The Newseum, a big and shiny monument to journalism in Washington, D.C. is exploring the sale of its building or a move to another location as losses continue to mount after nearly 10 years on Pennsylvania Avenue.
According to The Washington Post, Newseum management confirmed that it is in talks with international firm Eastdil Secured about selling the 470,000 square foot building, which contains dozens of pricey apartments and a Wolfgang Puck restaurant in addition to housing the museum. The building was last assessed at $667 million in 2014.
Despite all the glitz of the Newseum, it has struggled financially since its inception in 1997 as it charges one of the highest admission fees — roughly $25 — in a city overflowing with free museums. Tax records for 2016 show the Newseum lost $8.2 million. Continued losses coupled with the nearly $300 million debt burden of its main benefactor, The Freedom Forum has forced the museum to look for ways to balance its books.
The Newseum’s financial ills have resulted from mismanagement by a series of chief executives and the mistaken belief that tourists would pay stiff admission fees.
Chief Operating Officer Scott Williams told the Post that despite financial challenges, the Newseum will not close.
“The Newseum is one of the tools the Freedom Forum uses to champion the First Amendment and the freedom of the press,” Williams said. “They have no intention of it going away … The Newseum will continue.”