In 2008, the Newseum — a private museum dedicated to exploring modern history as told through the eyes of journalists — opened on prime Washington real estate.
Sitting almost equidistant between the White House and the Capitol on Pennsylvania Avenue, the glass-walled building became instantly recognizable for its multi-story exterior rendition of the First Amendment.
Eleven years later that experiment is coming to an end. After years of financial difficulties, the Newseum will close its doors Tuesday.
"We're proud of how we did our storytelling," said Sonya Gavankar, the outgoing director of public relations. "We changed the model of how museums did their work."
The building was sold for $372.5 million to Johns Hopkins University, which intends to consolidate its scattered Washington-based graduate studies programs under one roof.
Gavankar attributed the failure to a variety of factors but acknowledged that the Newseum's status as a for-pay private institution was a harder sell in a city full of free museums. A Newseum ticket costs $25 for adults, and the building is right across the street from the National Gallery of Art and within blocks of multiple Smithsonian museums.
"Competing with free institutions in Washington was difficult," Gavankar said.
Another problem, organizers said, is that the Newseum struggled to attract local residents, instead depending on a steady diet of tourists and local school groups. Actual Washington-area residents, who do frequent the Smithsonian and elsewhere, mostly came on school trips and rarely returned as adults.
Claire Myers fits that profile. The D.C. resident recalls coming to the Newseum in high school in a senior-year class trip. She only returned in late December for a final visit because she heard it was closing at the end of the year.
"I do think part of the reason was because it's a paid museum," she said. "Why go out of my way to do this when I could just go to any other free museum?"
The $25 price tag, Myers said, creates a pressure to set aside the whole day and take in every exhibit, whereas at one of the free Smithsonian museums, she knows she can come back another time to catch whatever she missed. But Myers said she was deeply impressed by the exhibits, particularly the Newseum's signature gallery of Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs.
"I do wish it wasn't going away," she said.
The museum's focus evolved over the years, showcasing not just journalism and historic events, but all manner of free speech and civil rights issues and some whimsical quirks along the edges. Exhibits during the Newseum's final days included an exploration of the cultural and political influence of Jon Stewart and "The Daily Show," a look at the history of the struggle for LGBTQ rights and a display depicting the history of presidential dogs.
Gavankar said the Freedom Forum, which originally maintained the Newseum in northern Virginia for years, would continue its mission in different forms. The educational foundation maintains a pair of exhibits on the Berlin Wall in both Reagan and Dulles airports. Next year, those displays will be replaced by exhibits on the women's suffrage movement. The current Rise Up! exhibit on LGBTQ rights will move to a new long-term home in the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle.
William Greider, a longtime political writer for The Nation, Rolling Stone and The Washington Post, died Wednesday at the age of 83, according to his former editor.
The Nation's Editorial Director Katrina vandenHeuvel tweeted Thursday that Greider understood "something all too rare in this 24-7 media world. The process of reimagining democracy requires not only real respect for the people, deep reporting, historical insight, but also patience."
Before joining The Nation in 1999, Greider was a columnist at Rolling Stone for 17 years. Before that, he was a reporter and editor at The Washington Post.
One of Greider's first well-known articles was a profile of David Stockman, President Ronald Reagan's budget director and a champion of supply-side economics. When "The Education of David Stockman" appeared in The Atlantic in 1981, his comment that "None of us really understands what's going on with all these numbers" created a White House firestorm. Stockman later said he was "taken to the woodshed" by Reagan after the article was published.
Greider's books included "Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country," "Who Will Tell the People? The Betrayal of American Democracy" and "One World, Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism."
Greider died at his home in Washington complications of congestive heart failure, his son, Cameron, told The New York Times.
Southwest China's Sichuan Province Thursday unveiled the signboard of China's first museum on antique book repairing, an endangered craft vital to the country's huge inventory of ancient texts.
The 1,100-square-meter museum in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan, displays 500 artifacts that allow the public to better understand the craft's complicated procedures and behold the works of accomplished restorers.
It also features a demonstration zone for visitors to view the process, which includes over 20 steps from making glue to bookbinding.
Peng Dequan, who initiated the founding of the museum, said China is under strain to salvage many ancient books and documents that suffer from mildew, moths and other forms of damage.
Many skilled restorers, however, are elderly without successors, which prompted him to open the museum to promote the craft.
In China, books written or printed before 1912 featuring classical book-binding styles are classified as antique books. It is estimated that China has about 50 million antique books, among which the foremost 20 million have been protected, leaving a daunting task for book repairers.
Da Chen, the brilliant storyteller who drew from the hardships he suffered as a persecuted child growing up in the midst of China's cultural revolution to create the critically acclaimed memoir "Colors of the Mountain," has died at age 57.
Chen died of lung cancer on Dec. 17, his wife, Dr. Sun-Ling Chen, told The Associated Press on Tuesday from the family's home in Temecula, California.
His most recent book, "Girl Under a Red Moon," was published just three months ago.
Chen's breakthrough came in 1999 with the critically acclaimed, best-selling "Colors of the Mountain," in which he recounted the abuses he and his family suffered during the latter years of the country's Cultural Revolution.
It was a time when the Communist Party and its leader, Max Zedong, were cementing their grip on power following the country's 1949 revolution and Chen's family, who had been prosperous landowners, became pariahs, as did many others.
Chen was bullied in school and eventually kicked out to work in farm fields as a pre-teen while his father and grandfather, college-educated intellectuals, were tortured and sent to reeducation camps.
"He watched his father being hung up by his thumbs and beaten and his grandfather stoned frequently with rocks thrown at him by children," Chen's wife said. "He would undergo a lot of humiliation parades where they would throw fruit and other things at him. Frequently he was sent to labor camps where he worked with people twice his age digging irrigation trenches in the mountains."
Eventually a kindhearted teacher sneaked Chen back into school and, after Mao died in 1976, he was allowed to take the country's college entrance exam on which he scored among the highest in the country. He was admitted to the prestigious Beijing Language and Cultural University where upon graduation he joined the faculty teaching English.
After being offered a scholarship to Nebraska's Union College, Chen recalled arriving in the United States with little more than $30 and his treasured bamboo flute. He supported himself for a time as a waiter in a Chinese restaurant.
"He always said he was one of the best Chinese waiters in Lincoln, Nebraska," his wife recalled with a chuckle.
Soon after his arrival in Nebraska, however, he received a scholarship offer from Columbia University and headed to New York.
After earning a law degree, he went to work as an investment banker on Wall Street. That's when he also began to turn his hand to writing, inspired by the great thriller writer John Grisham.
He tried twice to write a legal thriller like Grisham's, recalled his wife who worked as his editor. She described the first effort as "awful" and the second as "mediocre."
It was after the second one, she told him, that he ought to start writing down those stories he'd told his family about his early years in China.
The result was "Colors of the Mountain," published to immediate acclaim.
A New York Times best seller, it has been published in seven languages and, like his other books, taught at schools and universities.
"Despite the devastating circumstances of his childhood and adolescence, Chen recounts his coming of age with arresting simplicity," Publishers Weekly said of the book. "Readers will cry along with this sad, funny boy who proves tough enough to make it, every step of the painful way."
Other works include "Sounds of the River," which recounted his leaving his poor south China town of Yellow Stone to attend college in Beijing.
In "Brothers: A Novel," Chen turned to fiction in addressing the Cultural Revolution, this time with the tale of two brothers, one born into wealth as the son of a general, another into poverty as the son of the general's mistress.
He also published several children's books, including, "Wandering Warrior," a fantasy story set in ancient China in which he said the 11-year-old protagonist was the kind of heroic young warrior he fantasized being.
His most recent work, "Girl Under a Red Moon," casts his real-life sister Xi Xi as the heroine during China's Cultural Revolution.
In addition to his wife, Chen is survived by a daughter, Victoria, a son, Michael, and four siblings.
Memorial services are pending.
Alliance Française de Dhaka’s musical event 'Cello-Piano-Audio 3' by renowned maestro cellist Philip Hazra and Russian pianist Yulia Evdokimova enthralled the classical music lovers on Saturday.
Despite the chill factor in the weather, classical music admirers joined the musical duet event which was held at the La Galerie in Alliance Française de Dhaka, Dhanmondi in the capital from 6.30 pm to 7.30 pm.
The tracklist for the third edition contained a total of 12 tracks: Theme from ‘Love Story’ (Accompanied by guest pianist Zurafa Tasnim Heeya, originally composed by Francis Lai and Carl Sigman); ‘Prelude, Suite no. 1’ by J. S. Bach, ‘Ballade Pour Adeline’ by P. de Sellnville, ‘Traumerei’ by Schumann, ‘Symphony no. 40’ by W. A. Mozart, ‘The Swan’ by C. Saint-Saens, ‘Yellow’ by Coldplay/ Brooklyn Duo, ‘Sound of Silence’ by Paul Simon, ‘Perfect’ by Ed Sheeran, ‘Game of Thrones’ by Ramin Djawadi, ‘Salut d'amour’ by Edward Elgar and ‘Thais - Meditation’ by j. Massenet.
“Although the weather is very, very cold- the musical duo turned the evening mesmerizing through their excellent instrument playing,” Bushra, an enthusiast in the audience, told UNB the event.
Cellist Philip Hazra has been promoting western classical music in Bangladesh for a long time through teaching Violin, Viola, Cello and Double Bass. As a maestro of violin and cello, he has been teaching at Alliance Française de Dhaka since 2007.
Russian pianist Yulia Evdokimova, on the other hand, has also been teaching piano in Bangladesh for the last twenty years and well-known everywhere for her magnificent piano recitation.