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Hopkins buys Newseum building to consolidate DC operations

The Newseum building in Washington. (Maria Bryk/Newseum)

The Newseum building in Washington. (Maria Bryk/Newseum)

Johns Hopkins University plans to purchase the Newseum building in Washington to consolidate the university’s operations in the city.

Hopkins will purchase the building on Pennsylvania Avenue from the Freedom Forum for $372.5 million, pending regulatory approval. The transaction was approved by the university’s trustees Thursday.

The university will renovate the building to meet its needs, which include housing the some 3,300 students and faculty working and learning in Washington. That includes the School of Advanced International Studies, the business school, the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Nursing.

“Over the last several years, we have been considering a number of different options designed to bolster and modernize our presence in D.C.,” Ron Daniels, the university’s president, wrote to the university and Johns Hopkins Health System. “Further, we had hoped to secure additional faculty offices and research spaces, modern spaces for students, and a range of differently sized venues for public convening.”

Renovating the museum will take considerable work and time, as it was built for that purpose.

The university also hopes to use the building’s proximity to the Capitol to better inform decision-makers.

“Anchored by the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins’ expanded presence in Washington, D.C., will increase our capacity to convene and inform decision-makers, contribute to national and international policy development and forge exciting new connections to our home city of Baltimore,” the university said in a statement. “This acquisition offers an extraordinary opportunity to fuel the exchange of ideas and broaden the real-world impact of the research and study that emanates from our flagship campus in Baltimore. It will also yield significant benefits for our students and faculty in Washington, allowing for better-designed classroom, event and community spaces and improved services and amenities, in a vibrant Washington neighborhood.”

Meanwhile, the Newseum will remain open through the end of the year, Freedom Forum, the museum’s creator and funder, said.

“This was a difficult decision, but it was the responsible one,” Jan Neuharth, chair and CEO of the Freedom Forum, said in a statement. “We remain committed to continuing our programs – in a financially sustainable way – to champion the five freedoms of the First Amendment and to increase public awareness about the importance of a free and fair press. With today’s announcement, we can begin to explore all options to find a new home in the Washington, DC area.”

The museum originally opened in 2008.

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