Capitol Hill families have no shortage of exciting activities and destinations to enjoy, but one place that may not be on your local radar for fun, free family time is the Smithsonian National Postal Museum. Located across the street from Union Station, a transportation hub bringing together the Circulator, DC buses, Metro and a new bike parking area, the Postal Museum brings to life the colorful history of the nation’s mail service through hands-on exhibits and engaging public programs. Families can clamber into a stagecoach used to carry the mail, ‘drive’ a semi-truck and explore a Railway Post Office car as airmail planes hover overhead.
As a new initiative to get to know our neighbors the museum hosted “A Postal Party on the Hill” on October 16 for the local residents. Visitors were welcomed to the museum with a brightly colored goodie bag and wonderful smells of “kid-food” – mac & cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, rootbeer floats, bags of popcorn and special ‘postal punch.’
Set up throughout the museum’s atrium were hands-on activity stations inspired by the new exhibition “Delivering Hope: FDR & Stamps of the Great Depression.” Kids learned about how President Franklin D. Roosevelt designed many U.S. stamps during his presidency and then they were challenged to see if they could out-draw the president. Some of them drew self portraits with hopeful aspirations of one day being on an actual stamp. Others drew their family or favorite sport. Visitors also stopped by “Stamp Charades” where they had to act out a wacky, action-packed stamp from ballerinas to Old Faithful to astronauts.
But the most coveted space was a seat at the stamp collecting station, where thousands of international stamps were spread out for visitors to sift through to begin their own stamp collection. Kids created topical stamp collections featuring animals, favorite colors and other topics. Volunteers helped the participants learn the necessary steps to take care of their newly created album, along with tips on how to continue to collect.
“A Postal Party on the Hill” was deemed a great success by museum staff. They have already decided to make this a semi-annual event and have begun planning the next party for the spring 2010.