The Berlin Wall
There are several threads to this part of the adventure, and again one of them weaves my father Ed Reep’s art into the story. We’ve been to Washington many times and we went for a specific purpose this time, which I haven’t even blogged about yet. The one sight we hadn’t seen and wanted to see was the Newseum. First, though, we saw my father’s World War II work, produced when he was a soldier and war artist with the 5th Army in Italy, at the Army Art Archives. And we also saw this.
That’s my husband and me standing in front of two large paintings of the Berlin Wall. Sometime in the 1970s I think, the Army recommissioned my father as a brigadier general and sent him to Germay to paint his impressions of the Wall. The paintings are stunning.
There were also a number of drawings. So that was something we didn’t expect to see.
We made it over to the Newseum, which is spectacular.
And were unexpectedly greeted by the…
Eight sections of the wall were on display as well as a large guard tower. It was surreal to imagine a city cut in half and living in the shadow of a wall.
So far, there seemed to be a lot of synchronicity in this visit.
If anyone has seen the movie Goodbye Lenin, the next photo will elicit a chuckle. This real-life scene figured in a funny yet poignant scene in the movie.
So we got a double dose of the Berlin Wall – the real thing and the Wall as recorded by my father while visiting the real thing. But on to the Newseum.
The purpose of the Newseum is to tell the story of news and how it has been reported since the printed word was first able to be spread. Starting with the first papers up through modern times an impressive array of front pages has been assembled. I found these interesting.
Guy Fawkes caught my eye because there were people at Occupy Wall Street in masks I didn’t recognize and I believe they were from Guy Fawkes and the gunpowder plot.
The lighting was very dim in this particular exhibit to preserve the media.
The exterior of the museum and again on the 6th floor is the Front Pages Gallery. Every morning before the museum opens, the front page of a newspaper from every one of the 50 states is printed and put on display.
It’s pretty awesome. There are interactive displays where you can find the front page from any paper in the nation so I found our Bakersfield Californian and one from Wyoming where one of our daughters lives.
If editors make good choices, headlines and photos can tell us much about the tenor of the times. I think The Bakersfield Californian made a particularly good choice the day we were there. I was not a particular fan of President Bush, but I would have never shaken my finger at him and given him a scolding. What bad form! Yet Obama seems to be responding with concern and dignity.
All kinds of things were tucked into the Newseum as they traced news from the beginning through the digital age. Tim Russert’s office was recreated – or rather moved just as it was when he died – over here. There was an FBI and the News exhibit and for some reason the Unibomber’s cabin was there as well as a mock-up of the shoe bomber’s shoes – which were quite complex! And the Greensboro lunch counter was here – one of the places the civil rights movement began with sit-ins.
By then, television news was starting to influence events unlike in any other time in history and nothing would be the same.
The Newseum also has an exciting array of Pulitzer Prize winning photographs, an excellent First Amendment exhibit, and an interactive ethics center. There’s an interactive newsroom – so so much. It took us an entire day and part of another and we still weren’t done. I haven’t mentioned nearly everything there is to see.
One unfortunate feature that they are particularly proud of is a 4 D movie that everyone is strongly encouraged to see. Much is made about “be careful if you’re pregnant or have back problems,” etc. so we were ready for some excitement. The seat lurched a few times. Well, lurched is too strong a word. It was lame. That’s the only thing I can say. Anti-climactic. The movie itself started off strong and then kind of stopped. So spend your Newseum time on anything but the 4D movie!
So far, this trip had exhibited unexpected synchronicity topped off by the Berlin Wall, and we hadn’t even reached the event that brought us to Washington in the first place. That’s next.