July 21st –
Museums are almost never on the list of fun things to do. No one wants to see a museum unless you’re a tourist with nothing to do for the day. Who would want to spend their time staring at pictures of paint splatters, or reading about the history of some obscure inventor (unless you’re into those things, which the average person rarely is).
The major reason for this comes from the design of the museum itself. And no, I’m not going to get all architectural. Museums are usually extremely dull because walking around hallways with pictures hung up on either side is not stimulating for the mind.
This is why the newseum in DC is so incredible. It takes much of what we know to be boring about the typical museum and resolves it. The building is vast, with wide open spaces, a central glass elevator and most importantly, interactive displays.
But maybe the theme of the museum itself gives it an upper hand. The newseum focuses on the history of journalism, a topic vast enough to be appealing to a wide number of people. Some of the most interesting aspects of the museum:
Pulitzer Prize Photo Gallery:
Pictures may say a thousand words, but Pulitzer pictures define the entire human condition in that one snapshot.
The Five Freedoms:
This is something I would love to see in Libya, in the most public place possible; a written declaration of what our freedoms are. It’s good to be reminded. I’ll list them in order of importance to me.
Freedom of Press by Country:
Some pretty big shockers here. There are countries who had more free press that I had thought, and others less. For example, Russia has very little press freedom. I mean, okay, Russia isn’t exactly a flourishing democracy, but I had expected them to have some press freedom, especially after seeing the protests on Red Square during the elections this year. On the other hand, countries like Kuwait have a fair level of press freedom, despite the fact that they are “monarchies”.
But what really, really made my heart soar was seeing Libya’s ranking. Before the revolution we would have been deep in the red. We had no press in Libya, much less a free one. But there, in yellow, among the developing nations, was Libya. These maps are updated every year, so I’m positive that very soon we will be in the same league as the first world countries. And I’m not just saying that out of optimism. There is literally no restrictions on our press at the moment, and that’s something we won’t be changing.
Another significant thing I saw was, among the fallen hero journalist, was Mohammed Nabous, a young man from my hometown who broke media silence during the beginning of the revolution and who was killed. It’s good to know how far his voice reached.
They actually have part of the Berlin Wall in the museum! How insanely cool is that? A piece of history just sitting there. Can you imagine how many forlorn eyes have gazed on? How much misery those blocks of concrete caused? It also reminded me of another wall, built to separate and oppress, and which still stands, under the pretense of ‘self-defense’.
There was also the 4D theater, which showed videos about movers in journalistic history like Nellie Bly and Edward R. Murrow. At the top is a terrace with a spectacular view of DC.