Hand-held Computer Guides Offer New View of Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum

Press Release

Visitors to the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum have a new way of exploring the museum. Hand-held computers, similar to Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs), enhance the visitor’s experience through interactive features, bonus information and audio and video components that complement the museum’s exhibitions.

The National Postal Museum’s Personal Digital Assistants are made possible by Ford Motor Company Fund, which also supported the creation of the Ford Education Center.

The guides were designed to meet the needs of multiple audiences and offer a wide variety of options for National Postal Museum visitors. One activity with particular appeal for younger visitors is an “I Spy” game played in “Mail on the Move,” the museum’s transportation gallery. Audio features and on-screen, large-format text augment the experiences of visually or hearing impaired visitors.

“These guides provide learning experiences for all our visitors including families with small children as well as visitors with disabilities,” said Esther Washington, the museum’s head of education.

Visitors to the National Postal Museum can check out the hand-held guides free of charge in the museum’s atrium between 10 a.m. and 4:45 p.m.

The hand-held guides are the latest addition to the Ford Education Center at the National Postal Museum. The center, which opened in the fall of 2003, also allows visitors to instantly access images from the museum’s vaults, access curatorial information, conduct searches and locate stamps on exhibition.

Ford Motor Co.’s support of the National Postal Museum is part of the company’s longstanding commitment to education and the arts. Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, supports programs that enhance and enrich the communities where Ford Motor Company does business. Ford Motor Company Fund is committed to creating educational opportunities that stimulate creativity and promote cultural diversity. In 2003, Ford Motor Company Fund contributed nearly $40 million to educational initiatives and more than $10 million to cultural programs and initiatives from university scholarships and programs geared towards school children to nationally touring exhibitions touring exhibitions and performing arts events. For more information on programs funded by Ford, visit www.ford.com.

The National Postal Museum is devoted to presenting the colorful and engaging history of the nation’s mail service and showcasing the largest and most comprehensive collection of stamps and philatelic material in the world. It is located at 2 Massachusetts Ave. N.E., in the Old City Post Office Building across from Union Station. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For more information visit the museum’s Web site at postalmuseum.si.edu.

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