9 Amazing Museum Exhibits Going Away Soon!

Berlin Wall & Wheat girls

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Why 9, not 10?  Because I couldn’t possibly narrow it down to only 1 final one!  It’s a loss when a museum closes & amazing museum exhibits are pieced out & sold to museums and private collectors around the world. The Newseum in Washington DC will be closing at the end of 2019, its collection put away in storage where bits may be loaned out. There are really cool things that unless you visited DC by the end of 2019, most will never see. But, don’t feel like you’re missing out. It was hard to narrow my pick, but I’ve got you covered with my Top 9 Amazing Museum Exhibits that will have been hidden away!

1. The largest display of Berlin Wall in the world, outside Germany

8 sections at 12 feet high

After Germany was split in WWII, the Soviets abruptly built the wall between a Democratic West Germany and Communist East Germany.  The West German side was painted with vibrant graffiti art yet the stark, bare East German side manages to perfectly illustrate the tale of control, fear, and lack of freedom. We’ve seen single sections at a few other museums, much larger in person, but this is the most decorative and complete. I hope another museum picks this up so that it’s not hidden from the world. Beautiful, yet sobering piece.

Berlin Wall

2.  Touch the Berlin Wall

Even though we’ve seen pieces of the Wall several times, only 1 other museum allowed us to touch it. In the 28 years this wall stood, separating family and friends, restricting passage with armed guards, almost 5000 escaped East Germany. Through sewers and tunnels, hot air balloons and secret compartments in cars. A 77 year old jumped out an upper story building window to flee. Thousands more failed and were imprisoned as traitors and spies.  More than 200 were killed or died trying, their deaths covered up. The things this wall has seen. Once a symbol of pain, now an emblem of freedom and a country reunited in 1989 when the border was opened and the wall torn down.  It’s not often we can touch a piece of history.

Touch the Berlin Wall

3.  Three-story East German Guard Tower

Few are left; The only 1 in the U.S.  

High above the wall, armed with machine guns & the orders, ‘shoot to kill’, guards stood watch in this ‘Death Tower’ near the infamous crossing station, ‘Checkpoint Charlie’.  Ready to kill anyone escaping, though some of those fleeing were just in their teens. Guards were also killed, occasionally, and some also fled. 

 

Death Tower East Germany guard tower

4. Lenin Statue

8 feet tall, beheaded

There are Lenin statues around the world, but only a handful to see in the U.S.  Before WWII and the Cold War, Vladimir Lenin brought Communism to Russia (and the world) in the early 1900s.  He organized a coup (the Bolshevik Revolution) to overthrow the Russian government in 1917, eventually ruling it as the Soviet Union and the world’s 1st Communist state. Famine and poverty followed, a civil war ensued, and political enemies were killed in bloody, mass executions. He died in 1924 bringing Stalin to power.  His body, to this day, is still on display in Red Square in Moscow.  When the USSR fell in 1991, many statues of Communist leaders were decapitated and toppled by its citizens.

 

  • The gallery also displays the pen Soviet President Gorbachev had to borrow from an American journalist when his ink was dry as his time as leader was up.  He used it to sign the dissolution of the USSR and resign as Soviet President in 1991.
beheaded Lenin statue

5.  World Trade Center North Tower Antenna

The centerpiece of the 9/11 exhibit was already world famous on the NYC skyline, but became iconic, a symbol of the September 11th attacks, after its tower was the very 1st to be hit.  The scorched, twisted remains of the famous antenna had topped the World Trade Center’s North Tower.  Over 2000 people died at her feet.  The U.S. flag in the background flew over the Pentagon during reconstruction after the attacks there.  The 9/11 (2001) attacks killed almost 3,000 people, thousands more injured, millions of lives forever changed.  They have quite a few pieces from each location of 9/11 wreckage from the planes, from the buildings, and from the victims who died in them.  They have a case of phones.  Phones that rang for days in the rubble, many of their owners would never go home. How eerie and overwhelming it must have been for the searchers and investigators as they heard the phones ring for days. The heartache & desperation on the other end as mothers, husbands, children and loved ones called with a growing hysteria, looking for loved ones not yet home. They have wallets, credits cards, & countless other effects of victims (the purse & id of a mom flying on the doomed plane with her child, headed to Disneyland). They packed their bags and pockets as they started that morning, thinking the day like any other. We never know.  The Port Authority who donated this has asked that it always be on view and not go into storage.  Hopefully it finds a new home.  We must remember.

World Trade Center Tower after 9/11

6.  The Unabomber’s Cabin & Manifesto

Their FBI exhibit is top notch with evidence from dozens of world-known, high profile criminal cases, on loan from the FBI.  Hopefully the FBI will continue to exhibit the collection, but their HQ museum has limited, prime space so most evidence remains stored.  The Newseum has the Unabomber’s cabin & a copy of his manifesto sent to the NY Times.  A genius turned hermit, mail bomber & murderer, Ted Kaczynski terrorized the public for 17 years, killing 3 and brutally injuring 23.  He lived in this 10×12 shack in Montana where he made the bombs and wrote his manifesto.  His brother, recognizing the wording, alerted the FBI, and Ted was captured in 1996.  

The collection is a true crime buff’s dream including evidence you’ve seen on shows, but never thought you’d see in person.  Weapons, clothes, disguises, cars, letters, wreckage & personal effects of murderer’s & kidnappers brought to justice, some with execution.  This is a fraction of the collection:

  • 9/11 hijackers’ car & clothing
  • Shoe bomber’s shoes & the belts fellow passengers used to restrain him 
  • Oklahoma City bombing- stopped clock blown off the wall 2 blocks away 
  • DC Beltway Snipers’ sniper rifle
  • OJ’s suit he wore to court when acquitted of murdering ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson & her friend, Ron Goldman
  • Belongings of bombers turned evidence-  Atlanta Olympic & Boston bombers, Time Square car bomber & planned Capitol bomber after all were caught
  • Infamous mobster Whitey Bulger’s capture hat, as well as John Dillinger’s when gunned down

7.  The 1st Newspaper to publish the Declaration of Independence

On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. The Pennsylvania Evening Post was the very 1st to publish it.  For the price of “two coppers”, this is how many colonists 1st learned the news. This is 1 of only 19 known copies left.  Other portions of the paper offer “intelligence” of troop, militia & naval movement so that they could be informed about the Revolutionary War.  Newspapers and 1st-hand accounts were their only Revolution and war coverage.  The paper also includes the ad of a jilted husband, Joseph Cartwright, who reports on his estranged wife and “requests all persons not to trust her, as he will not pay any debts she may contract.” 

1st Publishing of the Declaration of Independence newspaper

8.  Actual Newspapers From the Past 500 Years!

Entire History of printed news

Fascinating to read, wish I could take them home and pore over them!  Historic front pages from newspapers & magazines dating back to the 1400s– The actual front pages from countless significant events through history, 400 (40,000 in archive) newspapers dating back 500 years! Read the headlines & stories from the day of nearly every major historical event over the last 5 centuries.  See how events were viewed during the time and see if or how that’s changed, looking back:

  • Mary Queen of Scots beheading
  • Invention of the telephone
  • Boston Tea Party Punishment
  • WWI
  • Sinking of the Titanic
  • The Salem Witch Trials
  • JFK & MLK Jr’s Assassinations
  • The South Secedes prior to American Civil War
  • Watergate, Nixon’s resignation, Iran Contra
  • The Deaths of Blackbeard, John Lennon, Jesse James, Lenin & Kurt Cobain
  • The Prohibition
  • The Atomic Bomb
  • Babe Ruth’s hits  
1606 Gunpowder Plot paper
1606: The Gunpowder Plot

9.  Rooftop View of U.S. Capitol & Pennsylvania Avenue

With plaques telling its history from swamp to greeting the world’s leaders

But, the view!!!  Pennsylvania Avenue, home to our White House, was just a dirt road in 1800 when the federal government moved to DC from Philadelphia.  Businesses came, oil street lamps were added 40 years later, the only lit street in the city, at the time.  Pigs and cows roamed the street.  Muddy “ooze” went up over your ankles, sometimes snatching a shoe from a foot or stalling carriages.  Deep ruts gashed the road, bumping around carriage rides, when dry.  Once the location of the National Hotel where John Wilkes Booth stayed leading up to Lincoln’s assassination, this building will only be open to the public till the end of the month.  The Newseum building has been sold to Johns Hopkins University.  

Newseum view of US Capitol

It was very hard to narrow this to 9.  There were so many artifacts that your favorites or ‘wow’ moments may change from day to day.  There wasn’t room for all of the amazing museum exhibits the Newseum had.  They display the daily Front Pages with news from around the world and all 50 states.  The Newseum is a gorgeous building with a front row, downtown seat and great view.  I’m grateful to have visited and hope they can find homes for the exhibits so that generations can continue to learn & remember.  

 

 

 

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Once Upon a Wheat

Terri & Bill Wheat

Hey, there! I’m Terri & my husband Bill and I have 4 kids (2 boys & twin girls + a pup!) and we’ve been traveling since our kids were little. At this mid point in my journey, I’m trying to shove as much as I can into this precious gift of life and squeeze all the joy and growth and learning I can out of it. Making memories that matter, building a life of joy & meaning, actively pursuing my greatest potential. I have a zest for life, for learning, for growth & I want to give you the resources & inspiration to have better vacations and get more from your life!

9 Amazing Museum Exhibits Going Away Soon!

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9 Amazing Museum Exhibits Going Away Soon!