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.
On behalf of Owney the Dog, our famed four-legged friend (he is on a stamp!), the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum (NPM) cordially invites you to the Dog Days of Summer Family Festival. The program activities will take place throughout the museum on Saturday, July 29th from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.
When his original owner had to leave him behind, Owney was adopted by the owner’s colleagues at the Albany, New York post office. In 1888, he began to ride with the mailbags on trains across the state and then later throughout the entire country. It was not his assigned duty to guard mail during his travels, but historic accounts suggest he was very protective of mail bags. Owney’s dedication often lead him to acts of selfless heroism, once staying behind with a mailbag that accidentally fell off the train.
In honor of Owney’s story, we are teaming up with local animal rescue groups and the Amtrak Police K-9 Unit. We will have demonstrations to showcase the work of K-9 dogs and other fun and hands-on activities inside the museum. In our outdoor terrace space, we are hosting an adoption fair. NPM will be partnering with rescue groups such as the Humane Rescue Alliance, City Dogs Rescue and Homeward Trails Animal Rescue. Though the majority of animals that are available for adoption will be dogs, there will be cats as well.
Come join us at the Dog Days of Summer Family Festival to get to know Owney the Dog, and understand the role animals play in our postal system to help transport and protect mail.
Owney the Dog made the Albany, New York post office his forever home, but making a post office a home isn’t for every pup. From 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, our program partners – Humane Rescue Alliance, City Dogs Rescue and Homeward Trails Animal Rescue will be set up on the museum terrace space, bringing in rescue dogs and cats who are looking for their forever homes. Some of the rescue animals are available for adoption on the same day, but others need to go through an additional process before you can take them home. Whether you are looking to adopt or not, come visit and meet some of the furry friends who need a home. The animal you adopt at the Festival may become famous one day, just like Owney!
K-9 Demonstration with Amtrak Police
While U.S. mail is mainly moved by trucks and planes these days, there are still some courier companies using rail as a mean to transport packages. The USPS had a contract with Amtrak to carry mail until 2004, and the Post Office benefited from the diligent work of law enforcement and K-9 units as they not only protected people on board, but also cargo and mail. Today, their main focus is protecting people, but the Amtrak K-9 Unit has been a very important part of the U.S. mail story. Sergeant Micah Jones from the Amtrak Police Department and his partner Summer, a female yellow Labrador, will demonstrate what their patrol routine looks like. Join us for demonstrations at 11:30 am and again at 2:00 pm in the Museum Atrium.
Go on a scavenger hunt and receive a medal of completion after you finish your journey through the museum. Find objects that are related to unique roles animals play in the postal system and try your hand at various activities that are both fun and educational.
Make Owney Paper Puppet
Make your museum visit more fun by creating an Owney puppet! Let your creation follow you around, just like Owney accompanied postal clerks on their travels.
Join us for a special story time about Owney the Dog, and other animals that helps carry mail. Story time begins every half hour in the Museum Atrium. Owney, the Mail-Pouch Pooch by Mona Kerby Mule Train Mail by Craig Brown
Owney the Dog Mo-‘woof’-vie Theater
In our temporary Mo’woof’vie Theater, watch the true story of Owney come to “life” with beautiful animation, a fun (and historically accurate) story, and the deep grandfather baritone of Trace Adkins! Sing along to a catchy theme song, “The Owney Song.”
Tracking Paws: Map Owney’s Travels
Owney’s wide-spread travels left him with almost 400 tokens and tags that mark different the different places he visited. By looking at some of these tokens and tags, see if you can tell which cities he has traveled to, and where they are located on the map! At this station, you can also create your tag which you can attach to your paper puppet Owney to mark his travels.
Mule Mail Challenge
We have numbers of dog related postal stories, but there are other animal that should steal your attention. In Supai, Arizona, a Mule Train delivers mail down to a small village located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. What do you think are the top 3 things you couldn’t live without and would want delivered if you lived at the bottom of the Grand Canyon? Delivering mail by mule may sound fun, but making it work comes with some challenges. See if you are up for the challenge by trying our agility course which simulates the mule train mail delivery. Compete with your friends or family members to see which one of you can deliver mail the fastest to the bottom of the canyon!
Ice Pops Give Away
Washington DC summer heat can be brutal, but we got you a little special treat for making a trip to the Family Festival on one of the hottest days of the summer. We ask you to either participate in a hands-on activity in the museum (you will receive a ticket), or take a selfie with Owney and post it to your social media account to claim your free icy goodness.