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The Unabomber Hates the Newseum Also

3:38 PM, Aug 13, 2008 • By JAIME SNEIDER
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Ted Kaczynski's cabin is on display now at the Newseum in Washington, DC, and he's none too pleased about it. Apparently an ad for the Unabomber exhibit found its way into his "supermax" federal prison in Colorado. He has sent a three page handwritten complaint to a U.S. Court of Appeals requesting relief -- on behalf of his victims and their families.

Kaczynski explains how he came upon the news: "I recently received a page from the Washington Post, June 19, 2008, page A9. This compromises a full-page, full-color advertisement that features my cabin, which is being exhibited publicly at something called a 'Newseum.'" He goes on to say that he's troubled that his victims must endure further publicity of his crimes, as they have objected in the past to the publication of his writings.

Although I question Kaczynski's sincerity, I do share his dismay with the Newseum. Andrew Ferguson had the definitive take-down in the WEEKLY STANDARD.

The ostentatious display of the First Amendment, as though it were a structural element of the building itself, is in keeping with the museum's theme: the subtle conflation of the American news business with the constitutional principle of a free press, as though the one were the inevitable, precious fruit of the other. The theme is hammered home inside the museum, too, though it sometimes gets lost in the conventions of modern museum design. "We wanted the most interactive museum in the world," Overby said, "the most technologically advanced museum in the world. We wanted more flat screens than anyone. In attracting people here to learn about a free press, we wanted to give the visitors a 'Wow' experience." The price of admission is $13 for children, $20 for adults. Wow.

The wow experience has now become mandatory in the design of modern museums. A museum visitor no longer just visits a museum and sees stuff: He is given a visitor experience--a sequence of sensations that can be packaged, advertised, and controlled by the curators. If the visitor experience is interactive, that's terrific; if it's immersive--well, you're going to have one wowed visitor on your hands. For the great enemy of the museum designer today is not ignorance but boredom.

So I guess the question is does the "hands on" experience of the Newseum allow visitors to handle the contents of Kaczynski's cabin? Do recall among his only possessions was an underlined copy of Al Gore's Earth in the Balance.