Construction delays will force journalism history buffs to wait a few more months to visit the Newseum, a museum dedicated to news reporting and the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution being built near the domed Capitol building.
The First Amendment guarantees freedom of the press.
The opening for the $435 million project has been pushed back to early 2008, museum officials confirmed Wednesday. The Newseum previously had announced an Oct. 15 opening.
A new date has not been set while officials work to clarify how much time it will take to complete construction, install artifacts and test an electronics system that will support the Newseum’s interactive exhibits, theaters and broadcast studios.
“We are aiming for a formal opening in the first quarter of next year,” said Charles L. Overby, the museum’s chief executive officer. “We think they will be done by the end of November. Yet, having been burned once, we are holding up on setting a grand opening.”
General contractor Turner Construction attributes the delay to the complexity of the 643,000-square-foot building. It has seven levels with space for the museum as well as luxury apartments and a restaurant by chef Wolfgang Puck.
“We always knew it was going to be challenging,” said William M. Brennan, Turner’s executive vice president. “The museum folks are journalists and are not used to building buildings every day. They are fine-tuning the physical product to get exactly what they want.”
Brennan said his company would be “out of there by mid-September.”
Once major construction is complete, Overby said the Newseum needs time to test and calibrate its equipment. The museum will have 130 interactive touch screens to give visitors a chance to grapple with journalistic ethics and news decisions, 14 galleries, 15 theaters and two broadcast studios.