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Newseum to Close D.C. Location After Sale to Johns Hopkins University

Newseum
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP/Shutterstock

WASHINGTON — The Newseum, a museum dedicated to journalism and the First Amendment, and located in a prime piece of real estate along Pennsylvania Avenue, will close at the end of 2019.

The Freedom Forum, the creator and primary funder of the museum, announced the closure as part of the building’s sale to Johns Hopkins University, which will acquire the property for $372.5 million. The forum cited unsustainable operating costs.

Jan Neuharth, the chairwoman and CEO of the Freedom Forum, said they will “explore all options to find a new home in the Washington, D.C. area.”

The museum — an elaborate, glassy, and modernist facility — opened in 2008, and has drawn visitors with a mix of exhibits, such as a piece of the Berlin Wall, remnants of the antenna atop the World Trade Center, a journalist’s memorial, and other displays devoted to reporting and news gathering. It had become a popular locale for film screenings and premieres, such as a red carpet gala last year for the movie “The Post.”

The forum signaled that the Newseum was having financial difficulties in August 2017, when it announced a strategic review of its funding priorities. Such proposals as lease backs and joint ventures were considered, but the forum ultimately concluded that a sale of the building “was the best path forward.”

The Newseum previously operated out of a space in Arlington, Va., after it was launched by USA Today founder Al Neuharth.

Peter Prichard, the chair of the museum’s board of trustees, said, “We stand ready to continue much of the Newseum’s important work for decades to come — through digital outreach, traveling exhibits, and web-based programs in schools around the world, as well as hopefully in a new physical home in the area.”