By Jacqueline Trescott
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Add another date to crowded spring calendar. The founders of the Newseum, a state-of-the-art museum about the news industry, will announce today that they plan to open April 11, about six months later than originally announced.
"That is when everything will be done," said Charles L. Overby, the chief executive officer of the museum. By everything Overby means the seven levels with 250,000 square feet of exhibition space, including 15 theaters, 14 galleries, two broadcast studios, 100 original videos and more than 130 interactive stations. Intertwined in that is a history of the media, from the start of printing to the digital age.
At 6 a.m. today, the Newseum planned to post the April 11 date on the 40-by-22 foot electronic screen just inside its glass facade. Passersby at Pennsylvania Avenue and Sixth Street NW, where the building takes up half a block, will be able to see the announcement. The museum will also debut its front-pages display today with headlines and covers from 80 U.S. and international papers. It, too, will be visible from the sidewalk.
Overby also announced that The Washington Post will sponsor free admission for school groups from the District, eight counties in Maryland, and 11 cities and counties in Virginia for the first year. School officials had expressed concern about the $13 admission fee for children 7 to 12. (General admission is $20; tickets are $18 for visitors 65 and older, and free for age 6 and younger.) Overby said the museum has already signed up 30,000 children from around the country.
The Post's initiative grows out of the newspaper's "long-standing commitment to community and education," said Rima Calderon, senior director of communications for The Washington Post Co.
Museum officials had announced earlier that the museum would open in October 2007, but construction was delayed by the complicated designs and elaborate electronic displays. The cost of the museum is at $450 million, up from the $435 million figure announced previously.
The installation of the exhibitions started at the beginning of January, Overby said, and several groups have used the facility and tested some of the exhibitions.
The opening coincides with the joint meeting of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and the Newspaper Association of America and final days of the Cherry Blossom Festival, which had 1 million participants last year. Admission will be free for everyone on April 11, and ABC's "Good Morning America" will broadcast part of its program from one of the studios.
* * *In another museum development, the National Museum of American History announced yesterday that it is delaying its reopening from this summer to the fall. The Smithsonian museum closed in the fall of 2006 for a $85 million renovation.
"The museum has decided to list the time frame for reopening as fall 2008 in response to inquiries from visitors making travel plans and to provide them with a more realistic scenario," said museum Director Brent Glass.