August 24, 2011
The Daily Progress, published in Charlottesville, Va.

The Daily Progress, published in Charlottesville, Va.

Earthquake the Top Story at Newseum

WASHINGTON — The rare earthquake near Mineral, Va., that jolted much of the East Coast Aug. 23 was Page One news Wednesday morning in dailies across the country.

"5.8 Quake Rattles East Coast Nerves," proclaimed The Tribune of San Luis Obispo, Calif.

"Double whammy," declared The Denver Post, referring to the afternoon earthquake in the East and the nighttime earthquake in Colorado.

Temblors along the East Coast were felt as far north as Maine and as far south as Georgia, forcing the evacuation and closure of many federal offices and national landmarks.

The Newseum, which closed early for safety precautions, reopened later in the day for a scheduled evening event.

"Visitor safety is always our foremost priority," said Lawton Samuels, visitor services manager at the Newseum. "The decision not to resume business after the earthquake enabled us to properly assess the building for structural damage and other impairments. This morning, the Newseum opened at its normal time, fully functional."

People who were touring local museums when the earthquake hit shared their stories on the Newseum's Facebook page.

"We were standing in the 9/11 exhibit of the Newseum looking at the recovered part of the Twin Towers. We had just finished watching the movie on 9/11," said Stephanie Togni. "Our first thought was terrorism."

"I was at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History on the second floor, and the entire building was shaking," said Alice Giraud. "We all walked, some ran out of the building. It was scary."

Newseum exhibits and artifacts were unharmed.

"All is well with the artifacts and exhibits throughout the Newseum," said Carrie Christoffersen, curator of collections. "We lost a few hours of work, but the current [FBI "War on Terror"] installation is still going well. We expect the exhibit to remain completely on schedule."

The Smithsonian and other area museums are open Aug. 24, as well as the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials.

The 555-foot-tall Washington Monument will remain closed while the National Park Service evaluates a crack that was found near the top of the national landmark.

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