Johns Hopkins buying Newseum building in DC for $372 million

BALTIMORE (AP) — The founder and main funder of the Newseum, a Washington museum devoted to journalism and the First Amendment, has reached a deal to sell its sleek steel-and-glass building on a prime stretch of real estate in the nation’s capital.

In a Friday announcement, the Freedom Forum said Johns Hopkins University will buy its museum building on Pennsylvania Avenue between Congress and the White House for $372.5 million. The deal still needs to be approved by regulators and the Newseum will remain open to the public through the end of the year.

Jan Neuharth, chairwoman and CEO of the Freedom Forum, the Newseum’s creator and primary funder, said the group is committed to continuing the museum’s programs.

It’s not clear what might eventually happen with the Newseum’s exhibits after the deal is authorized, but the Freedom Forum says it is looking at “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.”

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Johns Hopkins, a Baltimore-based academic institution known for its medical center and university, intends to use the property as a consolidated center for its Washington-based programs, anchored by its School of Advanced International Studies.

“Acquiring this iconic property in the heart of the nation’s capital will represent a transformative moment for Johns Hopkins University and place our research and expertise in the midst of national and global decision-making,” the university said in a statement.

The Freedom Forum’s decision to sell the property came at the end of a 16-month strategic review, including an examination of the struggling museum’s “unsustainable” operating costs.

“This was a difficult decision, but it was the responsible one,” Neuwarth said.

The Newseum, steps away from the National Mall, opened in 2008 with 15 theaters, 14 major galleries, two TV studios and newspaper front pages updated each day from every state and several countries.

A previous incarnation of the Newseum was based in Arlington, Virginia, and closed in 2002.

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