January 27, 2007

(Newseum)

Construction Update

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Constitution has been the keystone of freedom and democracy for the United States and the rest of the world for more than 200 years.

Now, installation is nearly finished on the 74-foot-high marble tablet of the Constitution's First Amendment on the front façade of the Newseum, facing Pennsylvania Avenue. Installation began in November. When completed, the tablet will be the Newseum's defining architectural feature and a First Amendment landmark.

Like pieces of a giant puzzle, the tablet consists of 264 sections with 12-inch letters and characters that spell out all 45 words of the First Amendment. It was carved in October by workers at Rugo Stone in Lorton, Va., from 50 tons of royal pink marble quarried in Tennessee. The final section is expected to be in place by February.

Inside, work continues on exhibit fabrication and interior construction of the First Amendment Gallery. The 1,700-square-foot gallery focuses on the five freedoms - religion, speech, press, assembly and petition - that make up the First Amendment and are etched on the tablet outside the building.

When the Newseum opens at Pennsylvania Avenue and Sixth Street, N.W., 70,000 square feet of exhibit space will feature 14 main exhibition galleries. In addition to the First Amendment, the galleries will explore news history, electronic news, photojournalism, world news and how the media have covered major historical events.

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