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Past Exhibits

The exhibits listed below are no longer available for viewing in the museum.

Capital Traction Company trolley car
This U.S. mail streetcar, owned and operated by the Capital Traction Company, was used to process and transport mail in Washington, D.C.

Mail Trolleys

May 19, 2017 – September 10, 2017
In 1892 St. Louis, Missouri added specially-outfitted cars to their trolleys. The service sped up mail deliveries across the city and onto trains headed out of town. By 1908 there were mail trolleys in Brooklyn, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Rochester, Pittsburgh, Seattle and Cleveland. While the trolleys were a great success, their life span was relatively short. Technological advances – underground pneumatic tubes and trucks would make the mail trolleys obsolete. Most cities had stopped using them by 1919. Baltimore’s mail trolleys held on until 1929, finally succumbing to trucks that could carry more mail and move freely through city streets.

Statue of Liberty stamp art

New York City: A Portrait Through Stamp Art

December 10, 2015 – May 14, 2017
This exhibition of original artwork explored the diversity of topics highlighting the cultural heritage of New York City. The exhibition provided an opportunity to raise awareness of the Postmaster General’s Collection which the museum acquired through a long-term agreement with the United States Postal Service. Thirty pieces of original artwork divided into six categories of stamp art relevant to the city’s heritage were displayed. These categories—Baseball, Broadway, City Life, Icons, Politics and Government, and Music—depicted a variety of art styles and mediums used to create some of America’s most beautiful stamps. The artwork celebrate important citizens, events and iconic buildings that have defined New York City as one of the greatest cities in the world.

1635 proclamation
1635 proclamation for the fetling of the letter. (Courtesy Alan Holyoake)

From Royal Mail to Public Post

October 21, 2016 – January 16, 2017
The United Kingdom’s postal service, Royal Mail, observed its 500th anniversary in 2016. To mark the occasion, the National Postal Museum presented a temporary display of original documents from 1635 and 1840, pivotal years in the expansion and evolution of the country’s postal network. These important documents chronicling postal reform in the United Kingdom were on loan from a private collection. In 1516, King Henry VIII knighted a government clerk named Brian Tuke and gave him the title Governor of the King’s Posts. Sir Brian developed a system of post roads connecting London with the four corners of England. This was a closed system, available only to the king and high-ranking public officials. Its postmen were royal messengers who carried official writs, summonses and orders for the government. Over the next three centuries, however, a series of reforms gradually opened the Royal Mail to public use.

Martin Luther King Jr. 'I Have a Dream' approved stamp art

February 12, 2015 — February 15, 2016
A chronicle of the African American experience told from the perspective of stamps and mail. Includes letters carried by enslaved Americans, mail to and from famous leaders of the civil rights movement, and a significant selection of original artwork for the USPS Black Heritage stamp series from the Postmaster General’s Collection.

Alphabetilately logo


September 26, 2008 — October 12, 2015
This exhibit presented an alphabet of philately through 26 topics, in which each letter represented some aspect of stamp collecting or the sending of mail.

exhibit logo

March 6, 2014 — January 4, 2015
This exhibit looked at the relationship of the two countries through the study of stamps and mail. The sections about commerce and culture focus on the decades between 1860 and 1980, including very rare proofs of stamps from the China Bureau of Engraving and Printing (1912-1928). The section on community tells the story of Chinese Americans from the Gold Rush to today’s celebration of Lunar New Year.

Postal Inspector badge

February 7, 2007 — April 8, 2014
Today about 2,000 postal inspectors are at work across the United States investigating crimes against the mail. Learn more about the inspectors and their job in this exhibit.

Fire & Ice logo

March 22, 2012 — January 6, 2014
As the largest, fastest, and most glamorous ships of their eras, Hindenburg and Titanic share many similarities. As anniversaries of the disasters are marked in 2012—seventy-five years since Hindenburg burned and a century since Titanic sank—many questions remain unanswered. Original objects include mail, postcards, menus, photographs, keys from the Titanic post office, and the salvaged postmark device from the Hindenburg.

Favorite Finds logo

September 22, 2013 — January 5, 2014
“Favorite Finds” brings together an assortment of philatelic articles shared by our Council of Philatelists, philatelic curators, and museum supporters. Each object comes from a different collection and has a different story. Our donors have graciously shared their reasons for holding these items so dear.

Owney the Postal Dog in orange with a 43c Owney stamp

Art of the Stamp: Owney the Postal Dog

July 20, 2011 — August 5, 2012
Art of the Stamp: Owney the Postal Dog featured Bill Bonds’s original painting of Owney that was produced for the stamp. It was accompanied by 6 sketches illustrating various poses of Owney that Mr. Bonds created as he developed his final portrait. In addition, 5 tags that were given to Owney on his many travels and selected by Bonds as background for his stamp art, were also included.

Collecting History text

August 8, 2010 – January 9, 2012
The National Philatelic Collection celebrates its 125th anniversary in 2011, making it the oldest intact national stamp collection in the world. Collecting History invites you to learn about the history of this national treasure and reflect on what the material within it can teach us about world cultures and the American experience.

color image of an African American male baseball pitcher

Negro Leagues Baseball Stamp Exhibit

October 20, 2010 — July 10, 2011
On view was original art produced by Kadir Nelson for the creation of the Negro Leagues Baseball stamps, which pay tribute to the all-black professional baseball leagues that operated from 1920 to approximately 1960.

red 2c Abraham Lincoln stamp

Abraham Lincoln Certified Plate Proofs

November 15, 2008 — October 2013
Eleven certified plate proofs for postage stamps honoring Abraham Lincoln were on view in the Philatelic Gallery pullout frames. Certified plate proofs are the last printed proof of the plate before printing the stamps. These plate proofs are each unique, with the approval signatures and date. Issued from 1894 to 1959, the stamps feature a variety of Lincoln portraits.

stylized illustration of a WWII soldier in green in front of a red and white striped background

March 6, 2008 — July 6, 2011
The Victory Mail exhibit showcased the Museum’s collection of World War II V-Mail correspondence. V for Victory, a popular symbol of the Second World War, was the inspiration for the name of this new fangled correspondence style.

red 8c Amelia Earhart stamp

Amelia Earhart's Personal Collection

November 12, 2007 — September 21, 2013
Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, was an avid stamp and cover collector. On view were key pieces from her collection, including photographs and stamps commemorating her flights. She often flew signed pieces of mail that were then sold to philatelists to support her endeavors.

color cartoon of three women writing letters

The Art of Cards and Letters

July 30, 1993 — June 6, 2011
This gallery emphasized the art of letter writing, a cherished art form providing a window into American history.

Delivering Hope text and a cartoon of FDR wearing glasses and smiling

September 9, 2009 — June 6, 2010
Franklin D. Roosevelt, president during the Great Depression, used stamps to communicate with the American people.

black and white photo of a man sitting at a desk

Rarity Revealed: The Benjamin K. Miller Collection

May 27, 2006 — January 12, 2009
Called the “crown jewels” of U.S. stamp collecting, Miller's collection was donated to the New York Public Library in 1925 where it was displayed for more than 50 years. But after a theft in 1977, the collection was locked away until the National Postal Museum exhibit.

black and white photo of a man on a horse

December 14, 2006 — January 31, 2008
As hostilities between the colonists and the Crown grew, many people began protesting high postage rates by sending their letters "out of the mails."

Trailblazers & Trendsetters: Art of the Stamp logo

November 16, 2006 — August 17, 2008
This exhibit presented works of art commissioned by the US Postal Service over the last 40 years. These paintings and drawings represent the work of 42 different artists and showcase an array of techniques and styles.

a soldier sitting and reading a letter

November 11, 2005 — November 13, 2006
War Letters: Lost and Found featured original letters from the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam that were lost or abandoned and then rediscovered by strangers.

John Lennon: The Lost Album text in front of a black and green depiction of Lennon

October 6, 2005 — April 10, 2006
Before Lennon traveled the globe playing music with The Beatles, this boy from Liverpool, England saw the world in a whole different way−through stamps.

a white plane on a blue scallop-edged background

March 15, 2005 — March 19, 2006
This exhibit revealed highlights from the wide-ranging Postmaster General's Collection spanning more than 150 years of US stamp-making, including not only stamps, but "behind-the-scenes" materials.

photo of a duck and duckling

Artistic License: The Duck Stamp Story

July 2004 — July 10, 2006
This exhibition explored the history of rare and collectible Federal Duck Stamps created as a result of this extraordinary conservation program.

color illustration of a young Queen Elizabeth II

The Kristen Ollies Collection

April 15, 2004 — January 11, 2005
Kristen Ollies started her collection in 1999, when she was in fifth grade. Her collection has grown to an award-winning private collection of 48 album pages.

The Queen's Own logo

April 6, 2004 — January 11, 2005
The National Postal Museum is pleased to present a selection of extraordinary materials from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's personal philatelic holdings. The Royal Philatelic Collection includes the world's finest and most comprehensive collection of British and Commonwealth stamps.

Sep 11 2001 New York NY Church St Sta 10007 stamp

October 8, 2003 — January 2, 2007
This exhibition surveyed the dangers faced by the nation's postal workers, honors their individual acts of heroism, and celebrates the U.S. Postal Service's involvement in a program that distributes pictures of missing children to tens of millions of homes each week.

29c Elvis stamp

July 30, 2003 — February 26, 2004
On view were 100 original drawings and artworks that were used to create postage stamps, including entries for the famous Elvis stamp design competition.

grainy black and white photo of a man with letters

Forwarding Address Required

May 4, 2001 — October 17, 2005
Through the cards and letters exchanged between Japanese-American children sent away to internment camps during World War II and San Diego librarian Miss Clara Breed, the exhibition looked at the role of the mail as a civil liberty and witness to history. Miss Breed had grown fond of the children who had visited the library before the war and began corresponding with them in 1942, when she first gave each a stamped, addressed postcard. Correspondence continued throughout the war and until her death in 1994.

illustration of the Titanic

Posted Aboard RMS Titanic

April 14, 2001 — October 30, 2001
The tragic sinking of the RMS Titanic has captivated our imaginations for decades. Among those who lost their lives when the ship sank were the ship's five postal clerks.

colorful illustration of an African American man in front of the US flag

April 1, 2001 — January 25, 2002
This exhibition featured one of baseball's great icons — Roberto Clemente Walker (1938-1972), who was honored on two U.S. postage stamps.

Roberto Clemente Walker: The Great One (en español)
1 de abril 2001 — 25 de enero 2002
Esta exposición contó con uno de los grandes iconos del béisbol - Roberto Clemente Walker (1938 a 1972), quien fue honrado en dos sellos de los EEUU.

black and white photo of many people on a street

September 30, 1998 — September 30, 2002
As Precious as Gold, continues in an online format. The exhibit examined the great Klondike Gold Rush and the unforgettable role of the mail carrier in providing contact between those so far from home and the families they left behind.

photo of FDR examining his stamp collection

January 30, 1998 — July 2, 1998
President Franklin D. Roosevelt enjoyed a lifelong interest in collecting stamps. FDR sketched the original designs for several United States stamps issued during his time in office.