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Johns Hopkins University buys Newseum building to consolidate D.C. presence

• Baltimore Sun

Johns Hopkins University is acquiring the building that houses the Newseum in Washington, D.C., where it plans to consolidate its presence in the nation's capital, provide more opportunities for students and better inform policymakers, officials announced Friday.

Hopkins is buying the building at 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW for $372.5 million under an agreement with the Freedom Forum, which owns the Newseum. The university aims to broaden the practical impacts of its research and position itself to influence national and international decision-making from its new home.

The sale will bring about the eventual closure of the Newseum at its current location. Dedicated to increasing public understanding of the role of the free press, the decade-old museum has struggled to stay afloat financially. It will remain open through the end of the year, the Freedom Forum said in a statement.

Acquiring the Newseum building will allow Hopkins to consolidate its D.C. operations — currently spread across four buildings on Massachusetts Avenue — into a one space. "Hopkins D.C." will be anchored by the university's School of Advanced International Studies. The district is also home to Hopkins programs including graduate courses in applied economics, government analytics, communication and global security, as well as support services for students.

Hopkins President Ronald J. Daniels said Hopkins had been looking for several years for a single facility to house its D.C. operations.

Artifacts from the Newseum Support Center in North Laurel

(Photos by Nate Pesce)

"We have wanted to bring all of our activities together into one facility and also have increasingly wanted to be able to bring some of our programs and research activities that are currently in Baltimore and elsewhere to Washington," Daniels said. "We are hoping that with this new facility we'll be able to offer more opportunities for undergraduates to do, for instance, internships and policy-related seminars and other activities in Washington. This becomes a wonderful portal for us to bring undergraduate and graduate students who are currently in Baltimore to Washington for relatively discrete periods of time."

While Hopkins officials say no programs currently housed in Baltimore are slated to relocate to D.C., the new building will provide a forum for new events, internships and other programming. Daniels pointed to Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health and its forthcoming Agora Institute, a center dedicated to addressing the challenges of divisive issues in liberal democracies, as examples of Baltimore-based programs that would benefit from the new D.C. location.