Friday, November 21, 2008

A Newseum For Dogs?

First Dogs: American Presidents and Their Pets' Opens at the Newseum


Behind-the-scenes exhibit features, fortunately, no White House "leaks"

WASHINGTON, Nov. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Newseum has opened a new exhibit that takes a playful look at the history of canine companions in the White House. "First Dogs: American Presidents and Their Pets" features photographs and anecdotes about more than two dozen dogs and their owners, from George Washington -- who not only owned, but also bred, dogs -- to President-elect Barack Obama, who famously promised daughters Sasha and Malia that they had "earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House."

"First Dogs" opens with a popular inside-the-beltway quote, "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog," often incorrectly attributed to President Harry S. Truman. The exhibit notes that when Truman received a cocker spaniel puppy, Feller, as a Christmas present in 1947, he promptly gave the dog away to his doctor.

Other presidential pups have fared quite nicely at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., including a pair of Scottish terriers. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Fala had his own press secretary and President George W. Bush's Barney became an Internet sensation with his "Barney-cam" looks at life inside the White House.

President George H.W. Bush's English springer spaniel Millie "wrote" her own book, which became a bestseller and even outsold her owner's book.

Warren G. Harding's Airedale Laddie Boy, however, emerges as top dog among presidential pets. Laddie Boy had his own hand-carved wooden chair at Cabinet meetings. When Harding, a former newspaperman, died in office, newsboys across the country collected pennies to make a copper statue of his beloved pet.

The 40-foot-long Newseum exhibit features 24 photographs or illustrations, including the first presidential pet photograph. President Lincoln's mutt Fido was photographed in Illinois so Lincoln's sons would have a memento, since Fido was not making the trip to the nation's capital for the 1861 inauguration.

Exhibit visitors can vote for their choice of "First Dog" for the Obama family from five hypoallergenic breeds recommended by the American Kennel Club and a shelter dog.

"First Dogs" also includes a behind-the-scenes look at how President Gerald R. Ford dealt with the same issue facing President-elect Obama. Ford's photographer, David Hume Kennerly, was looking for a golden retriever for his boss in 1974 but didn't want to reveal who the owner would be. "Do they own or rent?" the breeder asked. "I guess you could say they live in public housing," Kennerly deadpanned. Ford named the dog Liberty.

"First Dogs" is scheduled to remain on display at the Newseum through March 2009. It is one of several exhibits and programs tied to the 2008 election and 2009 inauguration. The Newseum's display of Nov. 5 newspaper front pages from around the world drew thousands of visitors and international media attention. More than 700 election front pages are accessible via the "Today's Front Pages" section of A commemorative poster featuring more than two dozen of the election front pages is available in the Newseum Store.

In the News Corporation News History Gallery, visitors can see other historic election and inauguration headlines and front pages including:

RECOUNT, St. Petersburg(Florida) Times, Nov. 8, 2000
PRESIDENT ELECT KENNEDY, The Boston Globe, Nov. 5, 1960
DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN, Chicago Daily Tribune, Nov. 3, 1948
ROOSEVELT PROMISES SWIFT ACTION TO MEET NATIONAL CRISIS, Washington Times(Inauguration Day issue), March 4, 1933

Dozens of additional election front pages are featured in the searchable, digital displays of more than one thousand historic front pages in the gallery.

In the Robert H. and Clarice Smith Big Screen Theater, visitors can see "Starting Anew: Inaugural Speeches," an original Newseum production that features highlights from past inauguration day speeches.

The Newseum will be open with special post-inaugural afternoon hours on Tuesday, Jan. 20. The Newseum will open at 3 p.m. and remain open until 10 p.m. Visitors will be able to enjoy highlights from media coverage of the inauguration and parade on the 40-foot-by-22-foot high-definition media screen, participate in inauguration-themed "Be a TV Reporter" interactive stations; and view hundreds of inauguration day newspaper front pages from around the world.

The Newseum, located on historic Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., blends five centuries of news history with up-to-the-second technology and hands-on interactive exhibits. The world's most interactive museum takes visitors behind the scenes of news and instills an appreciation of the importance of a free press and the First Amendment. The Freedom Forum, a nonpartisan foundation dedicated to free press, free speech and free spirit, is the main funder of the Newseum's operations. The Newseum, while independent of any media companies, receives additional support from foundations, media organizations and individuals.

SOURCE Newseum

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