July 4, 2015

The Newseum and Chinatown

None of us having anything to do the day before Independence Day, Mom, Aunt Sharon, Logan, and I decided to go downtown and walk through the Newseum before hitting up nearby Chinatown for lunch. Mom and I had been to the Newseum ages ago so it was nice to go back and revisit the old exhibits I remembered, discover the exhibits I didn't, and see their newest exhibits!
Last time we were here, we learned that some poor member of the Newseum staff has to wake up at like four o'clock every morning to pull out the front pages to over 100 newspapers and put them in their cases around the museum front.
If you're in DC I highly recommend the Newseum, it has to be one of my favorite museums ever! They're running a promo from July 1--Labor Day (September 7) where 'youth' get in free....and youth is anyone under the age of 18! Logan and I both got in free, probably the very last time either of us will get a 'child discount'. If you decide to do a day touring the museums of DC, the Newseum opens earlier than the other museums and I seriously recommend it!
Aunt Sharon and Mom
This was our favorite graffiti'd-piece of the wall
The first stop on the Newseum tour is their section of the Berlin wall. This was the thing I remembered most about our previous visit to the Newseum, and it was lovely to revisit an old friend. You can touch a small piece of the wall, literally touching history, and walk through a guard tower as well as, of course, seeing the history played out around you in info bits.
Standing at the base of the guard tower and looking up
The west side of the wall is the decorated one, while the east side remains untouched--scrubbed clean every day it stood
Next we walked towards the newest exhibit: the Boomer List--a collection of portraits of famous/influential baby boomers, one born every year of the baby boomer generation.
Deepak Chopra was the start of the collection, born in 1947
Samantha! Kim Cattrall has always been one of my favorites
 This exhibit was very interesting, learning what each portrait subject thought about their generation and what helped form them, growing up in the baby boomer generation.
A timeline of the baby boomers, you can leave a sticky note telling what that time meant to you
You could literally press a button to smell: baby powder, fresh cut grass, and 'hippie musk'--all quintessential scents of the baby boomers, apparently
After the portrait gallery we headed to the FBI section....think mobsters, spies, and the most infamous news stories in the US from the last 20 years
Seeing all the FBI artifacts regarding soviet spies, mobster take-down, and sting operations was fun. Moving further into the exhibit introduces us to the Waco, Texas disaster, the Unabomber, and 9/11.
I liked this political cartoon regarding the Oklahoma City bombings
In addition to actually having the suit the FBI member that pulled one of the Davidians out of the burning Waco house, the Newseum has the genuine Unabomber cabin he was found hiding in. It's the first really heavy exhibit in the museum where you don't hear much open chatter.
We then took one of the huge glass elevators up to the sixth floor where we stepped out on the balcony for a breath of refreshing air.
The Capital Dome, currently under renovation
The Newseum stands on the site of the former National Hotel, the hotel where John Wilkes Booth stayed before fatally shooting President Lincoln
I'm still in love with DC architecture!
Even on the balcony the Newseum offers tidbits of history that occured on the site or the streets below, including presidential ingaguration marches, assassinations etc.
Once back inside we entered the Vietnam War exhibit, and learned the reasons for the extreme public backlash against the war.
Photographs were not permitted inside the actual exhibit, which had video monitors of former soldiers, news reports, journalists, and historians all talking about the unpopularity of the war. The main reasons were the huge death toll and the unclear reason for the presence of US troops in what was seen as a foreign conflict not needing our involvement.
Several of the pictures presented here in this exhibit Mom and I also saw at the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. That museum was as hard to walk through as the Holocaust museum, and the pictures get no easier to look at in smaller doses here.
The next exhibit was a huge display of newspapers, starting in the 1800s all the way up to modern times. The Boston Tea Party, President Lincoln's assassination, the Korean War, Diana's death....all covered here in the front pages displayed.  
The edges of the room covered more satirical and pop culture 'news' and had old SNL clips playing
O.J. Simpson's clothes he was wearing when cleared
The Wall Street Crash
Christiane Amanpour on the job
The crowning of Queen Elizabeth II
Next up was the Civil Rights movement exhibit, including the actual counter where the Greensboro Four staged the sit-in that changed the nation.
Logan behind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's jail door
The Newseum is definitely up-to-date in terms of news stories, this is a piece of the civil rights exhibit dedicated to Michael Brown's killing and the Ferguson demonstrations

After the civil rights exhibit was the 9/11 memorial and exhibit. By far the most somber and tear-provoking exhibit in the museum, at least for me. A huge destroyed antenna from one of the towers is on display, the timeline of the day surrounding it. A photojournalist that ran to the scene to take photos and died in the falling of the second tower, his story is told along with his photos. There are also handwritten letters and stories displayed on the wall, as well as an entire wall of the front covers of magazines and newspapers depicting the terrorist attack.
I was three when the 9/11 attacks occurred, and it still affects me. I definitely welled up walking through the exhibit--it's one of the hardest-hitting ones I've been through.
Next was the Lincoln exhibit, reporting the special 7-edition the New York Herald published in the course of a day after President Lincoln was shot.
A record seven papers were published in 24 hours to inform the public of the President's condition and who the suspect was
One of the last exhibits we chose to walk through was the Journalism and Journalist memorials--about journalism around the world as well as remembering journalists killed performing their jobs.
A map showing where the press is totally free (green), mildly free (yellow), and completely not-free (red)
The journalists captured and killed by ISIS were each given their own memorials here, including the last letter that James Foley wrote to his family before his execution. It's a strangely poignant letter, Foley discusses laughing and playing games with his fellow cellmates and how happy he was to get a cup of coffee with his meal. He finishes by promising his grandmother a dress when he gets home.
This truck was absolutely peppered with bullet holes, all in the name of journalism
This glass wall had thousands of names etched into the glass--all names of journalists and reporters killed covering stories
The final exhibit we walked through was the Internet and Radio history in journalism, including news stories even I recognized! The Monica Lewinksy scandal (on a separate note, I really suggest watching her Ted talk), Obama's election, Michael Jackson's death.
The final part of the Newseum experience (besides the gift shop) is, of course, the news room where you have the opportunity to give an actual-factual news report.
The 'TV studios' where you can give the weather, a report on Capital Hill, or behind the news desk!
Before heading off to lunch, we took a little stroll through the gift shop--a really eclectic collection of memorabilia.
Logan and Myself sporting the newest in American-and-proud fashion
After a good three hours walking around this museum, and indeed walking from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other based on the exhibit you were in, we were all ready for a lovely lunch in DC's Chinatown!
For the longest time I wasn't aware DC even had a Chinatown! Having visited Chinatown in New York, truly an experience everyone should have with their best friend, I was expecting something similar. Of course, DC's version of Chinatown is much smaller than the huge communities present in New York and, notably, San Francisco and the transition from 'not Chinatown' to 'Chinatown' is so smooth you might never notice it!
I do love walking DC's streets, exploring places I've never been before--really I need to spend more time here!
Of course, once you reach the huge gate you pretty much realize you're in Chinatown
We had a wonderful lunch at Tony Cheng's, clearly the place to be during its hey day as "Uncle Tony" has pictures with celebrities dining at his restaurant including Bill Clinton and, be still my heart, Alan Alda! (Still my all-time fave)
If you have the chance, I highly recommend the Newseum. Of course, some of the exhibits might be a little too heavy for young kids to handle, although it is pretty easy to walk through without stopping to the next exhibit. The Newseum includes a lot of interactive activities, lots of buttons to push and things to touch, as well as games that help connect with the news around you. All-in-all it's still one of my favorite museums, easily accessible by the Metro, that covers a lot of history through the eyes of journalism and news, a pretty interesting angle.
So I was a tourist in my own city today....and had a blast. How long has it been since you were a tourist right at home?

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