Johns Hopkins University is set to purchase the Newseum building, with plans to convert the space to hold its Washington, D.C.-based graduate programs, according to a Jan. 25 announcement from the university.

The sale remains subject to all regulatory approvals, and the museum will remain open to the public through 2019. The Newseum, an interactive museum which promotes free press and the first amendment, is looking to relocate within the D.C. area after Johns Hopkins assumes ownership over its former location.

SAM KITTNER NEWSEUM The Newseum will continue to host traveling exhibits as it searches for a new location, following the sale of its current building to Johns Hopkins University.

Johns Hopkins already houses several of its graduate-level programs in the District, including the School of Advanced International Studies and the Carey Business School, located on Massachusetts Avenue.

With this purchase, worth $372.5 million, the university plans to consolidate the locations of these programs and deepen students’ connections to national and global events, Johns Hopkins president Ronald Daniels said in a news release.

“We will have an unparalleled opportunity to bring all of our current D.C.-based Johns Hopkins graduate programs together in a single, landmark, state-of-the-art building,” Daniels said. “The renovated building will provide opportunities for every academic division of the university to pursue research and educational activities in Washington.”

The Newseum had been struggling financially in recent years. The Newseum’s parent organization, the Freedom Forum, has given a total of $500 million in the past 20 years to keep to museum running. In 2015, the organization supplied one-third of the Newseum’s operating budget, according to The New York Times. The sale comes after a review of the Freedom Forum’s funding priorities which concluded the Newseum’s operational costs were unsustainable, according to a news release by the Newseum.

The Newseum received around 820,000 visitors in 2017, according to The New York Times. The Newseum, unlike the Smithsonian, charges a $25 entrance fee; however, this revenue still does cover the Newseum’s costs each year.

Part of the Newseum’s financial issues stem from the construction of the building itself. The building, which sold for $372.5 million, was originally constructed for $450 million, according to NPR. As a result of construction costs, the Newseum was still approximately $300 million in debt as of October 2017, according to The New York Times.

Interest rates on this debt spiked in 2016, causing more difficulty for the museum in terms of repayment. There have been four rounds of layoffs of Newseum staff, most recently in January 2017, according to The Washington Post.

Despite the sale of its building, the Newseum is planning to continue educating the public and displaying exhibits, according to CEO and Chair of the Freedom Forum Jan Neuharth.

“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,” Jan Neuharth wrote in a news release.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*