25 Jan 2019 | Colin Dwyer | NPR
The Newseum is losing its stately glass-and-steel digs.
The organization behind the journalism museum, The Freedom Forum, says it has reached a $372.5 million deal with Johns Hopkins University to sell the Washington, D.C., building, throwing the Newseum’s long-term future into uncertainty.
“This was a difficult decision, but it was the responsible one,” Jan Neuharth, the Freedom Forum’s CEO and chair, said in a statement released Friday. “We remain committed to continuing our programs — in a financially sustainable way — to champion the five freedoms of the First Amendment and to increase public awareness about the importance of a free and fair press.
She said the organization plans to “explore all options” to find a new D.C.-area home for the Newseum, once it leaves the stately complex at 555 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., directly between the U.S. Capitol and the White House.
The Newseum’s exhibits, which showcase artifacts dedicated to journalism and its history, will remain open to visitors at that location through the end of the year — at which point Johns Hopkins expects to take over the property for the purposes of expanding and consolidating its presence in the nation’s capital.
The Baltimore-based university says more than 3,300 of its faculty, staff and students do their work in the city. That includes outposts of its international studies, business and nursing programs.
“With the acquisition and renovation of the Newseum, we will have an unparalleled opportunity to bring all of our current D.C.-based Johns Hopkins graduate programs together in a single, landmark, state-of-the-art building,” university President Ronald J. Daniels explained in an open letter Friday.
He said the school collected the funds to purchase the building “through the sale of our existing properties in D.C., university funds, and generous philanthropic support.” Just three months ago, the university announced that former New York City Mayor — and Johns Hopkins alumnus — Michael Bloomberg had donated $1.8 billion to the university’s coffers, rounding out his lifetime contributions to $6.4 billion.
The deal announced Friday, which remains subject to regulatory approval, also represents the end of a rather tumultuous era for the Newseum.
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