Every museum has a story to tell, and some of the most fascinating stories — those paralleling the history of the United States — are displayed at the National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C. 

The museum is part of the Smithsonian Institution and is conveniently located next to Union Station. 

The National Postal Museum portrays stories of American history through the unique lens of the postal service’s own history and through the lens of the stamps required to send mail through the decades. 

Credit: National Postal Museum

On exhibit at the museum is the largest and most comprehensive collection of stamps and philatelic material in the world. Exhibits highlight postal stationery, vehicles used to transport the mail, mailboxes, meters, cards and letters, and postal materials that predate the use of stamps. Also of interest are John Lennon’s childhood stamp collection, mail documents from the Hindenburg crash and an Amelia Earhart exhibit. 

Scholars, philatelists, collectors and visitors from around the world can access the postal service’s rich history through the museum exhibits. 

“It’s a great place for people of all ages and is one of the highest-rated museums in all of Washington, D.C.,” said Marshall F. Emery, manager, public relations and internet affairs, Smithsonian Institution, National Postal Museum. 

Credit: National Postal Museum

Exhibits favored by tour groups include “the highly interactive William H. Gross Stamp Gallery, the largest in the world,” Emery said. Groups also enjoy seeing the airplanes, trains, stagecoaches and other vehicles that have delivered mail for almost 250 years, he added.

The museum offers self-guided and docent-led tours. All tours are free. 

While the museum can accommodate any number of visitors, tours typically accommodate 20 visitors each. Groups of 10 or more require reservations, which can be made by contacting the visitor services department of the museum at npmtours@si.edu

Motorcoach parking is available at Union Station next to the museum.

For more information, call 202-633-5555 or visit postalmuseum.si.edu.

Main image: National Postal Museum; Credit: National Postal Museum

Article by Kathie Sutin