National Postal Museum to Launch Research Web Site

Press Release

The Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum announced the upcoming launch of AragoTM, an innovative new Web site that will allow visitors to access the museum’s extensive collections of stamps and postal history objects from anywhere in the world. The site,, will go live on May 27.

Arago™ is the next generation of the online museum experience,” said Ted Wilson, the museum’s registrar. “By combining the museum’s vast collections database with innovative online storytelling tools, users can browse through thousands of objects while exploring the fascinating history of stamps and the vital role of the post office in our lives.” 

Arago™ was created especially for the study of philately and the history of the postal system. Philately is the collection and study of postage stamps, postmarks and related materials. The National Postal Museum has nearly six million objects in its collection and is home to one of the largest philatelic holdings in the world. The museum also has an extensive collection of postal vehicles, uniforms, mailboxes and other items related to the history and operation of the post office.

Visitors to the Arago™ Web site can view and magnify images of objects from the museum’s collections, as well as significant collections from other organizations, and read detailed descriptions of the objects. The system also will feature online exhibitions, browse and story-telling modes and a search function.

The system is named for 19th century scientist Dominique François Jean Arago, a close friend of James Smithson, the founding benefactor of the Smithsonian Institution. Arago advocated a philosophy of using the most advanced technology available to educate people; his own passion was using photography as a means of sharing information. Now, two centuries later, Arago’s name is again associated with an exciting blend of education and technology.

The first phase of Arago™ will feature more than 6,000 objects. The launch coincides with Washington 2006, a weeklong international philatelic exhibition expected to draw as many as 100,000 stamp collectors to the Washington, D.C. Convention Center. The National Postal Museum booth at the event will have demonstrations of Arago™ as well as kiosks for visitors to try the new program firsthand.

About the National Postal Museum
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

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