The Newseum Is Being Acquired by Johns Hopkins University for $372.5 Million

By A.J. Katz Comment

The Newseum, the Washington D.C. museum dedicated to the First Amendment and history of the free press, is being sold after experiencing years of financial hardship.

The Baltimore Sun is reporting that Johns Hopkins University is buying the Newseum building at 555 Pennsylvania Avenue NW from owner and funder Freedom Forum for $372.5 million, as the Baltimore-based university looks to expand its presence in the Nation’s Capital.

The Newseum previously had a location in Arlington, Va., before relocating to its current facility in 2008. $372.5 million may sound like a lot, but the current steel and glass facility was originally built for $450 million.

According to the Sun, the sale means that the Newseum will vacate the current address for a different location in Washington D.C. at the end of the year.

According to JHU, the deal is “subject to all necessary regulatory approvals,” and the purchase “will be made possible through the sale of Johns Hopkins’ existing D.C. properties, university funds and philanthropic support.”

The sale comes nearly a year after The Washington Post reported execs of the museum were meeting with real estate investment bankers about the future of the building.

From Sarah Meehan of the Baltimore Sun:

Jan Neuharth, chair and CEO of the Freedom Forum, said in a statement the organization will begin exploring options for a new home for the Newseum in the D.C. area. The museum plans to preserve its permanent collection of artifacts and newspapers, according to the statement, and its future also could include digital outreach, traveling exhibits and online programs.

“This was a difficult decision, but it was the responsible one,” Neuharth said in a statement. “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.”

The Newseum was home for a period of time to ABC’s This Week and houses TV news memorabilia including Andy Rooney‘s desk and typewriter. It also includes the Journalists Memorial, a wall honoring those who have died in the service of newsgathering.

As of June 2018, the Journalists Memorial bears the names of 2,323 print, radio, TV, and digital journalists who have died in the last 180 years, while covering the news.

The Newseum’s atrium has also doubles as an event space. For instance, it hosted the 60th and 70th anniversary celebrations of Meet the Press.