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What the Fall of the Newseum Says About News, and Museums

The D.C. museum devoted to a free press will sell its building to Johns Hopkins after years of financial struggle. But the Newseum could still have a bright future.
The Newseum sold its Pennsylvania Avenue address (but not that giant First Amendment) to Johns Hopkins University for $372 million.
The Newseum sold its Pennsylvania Avenue address (but not that giant First Amendment) to Johns Hopkins University for $372 million.Jose Luis Magana/AP

It’s so tempting to read the Newseum’s failure as a metaphor.

After years of financial struggles, the museum devoted to the free press announced that it was selling its decade-old building, a pristine, purpose-built facility with an unobstructed view of the Capitol, to Johns Hopkins University in January for $372.5 million. The Newseum’s loss is the university’s gain, as it gives Johns Hopkins space to consolidate four different properties in Washington, D.C., plus a seat in the room where it happens. For the museum’s part, during the same week that BuzzFeed, HuffPost, and Gannett cut more than 1,000 jobs, the Newseum also announced that it was looking for new opportunities.