The national collection illustrates and invites research into United States philately and postal operations. It contains prestigious postal issues and specialized collections, archival postal documents and three-dimensional objects that trace the evolution of the postal services.
The National Postal Museum is divided into galleries that explore America's postal history from colonial times to the present. Visitors learn how mail has been transported and the wondrous diversity of postage stamps.
The Museum supports a wide variety of interdisciplinary research projects which address topics of importance such as current and future postal operations, as well as philatelic and postal history. Our efforts are a resource and point of reference for research and wider investigation by historians throughout the United States and the world.
Greetings – with this report, we begin a new annual tradition—The Director’s Annual Report—sent to our most loyal supporters to share information about the National Postal Museum (NPM) and to highlight the impact of philanthropy to the Smithsonian Institution while celebrating your generosity.
Over the past year, the National Postal Museum marked two milestones: the 25th anniversary of the Museum and the 5th anniversary of the William H. Gross Stamp Gallery. Both of these milestones represent significant chapters in the Museum’s development. Since opening our doors, NPM has become the permanent home of the most extensive public collection of stamps and philatelic material in the world. During the past 25 years, NPM has evolved into a first-class resource, promoting discovery, scholarship, and research for philatelists and visitors from across the country and around the world for both philately and postal history. This would not be possible without our many generous donors, and in this first annual Director’s report we recognize those donors who have given leadership gifts over the past 25 years and I offer my heartfelt gratitude for your generosity.
As we celebrate these significant milestones
and dream big for the future,
it is important to recognize the community
that has made so much of this possible.
The Museum’s accomplishments in 2018 were many, including a strong increase in attendance with the Museum surpassing 500,000 annual visitors for the first time in its history. This surge in interest is especially positive during a time when many museums are experiencing a steady decline in visitors. One of the primary reasons for this growth is the expansion of our educational programming, which continues to receive positive feedback in both visitor surveys as well as online reviews. From Train Day to Dog Days, and from Story Time to the annual Holiday Card Workshop, we are proud that NPM programming is among the most robust of the Smithsonian Institution museums and that our attendees come from diverse backgrounds of all ages. Another significant reason for NPM’s record- breaking attendance is the timely exhibition Alexander Hamilton: Soldier, Secretary, Icon. With this exhibition, NPM was able to welcome a new generation of visitors by capturing the interest in a trending topic like Hamilton. This model is one we look to continue in the future.
As we look ahead to 2019 and beyond, the NPM team is in the design phase of a new exhibition: Baseball: America’s Home Run. This exhibition will examine the role of baseball in American culture as seen through the lens of American philately and postal history. The popularity of the subject matter will introduce a broad audience to the joys of stamp collecting and presents the opportunity to create an entirely new slate of public programming that is both informative and fun. Of special note, this exhibition is the first NPM exhibition to be presented as bilingual (in English and Spanish), reflecting both the diversity of the sport and the visitors we welcome and serve.
Also in 2019, please make a note to mark your calendars for October 17 – 20, when NPM will join other leaders in the international philatelic community as we celebrate the Royal Philatelic Society London’s 150th Anniversary. The Museum is honored to host the North American celebration, which is also timed in concert with the Smithsonian Philatelic Achievement Award Gala, which will be hosted on October 19. You can stay abreast of upcoming events by visiting our website or following NPM on social media.
Beyond 2019, we are working on plans to digitize more of the Museum’s collection so that NPM’s impact into classrooms and communities can be felt outside of the Washington, DC footprint. Research and scholarship are important components of the Smithsonian’s mission and digitization supports the efforts of so many scholars, teachers, enthusiasts, and hobbyists. And as we begin to dream big for the Museum, you will begin to see and hear more information for plans to renovate the Atrium level of the Museum so that it matches the level of quality of the William H. Gross Stamp Gallery, providing for an enhanced visitor experience.
As we celebrate these significant milestones, it is important to recognize the community that has made so much of this possible. While the Smithsonian is partially supported by Federal funding, the ability to plan new exhibitions, to lead capital improvements, and to respond to items of current interest is dependent almost solely on the generosity of those who are passionate about our mission. For example, the Alexander Hamilton exhibition, which delighted so many new visitors to the Museum, was possible only with the support of donor contributions. And, many of you completed your own milestone of generosity this year by completing pledges to the William H. Gross Stamp Gallery. Our gallery of 2018 donors is listed here.
This year it is important to pause and reflect on what a crowning achievement the William H. Gross Stamp Gallery is at the National Postal Museum - to the Smithsonian and in the philatelic community. The Gallery, planned with an eye for both elegance and the importance of preserving philatelic treasures for future generations, is a place where 7 million visitors have explored the stories that fascinate our philatelic and postal history community, and where children and adults alike have learned about history, geography, and culture through this unique perspective. Every day the next generation of collectors feel a spark of curiosity and a sense of wonder when visiting this beautiful space. To see our digital brochure commemorating this important space, please click here (PDF).
I offer my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who made the William H. Gross Stamp Gallery possible and extend a special “thank you” to those donors who have supported the NPM over the past 25 years at the leadership level. We recognize and thank these leadership donors below. Thank you for supporting our mission and for ensuring that creativity and innovation endures at the National Postal Museum.
Director, Smithsonian National Postal Museum
A special note of gratitude to donors to the Smithsonian National postal Museum who have given at the leadership level.
Greater than $1 million
Estate of Winton M. Blount, Jr.
Ford Motor Company Fund
William H. Gross
Hubert N. (Jay) Hoffman, III
Pitney Bowes, Inc.
$999,999 - $500,000
Estate of Joseph Manfred Ennis
Donald Sundman Family (Mystic Stamp Company)
Jeanette Cantrell Rudy
$499,999 - $250,000
Lockheed Martin Corporation
Rabil & Bates Communication Design
Mr. Alan Ritchey (Alan Ritchey Inc.)
Sennett Security Products
Alan and Sandy Whitman
$249,999 - $100,000
American Postal Workers Union, ALF-CIO
Estate of George W. Brett
Dr. Edward and Joanne Dauer
Hallmark Cards, Inc.
Inter-Governmental Philatelic Corporation
George Jay Kramer
Anna Lee (Phila China Limited)
Estate of Mr. W. Curtis Livingston
National Association of Letter Carriers
National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry
Norfolk Southern Foundation
Northrop Grumman Corporation
David and Christine Sundman
SMITHSONIAN LEGACY SOCIETY
Douglas D. Bradley, M.D.
Mr. Roland Cipolla
Mr. Tim Garner
Mr. Ian C. Gibson-Smith
Mr. Raymond Waite
A special thank you to the United States Postal Service, whose support enables the National Postal Museum
to create exhibitions, conduct scholarly research, and produce exciting public and educational programs.