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.
The exhibits listed below are no longer available for viewing in the museum.
John Lennon: The Green Album
September 7, 2018 — September 2, 2019
John Lennon’s boyhood stamp album—including 565 stamps on more than 150 pages was on display at the National Postal Museum. The exhibition coincided with the U.S. Postal Service’s issuance of the John Lennon Forever stamp, honoring the legendary singer and songwriter. The stamp is part of the USPS’ Music Icons series. The exhibition featured previous USPS-issued stamps that are part of the Postal Service’s Music Icon Series.
May 15, 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the world’s first regularly scheduled airmail service. President Wilson was on hand in Washington, DC to watch the historic take off. At first the service only operated between Washington, Philadelphia and New York. By 1920, airmail raced from New York to San Francisco. It was dangerous work. More than 30 pilots died doing their best to fly the mail. Americans recognized the bravery of these Postmen of the Skies, treating them as heroes. In 1927 the Post Office handed off the last of its routes to private contractors, paving the way for what became the nation’s commercial aviation system.
This exhibition highlighted the variety of flowering plants commemorated on US postage stamps during the past 50 years and explores artistic themes that emerged during this period. For example, the artwork portrays a variety of flowering plants found in gardens and public spaces throughout the United States and explore the symbiotic relationship between flowering plants, bees, birds and butterflies. The exhibit displays at least 30 pieces of developmental and final artwork used to produce at least 28 flora stamps. The use of stamp art in various phases of development enables visitors to understand the role design artwork plays in the production of postage stamps. The artwork was borrowed from the renowned Postmaster General’s Collection which is on a long-term loan to the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum.
This exhibit explores the extraordinary life of Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804) through original mail sent and signed by him in his role as the first Secretary of the Treasury and through portraits of him and his contemporaries on postage and revenue stamps. The experience is augmented by in-gallery interactives and educational programming, all coinciding with the Washington dates of the national touring version of “Hamilton: An American Musical.”
Did you know that a village at the bottom of the Grand Canyon eats most of its mail? Or that America’s newest national park was once so secret it used an undercover address? "Trailblazing: 100 Years of Our National Parks", a two-year temporary exhibition, chronicles these and numerous other intersections between mail and our national parks. Featuring original postage stamp art from the United States Postal Service and artifacts loaned by the National Park Service, the exhibition explores the myriad – and sometimes surprising – ways that mail moves to, through and from our national parks.
Through personal correspondence written on the frontlines and home front, this centennial exhibition uncovered the history of America’s involvement in World War I. The compelling selection of letters illuminates emotions and thoughts engendered by the war that brought America onto the world stage; raised complex questions about gender, race and ethnic relations; and ushered in the modern era. Included were previously unpublished letters by General John Pershing, the general who led the American Expeditionary Forces and a person who understood the power of the medium. In his postwar letter that begins “My fellow soldiers,” he recognized each individual under his command for bravery and service. My Fellow Soldiers: Letters from World War I was created by the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum in collaboration with the Center for American War Letters at Chapman University.
“I am in the Army now.”
-Nurse Greta Wolf to her parents, July 10, 1918
World War I was a watershed for global political, economic, and social change, and for women’s rights and labor in the United States. During the war, women officially served in and alongside the military in unprecedented numbers and in ways that shaped the professionalization of women’s work. Through the letters and artifacts of four women, visitors can explore unique, personal perspectives on life, duty, and service during the war.
This exhibition was developed jointly by the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum and the Women In Military Service For America Memorial Foundation.
September 22, 2017 – January 21, 2018
Our museum actively collects objects that help tell stories about the postal service, the mail, and philately. Our curators seek out objects that have significant histories; objects that are rare or unique; or objects that reflect trends and customs. We invite you to peek behind the scenes to see how some of our recent acquisitions came to our museum. The objects selected for this exhibition were just a few of many items our museum added to the collection between 2012 and 2016, including: the marketing characters Mr. and Mrs. ZIP, postal workers’ uniforms and equipment, and decorative boxes for postage stamps.
PostSecret: The Power of a Postcard
August 3, 2015 – January 1, 2018 The exhibition communicates a contemporary narrative of mail and the postal service, highlighting the aesthetics of the communication tool itself and the juxtaposition between anonymity and shared experiences. It also demonstrates a unique relationship between mail, digital technology and social media. More than 500 artfully decorated postcards mailed anonymously from around the world reveal regret, fear, betrayal, desire, confession, childhood humiliation and other compelling confessions. A pyramid of more than one quarter million stacked cards represents the magnitude and popularity of sharing secrets via postcards.
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.
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.
Why Is This Elephant In This Room?
October 7, 2015 — January 31, 2017 In 2013, President Obama signed an executive order combating wildlife trafficking in the US. To highlight this effort, a pan institutional team at the Smithsonian Institution created a traveling exhibition that would highlight the effects of wildlife trafficking and the ivory trade on elephant populations. As part of this team, the National Postal Museum hosted the exhibition along with a feature on the Saving Vanishing Species semipostal stamp, which raises funds for wildlife conservation, as well as several stamps showing the issues of elephant ivory poaching and wildlife trafficking.
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.
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.
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 Inspectors: The Silent Service
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.
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.
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.
July 30, 1993 — September 21, 2013 With over 13 million philatelic objects in the museum's collection, this gallery featured the Rarities Vault, the National Stamp Collection (housed in pull-out cases), and changing and rotating exhibitions. The section More American Stamps, which opened Oct. 12, 1997, featured a selection of more than 55,000 American stamps, rotated every six months.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
September 9, 2009 — June 6, 2010 Franklin D. Roosevelt, president during the Great Depression, used stamps to communicate with the American people.
What's in the Mail for You!
November 4, 1996 — January 25, 2010 This state-of-the-art, hands-on exhibition offered an innovative look at the direct mail industry through a series of interactive displays, videos, computer games, holograms, and graphics. Visitors learned about the process of direct mail, the vast world of business mail, and its impact on society.
Treasures from the William H. Gross Collection
October 1, 2009 — October 31, 2009 In honor of National Stamp Collecting Month, the museum features three great stamp rarities on loan from William H. Gross, founder of PIMCO: a block of four 1918 "Inverted Jennys"; a cover from the Pony Express Service; and a cover featuring the 10-cent George Washington stamp, dated July 2, 1847.
Art of the Stamp: Lincoln's Bicentennial
February 12, 2009 — October 26, 2009 Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) first appeared on a U.S. postage stamp in 1866, around the first anniversary of his assassination. The United States Postal Service honors his 200th birthday with a set of four stamps, each capturing a different aspect of his life and career. Through the cooperation of the USPS Office of Stamp Services, the Smithsonian National Postal Museum was pleased to present the original artwork for the four new stamps.
Lincoln, Slavery, and the Civil War
March 6, 2009 — March 8, 2009 Eliot Landau's award-winning philatelic exhibition combined philately, ephemera, and artifacts in an engaging exploration of Lincoln's presidency, the Civil War, and Black History.
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.
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."
Disaster: Response and Recovery
June 27, 2007 — January 25, 2008 This exhibition revealed how the Postal Service responds to disasters — natural or manmade — that dramatically affect everyday life in an instant. Among the objects representing disaster in two cases were postal keys recovered from the body of sea post clerk Oscar Woody, who perished trying to protect the mail aboard the Royal Mail Ship (RMS) Titanic, a mailbox remnant that survived the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, and an envelope postmarked the first day mail service resumed in New Orleans after the destruction of Hurricane Katrina.
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.
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.
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.
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.
June 14, 2002 — September 15, 2004 On view was a scale model of the AP.1-88 hovercraft, a 70-foot-long land/water cargo vehicle, along with photographs and a video narrated by Sen. Ted Stevens, R.-Alaska. The exhibit explored the hovercraft's role in delivering mail to eight villages along the Kuskokwim River in rural western Alaska.
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.
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.
2003 Federal Junior Duck Stamp Art Exhibition
July 1, 2003 — August 3, 2003 On view were the 52 winning entries to the 2003 Federal Junior Duck Stamp state competitions representing each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and American Samoa. The top entry was a depiction of a green-winged teal pair by 18-year-old Nathan Bauman of Pennsylvania.
The 1847 Issue: America's First Stamp
November 16, 2002 — June 9, 2003 On view was a comprehensive collection of 1847 stamps and covers, selected from a philatelic album of more than 1,000 pages housed in Switzerland. The adoption of adhesive postage stamps in 1847, with the 5- and 10-cent issues bearing the likenesses of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, represents a turning point in the history of the mail service in the United States.
Town and Country
August 9, 2002 — February 4, 2003 On view were two highly detailed, fully functional, 1/6-size models of 19th-century mail delivery vehicles used in both urban and country settings.
Philatelic Firsts from the National Postal Museum
August 23, 2002 — October 28, 2002 This exhibition featured first-of-their-kind philatelic items, including:
the first U.S. postage stamp, a 10-cent stamp issued in 1847
the first airmail cover, signed by President Woodrow Wilson and sent on the 1st regular U.S. airmail flight on May 15, 1918
a British Coronation cover celebrating the coronation of King George VI and his wife Queen Elizabeth in 1937 and signed by the King and Queen
the earliest inverts, issued by the U.S. Postal Service in 1869 and illustrated with symbols and scenes from American history
Hawaiian rarities, including a 13-cent stamp issued in 1851
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.
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.
February 1, 2002 — August 2, 2002 This exhibition of stamps, books, photos, and illustrations honored the life of Harlem Renaissance poet and writer Langston Hughes (1901-1967), known for his lyrical, jazz-tinged interpretations of African American life. The exhibition opened on the 100th anniversary of Hughes' birth and coincides with the United States Postal Service's release of a stamp honoring the writer. This exhibition was part of the "Stamps with Personality" series, which highlighted the achievements of historical figures honored with their likenesses on postage stamps issued by the United States Postal Service.
Stampin' the Future
May 23, 2001 — June 17, 2002 This exhibition featured 99 winning art designs that were actually issued as postage stamps submitted to the "Stampin' the Future" contest by children ages 8-12 from nearly 30 countries. Sponsored by the United States Postal Service in 1998, the contest invited children worldwide to enter designs based on their dreams, hopes, and visions of the 21st century. The 99 talented winners were selected from a group of nearly 4 million participants worldwide, with 120,000 in the United States alone. The four winning U.S. designs were issued as stamps in July 2000.
Columbus' Voyage of Discovery: The Columbian Series of 1893
March 8, 2001 — May 6, 2002 This exhibition of rarities featured 12 sheets of 100 stamps each of the 1893 Columbian issues -- the first large-format commemorative stamps issued in the United States. Included were items ranging from the one-cent postcard stamp to the only surviving sheet of the one-dollar denomination. To accommodate depictions of key scenes in Columbus's life, the Columbians were produced at nearly twice the width of previous postage stamps.
July 19, 2001 — August 25, 2001 On view were approximately 50 hand-crafted envelopes — with the theme "200 Years of the Nation's Capital" — submitted by calligraphers from around the world for the museum's 7th Annual Graceful Envelope contest. Participants used a range of calligraphic methods and styles to decorate their envelopes. This exhibition celebrated 200 years of Washington, D.C., as the nation's capital and the 25th anniversary of the Washington Calligraphers Guild.
Mayhem by Mail
October 16, 1998 — April 23, 2001 This exhibition examined three categories of postal crime: crimes committed through the mail, crimes committed against the mail, and crimes of fraud against the public. Objects included a 1920s Tommy gun, a reconstructed mail bomb, and fraudulent mail advertisements.
The Graceful Envelope: 2000
May 5, 2000 — April 15, 2001 On view were 75 hand-crafted envelopes submitted by calligraphers from around the world for the museum's 6th annual Graceful Envelope contest. Participants used a range of calligraphic methods and styles to decorate their envelopes.
Presidential Mail: On Official Business
January 19, 2001 — March 26, 2001 On view were examples of envelopes "franked" by presidents from Jefferson to Carter. The franking privilege (the use of a signature as postage) began in the Colonial era so that officials could disseminate information about the newly established government. The franking privilege was conferred to members of Congress and to each president while in office.
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.
Recounting Roosevelt Presentation Albums, 1903-1905
July 26, 2000 — February 23, 2001 This Rarities Vault exhibition featured three rare philatelic presentation albums given as favors during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt.
Town and Country
September 22, 2000 — January 15, 2001 On view were 2 highly detailed, fully functional, 1/6-size models of 19th-century mail delivery vehicles used in both urban and country settings.
Tour de France Winner Lance Armstrong's Bicycle and Jersey
July 24, 2000 — September 5, 2000 On view are Lance Armstrong's United States Postal Service jersey and a replica of the bicycle that brought him victory in the 1999 Tour de France Race.* The United States Postal Service sponsored the U.S. Pro Cycling Team and has lent the items in connection with its cancer awareness/fundraising postage stamps.
*Now annulled as a result of a 2012 investigation by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
Just Ducky — The Federal Junior Duck Stamp Program
June 30, 2000 — August 3, 2000 This exhibition of juried artwork by students from the Federal Junior Duck Stamp Program was designed to encourage wetlands conservation awareness through the arts.
Undercover: The Evolution of the American Envelope
May 6, 1997 — May 25, 2000 Patent models from 1849-1879, illustrations, and stories of the inventors examine the evolution of envelope manufacturing in the mid-1900s.
More American Stamps
October 12, 1997 – May 25, 2000 On view was virtually every American stamp issue released through 1997.
Missing You: Last Letters from World War II
November 11, 1999 — April 30, 2000 This exhibition featured the last letters written by six members of the U.S. armed forces during World War II. The letters, treasured for decades by the families and friends of these brave men, bring to life voices that were stilled too soon.
Rural Routes: Folk Art Mailboxes of America: 1999
October 8, 1999 — April 13, 2000 On view are photographs of the top 5 finalists in the nationwide 1999 Folk Art Mailbox contest. The winning mailboxes depict the following:
A white horse with plumed tail
A cowboy on horseback
A Saguaro cactus made of wooden horseshoes
A 1930s-era McCormick Deering W30 tractor
A sculpture of metal tools and found objects
The Graceful Envelope: 1999
May 1, 1999 — October 31, 1999 On view were 75 hand-crafted envelopes submitted by professional calligraphers from around the world for the museum's 5th annual Graceful Envelope contest. Participants used a range of calligraphic methods and styles to decorate their envelopes with this year's theme, "celebrate the beauty of nature."
Down with the FRAUDS: Taxation as Consumer Protection
March 12, 1999 — September 10, 1999 On view were 25 revenue stamps that identified imitation food products and paid for enforcement of new consumer laws. During the 19th century, imitation food products such as oleomargarine and filled cheese were sold at bargain prices as authentic farm products. A reform movement to regulate and tax these adulterated products began in the 1870s. Highlights of the exhibition include an 1871 imported cigar stamp, an 1872 imitation wine stamp, 1926 and 1931 oleomargarine stamps, a series of 1952 filled cheese stamps, and a manufacturer's annual special tax stamp used on mixed-grain flour.
The Graceful Envelope: 1998
May 6, 1998 — April 30, 1999 On view were 75 hand-crafted envelopes submitted by professional calligraphers from around the world, featuring a range of calligraphic methods and styles, to celebrate the Museum's 5th anniversary.
State, Local, and Tribal Waterfowl Stamps
July 4, 1998 — December 31, 1998 On view were more than 40 rare state, local, and tribal waterfowl stamps, part of the legacy of state and local conservation programs started to restore dwindling North American waterfowl populations. Most of these stamps were nonpictorial, unlike the colorful federal duck stamps. Highlights included the only known example of the 1938 Pymatuning Lake waterfowl stamp, issued by Ohio; a 1943 Marion County, Kansas, duck stamp; a mint sheet of the 1950 South Dakota waterfowl stamps; and a 1959 Rosebud Sioux Tribe gamebird stamp. The stamps were from the collection of David Torre.
Rural Routes: Folk Art Mailboxes of America: 1998
July 30, 1998 — November 5, 1998 On view was the winning mailbox from the National Postal Museum's Folk Art Mailbox Contest, along with photographs of the 10 runners-up. The exhibition celebrated the National Postal Museum's 5th anniversary.
New Deal Architecture
July 30, 1998 — November 5, 1998 A display of vintage photos explored the unique architectural style of federal post offices across America during the New Deal, known at the time as "starved classical."
Our Town: Mural Art of the New Deal Era
July 30, 1998 — November 5, 1998 On view were 17 mural studies commissioned for U.S. Post Offices during the Great Depression as part of FDR's New Deal legislation. The goal was to give jobs to starving artists and to lift the spirits of struggling communities. The United States' entry into World War II marked the end of the post office mural projects.
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.
Spring 1997 — May 5, 1998 Some 500 stamps representing every state in Colombia and reflecting the country's history from 1859-1907 were on view. Stamps were donated by John V. Taylor of Villanova, Pennsylvania.
A Far Distant Land: Letters from the Mexican War
October 5, 1997 — May 4, 1998 On view were letters from Lt. William McKean to his family in Arkansas that describe his experiences in the Mexican War (1847-1848).
Reinventing Government: The Transformation of America's Postal System
July 1, 1996 — March 13, 1998 Editorial cartoons and contemporary accounts were used to examine the events surrounding the 1971 Postal Reform Act, which transformed the Post Office Department, then a federal agency, into the United States Postal Service.
The First Federal Postage Stamp Issue
June 27, 1997 – January 12, 1998 Commemorating the 150th anniversary of the first U.S. postage stamps, on view were the 5-cent and 10-cent federal stamps, original documents, covers from the stamps' early history, and die proofs.
Maps on Stamps
September 15, 1995 — October 15, 1997 On view were more than 100 U.S. and foreign stamps featuring portions of the world's geography, including oceans, countries, and states.
The Graceful Envelope: 1997
May 23, 1997 – October 4, 1997 On view were hand-crafted envelopes submitted by professional calligraphers from around the world featuring a range of calligraphic methods and styles.
More American Stamps
April 1, 1997 — September 16, 1997 On view were commemorative and definitive stamps issued in the United States from1988 through 1996.
Stamps & Stories
October 21, 1996 — September 11, 1997 This exhibition explored interesting facts behind the creation of 6 individual stamps and includes the first Christmas stamp, the first stamp to show an airplane, a Belgian stamp that carried a detachable label warning not to use the stamp on Sundays, and an image of a ship that was used for 2 different stamps.
Winners of the 1997-1998 Junior Duck Stamp Art Contest
July 11, 1997 — July 30, 1997 The 50 state winners of the 1997-1998 Junior Duck Stamp Art Contest were on view.
An Historic Collection from the French Revolution and Napoleonic Era
December 8, 1995 — May 15, 1997 On view were ten panels feature pre-stamp letters and historic documents that trace the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon. The collection was assembled by the late Henry A. Meyer.
Ties That Bind: The Newcomers' Experience
December 8, 1995 — May 15, 1997 This small collection of letters, photos, and related objects examined the relationship between American immigrants and their families.
Are We There Yet? Vacationing in America
May 12, 1995 — April 20, 1997 A display of 25 postcards taking a whimsical look at vacationing American-style in the 20th century. The postcards featured popular vacation destinations in America as well as some outlandish tourist spots.
Letters of a New Republic: The American Post from the Colonial Era to the Early National Period
November 24, 1996 — April 15, 1997 Mail covers illustrate mail carried in America by British and American Posts. Some of the covers were franked by important people of the day, among them George Washington. The British Parliamentary Posts in America operated from 1660 to 1783; the American Independent Posts operated from 1774 to 1800.
More American Stamps
September 29, 1995 — April 10, 1997 On view were commemorative and definitive stamps issued in the United States between 1977 and 1995.
October 21, 1996 — December 15, 1996 This topical display featured stamps that share the theme of chess, including stamps depicting famous chess world champions and traditional chess pieces.
The Jenny Class Reunion
July 30, 1996 — October 30, 1996 This exhibition reunited more than 20 of the 1918 Inverted Jenny stamps. One stamp was from the museum's collection; the rest were borrowed from collections around the nation.
Fakes and Forgeries
February 9, 1996 — October 20, 1996 This exhibition explored philatelic items that have been counterfeited, faked, or forged to defraud the Postal Service, to make money from unsuspecting collectors, to enhance the stamp's appearance and value, or simply to fill out an album page.
April 30, 1996 — October 20, 1996 This exhibition featured rare Japanese philatelic items from the Christenson collection. The exhibition was in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the International Society for Japanese Philately and NAPEX, the National Philatelic Exhibition.
The Graceful Envelope: 1996
May 1, 1996 — October 6, 1996 These 40 uniquely designed, hand-crafted envelopes, submitted by professional calligraphers from around the world, illustrated different calligraphic methods and styles.
From Nashville With Love: Tennessee Rarities from the Jeanette Cantrell Rudy Collection
November 7, 1995 — July 8, 1996 On view were rare stamps and covers reflecting the history and culture of the state of Tennessee. The artifacts are from the collection of Jeanette Cantrell Rudy of Nashville, Tennessee.
Unwelcome: Moritz Schoenberger and the S.S. St. Louis
September 15, 1994 — April 10, 1996 This exhibition featured letters, documents, and photographs of Moritz Schoenberger, a Holocaust survivor who traveled aboard the S.S. St. Louis with Jewish refugees in 1939. The exhibit was part of a series of changing exhibits at the museum that illustrate how letters bind families together across time and distance.
Moving America's Growing Mail
July 30, 1993 – January 1, 1996 This exhibition explored the U.S. Postal Service's automotive fleet in the 20th century and includes a long-life vehicle and a mail jeep.
October 24, 1994 — October 20, 1995 On view was a selection of approximately 15 historic philatelic items, including stamp sketches by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, an 18th-century Bristol packet boat cover, a one-cent invert from the 1901 Pan American Exposition issue, and an array of two-cent commemoratives from the 1893 Columbian Exposition set. A special display commemorated the 125th anniversary of the issuance of the stamp set of 1869.
Best Wishes: Holiday Greetings from the White House
November 28, 1994 — April 23, 1995 This special holiday display featured Christmas cards from the first families beginning with the Eisenhower administration to 1995. More than 10 cards, photographs, and political memorabilia illustrated the varying tastes and styles of America's first families.
Gems of Hawaii: The Honolulu Advertiser Collection
July 29, 1994 – October 16, 1994 This exhibition of rare stamps traced the history of the Hawaiian Kingdom, its rulers, and the political change that swept the territory in the 19th century. The exhibition commemorated the first anniversary of the National Postal Museum.
The Madden Family Letters
July 29, 1994 – October 16, 1994 On view were letters that trace the history of an African American family from Virginia through five generations (1740-1992). Also on view were photographs and official documents.