Things to Do

After Pharrell’s Hat, What Should the Newseum Display Next?

Other memes the museum should turn into exhibits.
Pharrell's phamous hat. Photograph by Benjamin Freed.

After a successful run from an exhibit full of props from Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, the Newseum is going back to the pop-culture well this week with the unveiling of the oversize hat that turned into a brief social-media trend thanks to Pharrell Williams sporting it at the Grammy Awards in January.

The Vivienne Westwood-designed headpiece was applauded Thursday night at a preview party—yes, a preview party for a hat—in the Newseum’s lobby, where the item will welcome visitors for the next two months. (Obviously, Williams’s frustratingly popular song “Happy” plays on a continuous loop in the accompanying video.)

How does the hat play into the Newsuem’s larger mission of, as the museum’s chief executive, Jim Duff, put it last night, “celebrating free expression”? We’re not totally sure. But in between nibbles of snacks provided by Arby’s, the exhibit’s sponsor (and donor, after buying the hat at auction), we thought of other exhibits the financially struggling Newseum could open next.

Great YOLO Moments in Journalism

From William Randolph Hearst’s Spanish-American War profiteering to Matt Lauer’s star turn in Sharknado 2: The Second One, a brief history of times people have thrown professional caution to the wind and said, “Heck, you only live once.”

Turn Down for What: A History of Radio News

Who wants to look at a bunch of lifeless plaques about David Sarnoff, Eric Sevareid, and Edward Murrow or listen to a bunch of static-filled tapes? Just install a #TDFW button next to every radio-related item in the building and watch the money roll in.

Kim and Kanye on the Cover of Vogue

In an age of “explanatory journalism,” show the kids how the #worldsmosttalkedaboutcouple explains more about celebrity, image management, and socioeconomic dynamics than Vox or the Upshot ever could.

#IceBucketChallenge Dunk Tank

Why make your own shaky Vine or Facebook video when you can buy professional-quality footage of yourself getting completely soaked? Souvenir towels available for $35 in the lobby, and proceeds go to the ALS Association (assuming the Newseum’s operating budget doesn’t need it more).

Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed

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Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.