Inside the New York Times: “A Museum Above the Newsroom”

From a Times Insider column by Emmett Lindner headlined “A Museum Above the Newsroom”:

On the 15th floor of The New York Times Building, near a newspaper that traveled close to 1.8 million miles aboard the space shuttle Columbia, is a slab of metal shaped as the letter “S.” It is a piece from the “zipper,” a belt of 14,800 bulbs that The New York Times operated to send news bulletins around Times Square, beginning in 1928.

“The Times has always, even the pre-Ochs ownership, done unorthodox things to get the word out to more people,” David W. Dunlap, a former Times reporter, said.

Mr. Dunlap was speaking inside the Museum at The Times, an exhibition that opened last month above the heart of the newsroom in New York. Dating to the newspaper’s earliest days, the collection of artifacts showcases The Times’s mission, focus, missteps and achievements over the past 170 years.

Times artifacts were previously on display at the Timeseum, a collection without as much cohesion….“We developed a couple of themes having to do with innovation, excellence, fearlessness and independence,” he said.

The museum was a collaboration of Mr. Dunlap; Kelly Doe, the director of brand identity for The Times; Raoul Anchondo, a staff editor; Jeff Roth, a Times archivist; and many others who developed the curation from concept to execution….

Based on a digital inventory, Mr. Anchondo made layouts of the museum that he and the team tinkered with before beginning to physically mount the objects in the fall of 2020. The assemblage follows a loose chronology.

Near the entrance sits the desk of Henry J. Raymond, who helped found The Times in 1851, and a Swiss grandfather clock that belonged to Adolph Ochs, who bought The Times in 1896 and whose descendants have published the paper ever since. Among the early artifacts is a series of notes Ochs wrote in a hotel room, outlining his credo for the institution: “To give the news impartially, without fear or favor, regardless of party, sect or interest involved.”

In the center of the room, an island tower holds, among other items, notes from the Pentagon Papers and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s signature in a 1965 guest book. There is also a 1970 edition of Umesika, a publication put out by the Afro-American Employees Association of The New York Times, which sought to “promote unity among Black employees at The Times with the ultimate aim of obtaining Black recruitment.”

The other side of the island brings the visitor closer to modern times, beginning with artifacts from the Sept. 11 attacks. Beneath windows that overlook the corner of 40th Street and Eighth Avenue far below, three glass cases hold more contemporary reporting, including on the coronavirus pandemic, Black Lives Matter protests and the Jan. 6 Capitol riot…

Among the youngest artifacts on display is a printed version of a WhatsApp exchange between the photographer Ashley Gilbertsonand his editor during the Capitol riot.

“West side of capitol building is where the action is,” the editor messages.

“En route,” Mr. Gilbertson replies.

Although the space, which is inside the Times Building, is open only for employees, Mr. Dunlap said the team wanted to share it with the public, perhaps virtually. For now, he said, he hopes the museum conveys to employees that they work within a clarity of purpose that has been shaped for 170 years.

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