First Major Newseum Exhibit to Focus on FBI

By: Joe Strupp

The Newseum’s first major changing exhibit will focus on some of the biggest cases — and dramatic evidence — from the FBI’s first 100 years, the journalism museum has announced. Exhibits will range from the Unabomber’s cabin to the electric chair in which convicted Lindbergh baby kidnapper Bruno Richard Hauptmann was executed.

“G-Men and Journalists: Top News Stories of the FBI’s First Century” opens Friday, June 20, according to a release. “With themes and artifacts drawn from FBI case files and the nation’s front pages, the exhibition explores the role of the media in shaping the bureau’s image and the sometimes cooperative, sometimes combative relationship between the press and the FBI,” the release stated.

The exhibition will be on display through June 2009, and feature some 200 artifacts drawn from the FBI evidence vaults and the collections of
other museums, reporters, law-enforcement professionals, private collectors, and the Newseum.

“The largest artifact is the 10-by-12-foot cabin where Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski lived — and was arrested — in rural Montana,” the release stated. “Among the smallest is a hollow nickel that held a coded message and was linked to the arrest of Soviet spy Rudolf Abel.”

The exhibit also includes nearly 300 photographs and dozens of historic newspaper front pages and magazines from the Newseum collection.

“The exhibit introduction explains how the press was crucial to the creation of the FBI’s carefully crafted image of trained agents using scientific methods to stamp out crime,” Newseum officials stated. “The FBI needed public support, and the press helped them get it. In turn, the news media used sensational crime stories to stoke sales.”

“Before the FBI building tour closed to the public after 9/11, it was one of the most popular attractions in Washington,” Newseum Executive Director Joe Urschel said in a statement. “We want to share these amazing artifacts from the FBI evidence vault with the public in an exhibit that looks at the complicated relationship between the FBI and the media.”

More information can be found here.

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