museum, there was plenty to do as we waited to get tickets. The kids took turns trying to score points on a paper route simulation game while we compared a selection of the day’s front pages from a collection of 589 newspapers.
Top 10 Things To Do with Kids at the Newseum
10. Hands On Freedom Flowers – Our first stop was at the hands on activity tables set up just beyond the admissions counter. While some kids made Freedom Flowers reflecting the five freedoms of the First Amendment, others were free to interpret this any way they wished, even if it resulted in freedom-devouring flower monsters.
9. Lunch – A learning adventure shouldn’t be undertaken on an empty stomach. We highly recommend the salad bar and pizza options.
8. Banned Book Nook – After a satisfying meal, there’s nothing better than a good book and a beanbag chair. Some of us settled in with a pile of books to discover why they’d been challenged, while others spent the whole time trying to find the naked torsos that put Where’s Waldo? on the Banned Book List.
7. Funny Pages – The cartoons exhibit, usually the kids’ favorite section of the newspaper, was a disappointment. What we saw was interesting, but it’s just a small hallway wall display.
6. Berlin Wall – This exhibit was fascinating and topical as my 7th Grade daughter had been learning about the fall of the Berlin Wall in her Social Studies class. Even my 9-year-old son, who doesn’t know much about the subject, found the concrete gun tower and the display posters riveting.
5. 4-D Movie – It’s short, but you don’t want to miss the 4-D movie experience, “I-Witness: A 4-D Time Travel Adventure.“ The kids love the special effects, but I liked the way it introduced investigative journalism through snippets about historical figures such as Isaiah Thomas, Nellie Bly, and Edward R. Murrow.
4. Glass Elevator– It’s the world’s largest glass hydraulic elevator, and it takes you to the top of the museum, unloading you next to an outdoor balcony with a bird’s eye view of the city. We just had to go for the ride, even though we ended up taking the service stairs right back down four levels.
3. Interactive Newsroom – Fame beckoned as each kid took a turn filming a live news update on camera. Alex reported on Strange Weather, while Kayla introduced the G-Men and Journalists Exhibit. Later, the video recording was available to download (for a fee.)
2. Ethics Center– The kids entered the spirit of competition as they battled new friends in a game that tested their knowledge of journalism ethics. Unfortunately, the computer program controlling the game table kept wigging out.
1. G-Men and Journalists Exhibit – Our kids agreed that this was the best exhibit at the Newseum, on display through 2012. The low-tech, but fascinating, posters captivated this audience, while proving that an interesting story is all you really need to draw in readers.
Go See It!Newseum 555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington DC, DC 20001 (202) 292-6100 Admission: $21.95/adults, $12.95/youths, FREE for kids 6 and under. Website:www.newseum.org
Note – This article was first published on April 15, 2009 in TheJourneyMom.com.