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.

Search the Virtual Vault

The National Postal Museum is moving forward with a complete re-design of the Virtual Vault collection search feature. When completed, the website will be mobile-optimized and more user-friendly. Please bear with us as we work to provide our users and visitors with an improved online collection search experience.

Collection History

Learn about the national philatelic and postal operations collection.

Collection Plan

Despite our large, existing collection, the National Postal Museum has an extensive collection plan.

Collection Projects

Collection Management staff, volunteers and interns work to document, research and protect the museum's collection objects. Here is your chance to see what museum professionals are up to. Return periodically to learn about new projects.

Object Donations

As the Museum continues to build the national collection, quality, historical value and research potential are key factors in the acquisition of new objects.

Object Loans

The Museum loans its collection objects to a wide range of qualified, non-profit educational institutions as part of its commitment to reach a wider public audience through exhibition in national and international venues.

Object Spotlight

Objects are the core of a museum’s reason for being. They connect us with people and stories of days gone by, allowing us to better understand our past and even use that knowledge to reflect on our present.

Digital Asset Collections

As the Smithsonian acquired its philatelic and postal operations collections, it also acquired original images and photo-reproductions. The material, which was assembled to support research, publications and exhibits, is available for public use.


The Preservation Department focuses on the preservation, rehousing, conservation and exhibit preparation of the National Postal Museum’s collection and loan objects. They work with both philately and postal operation objects ranging in sizes from a postage stamp to a train car.

Additional Learning

Topical Reference Pages

Browse these pages to discover resources organized by topic.