newseum & knight conference center

newseum

There aren’t too many venues in DC that are interesting enough in their own right that they draw people to an event who might not otherwise attend. The Newseum is one such venue. It has the triple threat of DC event spaces: great location, great space, and a fantastic view.

The Newseum itself is a museum for the news.  Jokes about the death of print journalism aside, the museum covers the history of the first amendment, has lots of cool media artifacts on display, has an exhibit on the dangers of covering the news in places that aren’t so free, and several rotating exhibits. It is a truly modern museum, designed for today’s attention spans (lots of interactive components, for example). If you are ever in DC I highly recommend a visit, despite the high price tag (about $22 as I write this).

Even better than visiting the museum, though, is hosting an event there. Depending on the size of your event you have several options, from a museum buy-out or an event in the great hall, to use of the 7th Floor Knight Conference Center, which is what we did for an event last week.

Location

The Newseum is located on Pennsylvania Avenue, not far from the Capitol or the National Mall. The closest metro is the Archives, but it’s not a far walk from Federal Triangle either.

Space

We were interested in hosting an event for about 200 people, so we were interested in the Knight Conference Center on the 7th floor. The conference center has its own entrance around the corner from the main museum entrance. The space consists of several rooms, all connected by doors. There are floor to ceiling windows in each room, and almost every room has access to the terrace.

The lobby, right off the elevator:

newseum knight conference center | amanda jayne events blog

The main room – note the natural light!

newseum knight conference center | amanda jayne events blog

newseum knight conference center | amanda jayne events blog

The view down to the other Newseum galleries:

newseum knight conference center | amanda jayne events blog

The Newseum prides itself in its state of the art technology, which was a bonus for the event we were hosting, as the audio/visual team was able to support the livestream capabilities we needed. The middle room also has a rear screen projector built in, which we used to our advantage for the event.

The view

You have a view of the Capitol from within the conference center, thanks to the windows, but most guests are drawn to the terrace (and might not want to leave). It was a rainy day on our site visit so I don’t have any photos of the terrace, but it can easily accommodate 150 people for a reception. It would be an excellent location for a wedding ceremony as well.

Thanks to all the windows, you have a pretty amazing view even if you can’t use the terrace:

newseum knight conference center | amanda jayne events blog

Rainy terrace:

newseum knight conference center | amanda jayne events blog

Review

The in-house caterer is Wolfgang Puck and the food was very good, albeit not cheap. In fact, nothing is really cheap at the Newseum. They know they have one of the best event spaces in town, plus the great view (which makes it hard to get guests to leave), so they can charge accordingly. And they do a good business – even booking a few months in advance for another event in the fall, it’s hard to find a date since they are already booked up.

The service on-site was good, our event went off without a hitch. They are a bit of an event factory, meaning there isn’t as much personalized attention leading up to your event that you may get at a smaller venue, and they don’t have the same hospitality ethic as a hotel, but we accomplished our goals and we’re already planning on using them again, which we wouldn’t do if they were difficult to work with.

Have you hosted an event here or attended one recently? What did you think?

Top photo credit: Maria Bryk/Newseum

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how to (graciously) end an event

view from Newseum Terrace | credit: Sam Kittner/Newseum

If you had a view like the one above, which is the view of the US Capitol from the Newseum terrace in Washington DC, where I had at an event Tuesday night, you would have a hard time getting your guests to leave, too.

Having to kick guests out of an event at the end of the night is a good problem to have, right? That means that they are probably enjoying themselves and your event (by some metrics) was a success. But it seems to be something that planners have some unease around.  Here are some of my suggestions, but my golden rule is that whichever method you choose, have a smile on your face.

Note: these suggestions are meant to clear guests from a space at the end of an event, not because they are misbehaving, causing trouble, don’t belong, crashing, or any other reason. That’s another topic entirely.

Close the bar

This often works like a charm. Close the bar and the room clears. Although, if you have something that guests may value even more than the bar (such as the view from the Newseum terrace) this may not work.

End the entertainment

If you have a band or a DJ, once they stop playing, it’s a pretty clear sign that the event is over. You can even enlist them to help by announcing the last song of the evening.

Host an after party

If you think your attendees are going to want to keep, ahem, networking beyond the timeframe you are willing to keep paying for drinks, think about hosting an after party at a nearby bar. You can find an additional sponsor to cover the tab or you can have guests be on their own. If you’ve been paying the tab for a few hours, most guests won’t mind paying for one more drink on their own dime.

Have a parting gift

Lure guests to the doors with a parting gift!

Ask politely

If all else fails (and this is what I had to do on Tuesday night), just ask politely. We had closed the bar 40 minutes prior but a sizable group was still going strong on the terrace, taking in the view and the (unseasonably) perfect weather. I went around to each group of guests, apologetic smile on my face, and said, “I’m so sorry to cut the evening short, but we promised the venue we would be out of here by now. Thank you SO much for coming.” Almost all of the guests started meandering toward the door and the few stragglers got a bit of a nudge from me until everyone was gone.

What NOT to do

Personally, I hate flickering the lights – I know it’s standard practice but I hate it. It just seems to passive aggressive to me!

I hate shouting announcements. Making a goodbye announcement into a microphone isn’t a bad idea, but if you don’t have a mic, don’t shout!

I also hate having the venue and vendors start taking everything down while guests are still in the space. I know this is often unavoidable, but I try to always overestimate how long my event will run. I’d rather end early and have the staff be able to go home early, than keep them waiting because of a bunch of slowpokes. Things worked out well at the Newseum because everyone who was left was on the terrace and the Newseum staff was able to break down the meeting rooms while we were outside.

Do you have any suggestions of your own? Please share!

Photo via the Newseum and Knight Conference Center. Credit: Sam Kittner/Newseum.