Twenty years ago today, then-Vice President Al Gore stood on the Newseum’s original site in Arlington, Va., directly across from the Lincoln Memorial, and told the waiting crowd, “We are here to celebrate the press. This is where we take a critical look at how that freedom has been used and sometimes abused.”
Since those opening-day remarks, the Newseum’s mission has expanded to cover all five freedoms of the First Amendment – religion, speech, press, assembly and petition.
It’s therefore fitting that today, its 20th anniversary, the Newseum is celebrating the Free Expression Awards, which recognize six individuals for their work on behalf of our First Amendment freedoms. A civil rights activist, a lawyer, two CEOs, a journalist and an editor will be honored with awards in five categories: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, arts and entertainment, and lifetime achievement.
At the Newseum’s current home on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., front pages from newspapers around the world are still displayed every day, posted in their glass cases as the day dawns. New and ever-evolving exhibits use cutting-edge technology to help visitors form a deeper understanding of the First Amendment and how it impacts our daily lives. The Newseum has been known for its use of interactive technologies since it opened in 1997.
The video and photo gallery below commemorate the Newseum’s opening day on April 18, 1997, showing that, while the times have changed, the museum’s role as a champion for free expression remains the same.