Over the weekend, I finally got to the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
I am a little predispositioned to like it, as the title is a portmanteau, which is usually pretty amaziful.
What struck me the most was how much this building reminded me, not of journalism, but of journalists. Overall the structure was driven, determined, accessible, honest, pompous and flawed.
The interior spaces were open, filled poetically with the blinding light of criticism and truth. The whole building sits gingerly and tidy on the edge of its seat, like a well-dressed wallflower begging to be asked by anyone.
What bothered me the most was that the floor plan and progression of spaces were overly complicated. You are confused on purpose and I suspect the intention was to force discomfort which then allows you to discover how to get along on your own. It’s possible that this was the architect’s intention, because that’s what reporters have to do when they follow a story.
That may be what journalists have to do, but it shouldn’t be what architects do. Museums are for the people, and as such you should make it as clear as possible for us to understand why we should know what’s going on. It may be my own bizarre bias, but I think confusion only works in religious space and homes. Being lost should be a personal experience, just like finding your way is always a measure of personal success.
Confusion, when pushed onto other people, is just rude and inconvenient.
The one area I did like was the +40’ First amendment etched in stone on the front. Often journalists are accused of hiding behind the first amendment, but that’s what its there for. And having it physically shielding the building not only allows it to pay homage to the other great architecture in DC
but it also shields this building from the terrible fate of being overly indulgent and boring.
Long Story Short: Stephen Colbert, may have been right: Newsoleum.
Also, Jo, we might have competition: community.livejournal.com/doorwindowwall/