Freedom Forum Agrees to Sell 555 Pennsylvania Avenue to Johns Hopkins University

Today, the Freedom Forum — the creator and primary funder of the Newseum — is announcing that it has recently entered into an agreement to sell the building in which the Newseum is located to Johns Hopkins University, a premier academic institution. The University will use the building as a new consolidated center for its DC-based graduate programs.

The deal remains subject to all necessary regulatory approvals, and the Newseum will remain open to the public in this location through 2019.

The sale comes at the conclusion of a 16-month strategic review, announced in August 2017, of the Freedom Forum’s funding priorities, including an assessment of the Newseum’s unsustainable operating costs. The purpose of the review was to identify financially responsible solutions for the building through creative partnerships, a partial sale, leaseback scenarios, or other joint ventures. Despite those efforts, the Freedom Forum review made clear that a sale of the facility was the best path forward to enable the organization and its affiliates to continue their First Amendment-based mission. Johns Hopkins will acquire the property for $372.5 million.

Since its opening in 2008, the Freedom Forum has committed more than $600 million to build and fund the Newseum, one of the largest gifts to any museum anywhere in the world.

“This was a difficult decision, but it was the responsible one,” said Jan Neuharth, chair and CEO of the Freedom Forum. “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. With today’s announcement, we can begin to explore all options to find a new home in the Washington, DC area.”

“The Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue has delighted millions with its entertaining and educational exhibits, garnering five-star reviews from critics and visitors alike,” said Peter Prichard, chair of the Newseum board of trustees. “Our patrons learned about the joys, the duties, and even the dangers journalists experience in their work, and why a free and fair press is so important to a well-functioning democracy.

“We stand ready to continue much of the Newseum’s important work for decades to come — through digital outreach, traveling exhibits, and web-based programs in schools around the world, as well as hopefully in a new physical home in the area.”

“All of the artifacts on display in the museum will remain on exhibit for our visitors to learn from while the details of the agreement are settled,” said Carrie Christoffersen, curator and executive director of the Newseum. “Our collection preserves journalism and news history, and we will continue to be responsible stewards of our permanent collection of historic artifacts and newspapers.”

The mission of the Newseum, located in Washington, DC, is to increase public understanding of the importance of a free press and the First Amendment. Visitors experience the story of news, the role of a free press in major events in history, and how the core freedoms of the First Amendment — religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition — apply to their lives.

The Newseum is a 501(c)(3) public charity funded by generous individuals, corporations and foundations, including its principal funder, the Freedom Forum. The Freedom Forum — dedicated to free press, free speech and free spirit for all people — is a nonpartisan private foundation that champions the five freedoms of the First Amendment.

Established July 4, 1991 by founder Al Neuharth, the Freedom Forum is the principal funder of the Newseum and the Freedom Forum Institute, and sponsors work to educate the public about the importance of the First Amendment. It also supports newsroom diversity and excellence in journalism, with programs including the Power Shift Project, the annual Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference, the Chips Quinn Scholars, and the Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in the Media.

14 thoughts on “Freedom Forum Agrees to Sell 555 Pennsylvania Avenue to Johns Hopkins University

  1. So sorry to hear this news. The Newseum is a wonderful museum with some of the best exhibits that will ever be seen. Fascinating and thought provoking from start to finish. Such a loss. It will be missed.

  2. I will be sorry to see this facility close. I was a fan of the Newseum before I even worked at the Rosslyn location, and found this one to be very solid, if perhaps too big to adequately tour in a day.

    I hope that the new outreach will serve the organization’s mission well. At no time in our nation’s history, has a free press and free speech and all of the freedoms afforded by the First Amendment been more important. I hope that the giant marble representation of the First Amendment will find a new home.

  3. It’s sad to see the closure of this amazing collection. It would be wonderful to see if the Smithsonian can purchase the collection and continue showing it as part of their mission.

  4. The Newseum has been a beacon in the search for truth and the 1st Amendment freedoms we often take for granted. It’s location was perfect! I am so sorry to see it leaving. Maybe Johns Hopkins can collaborate & enable a dual usage with their program?!

  5. Just returned from an inspiring trip to DC and an amazing 4 hours at the Newseum. It was sad to see how few people were touring this wonderful museum. Perhaps it should be moved to a city where people are used to paying admission to museums rather than stay in a place where most museums are free of charge.

  6. What a terrible turn of events! I have studied First Amendment freedoms my entire life and realize at this age that we simply cannot be true to the mission and visions of our Founding Fathers in the absence of a populus who understands fully the principles of Freedom of Press, Religion, Speech, Assembly and Petition. The Newseum needs to exist in our Capitol and importantly, needs to be executed as a virtual exhibit at every state capitol and major city over time. Every 8th graders and 10th grader in America should experience such a virtual exhibition to grasp how crucial their freedoms are to living as Americans.

  7. This would be a tragic loss! I have seen major museums around the world and, by far, the Newseum is the most impactful museum I have ever encountered. There must be a solution. It is an educational treasure that every high school student needs to visit. I believe that a central museum should be continued but would also urge a traveling museum and a virtual museum that would allow maximum exposure to these deeply touching and introspective provoking displays.

  8. What a great loss to the people of this nation. Many come from all across this country to visit Washington, D.C. and to visit the wonderful museums so many of which are free. Of all the museums, The Newseum is probably the most important, especially in this challenging time in our nation’s history. My husband, I, and two of our grandchildren (aged 13 and 14) spent several hours at the Newseum in June this year, and all of us agree that this is an outstanding museum, one that should be on the list of visits of anyone coming to our nation’s capital. The admission fee ($240) for the four of us, however, would prohibit visits from so many. I firmly believe that this wonderful museum should be part of the Smithsonian and free to all who want to experience it, especially the thousands of school children who come to D.C. on field trips—from nearby, and far away.

  9. I have an eerie feeling that the closing of Newseum signals a downfall of freedom and democracy in America and the world. I hope I am too pessimistic.
    A very small tiny fraction of the government budget can keep Newseum open. What a tragedy for freedom and democracy!

  10. I am devastated… I owned The Clarendon Hotel where Don Bolles was fatally injured in a car-bombing in 1976. I hear that his car and exhibit are looking for a new home… perhaps The Clarendon could host it until another home is found…

    I wish someone would have stepped up to save this amazing museum… but with today’s ‘president’ being anti-journalism, I am not one bit surprised.

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