The Newseum opens latest permanent exhibit: HP New Media Gallery.
By Kinne Chapin
The Newseum has long been known for blending high and low tech: visitors can stroll through a gallery of print newspapers that span hundreds of years of history, before ducking around the corner to virtually “play reporter “ in the Interactive Newsroom.
But with the HP New Media Gallery, the Newseum will tip its scales towards new technology. The museum’s newest permanent exhibit hopes to place visitors at the center of the whirlwind evolution of new media – from Twitter, to Facebook, to digital news sites. Surrounded by Twitter feeds that demonstrate the breakneck pace of digital news, visitors can participate in five interactive experiences and watch videos that demonstrate the growth of global media.
Like many of the Newseum’s exhibits, the HP Gallery will blend the interactive with the educational. Visitors can explore the history of digital news, such as the tweets following China’s 2008 earthquake, at two eleven foot-wide touch-walls. They will also be able to build and publish their own news page at the “Choose the News” gallery, an experience that will allow each visitor to participate in the fast-paced creation of digital news and compare their efforts against the Web pages of traditional news sources. All of the displays in the exhibit are digital and ever-changing, a pace that replicates the constant flow of information through new media sources. All the technology in the exhibit itself – from the touch walls to the story boards – can be easily removed and replaced with the latest electronics.
Realizing that the phenomenon of new media had taken off since it first opened its doors in 2008, the Newseum decided to open the HP New Media Gallery in order to complement its traditional exhibit on TV, radio, and Internet as news sources. As Senior Vice President of Broadcasting for the Newseum Paul Sparrow explains, the exhibit format was intended to get visitors excited about participating in the creation of news. “New media is really all about participation, it is a tool that allows people to join the global conversation,” Sparrow reflects. “We knew we needed to create a gallery that was much more participatory.”
The gallery is a landmark for the Newseum in more ways than one– not only is it the museum’s first exhibit dedicated to new media, but it’s also the first permanent exhibit added to the museum’s collection since it opened in 2008. The exhibit will open to visitors on Friday, April 27.
Sparrow and the Newseum team hope that visiting the new exhibit will spark a conversation about the responsibility that comes with using new media as a news source. Part of the Newseum’s mission is to educate the public about the role of the free press in a democracy, and, as Sparrow says, “The definition of a free press has changed because of new media, because now everyone can be a reporter. Being a reporter, you have to participate in the conversation, and with that participation comes responsibility. That’s the message we’re trying to send more than anything else – that these new tools are very powerful and they’re very wonderful, but you have to understand the responsibility that comes with them.”
As this new exhibit reminds us, though the way people receive news might change, news itself never sleeps. With the HP New Media Gallery, the Newseum gives a nod to the future of journalism, as well as acknowledges its past.
The Newseum is located at 555 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, 20001.