Friday, February 5, 2010

Architecture & the Newseum

During the last couple of weeks, we have discussed the significance of architecture in relation to Washington D.C. and more generally, American history. As Dell Upton discusses in the chapter “Architecture in the United States,” a lot of information can be discerned about America examining architecture and the values that are held within a domestic space. For example, Jefferson’s Monticello stressed the division of private and public space, signifying that while the president wanted to maintain a neighborly, Republican social position with the community, he also valued solitude and reflection.
The Newseum, located just off the Mall in Washington D.C. also uses architecture to express its values. The Newseum is dedicated to providing visitors with five centuries of news. The museum is roughly 250,000 square feet, and is home to fifteen permanent exhibits, as well as seven rotating guest galleries that explore how news and media act as a tool of communication and knowledge throughout the world. The Berlin Wall Gallery examines how news, via word of mouth, filtered through the concrete barrier of East Germany when no other person of thing was allowed to enter.
When designing the Newseum, architects wanted to create a large open space that expressed the idea that news can be used as a tool to exploit secrets, reveal the truth, and gain a better understanding of the world. The exterior of the museum features a marble engraving of the 1st amendment and a large front wall of glass that exposes the inner-workings of the museum to passersby, and further plays upon the notion that news uncovers the truth.

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