Postal Updates

National Postal Museum celebrates 30th anniversary

Aug 14, 2023, 11 AM
The National Postal Museum celebrated its 30th anniversary on July 30. This photo was taken Sept. 22, 2013, during the grand opening of the museum’s William H. Gross Stamp Gallery. Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution, National Postal Museum.

By Allen Abel

The National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C., celebrated the 30th anniversary of its opening as a freestanding part of the Smithsonian Institution on July 30, confident in its internet ranking and its future as one of the top 20 attractions in the nation’s capital, even as it honors the historical importance of handwritten personal communication that fewer and fewer Americans still use.

“This is the single greatest museum to ever exist in the history of the world,” a visitor from Las Vegas who calls herself Makayla K. gushed on the Yelp website in March. “Backstory: I believe the post office is the backbone of American democracy ... Now, dear reader, you may be worried that the high expectations are going to be a breeding ground for disappointment. Do not fear.”

“I didn’t know that this Museum even existed, even after having visited the Smithsonian and Union Station repeatedly,” said lorrieb543 of Houston on the Trip Advisor website. “We got stamps from various countries (each visitor is allowed to take home 6 for free!!) and we had lots of fun exploring them hands on. There is a lot of history involved in stamps ...”

With an average rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 on Trip Advisor, the National Postal Museum is ranked No. 18 out of 498 “things to do in Washington,” much to the delight of Daniel A. Piazza, the museum’s chief curator.

“For a postal museum to be a top-twenty attraction, that’s incredible,” Piazza told Linn’s in an interview at the museum on July 31.

“A lot of people don’t know what to expect at a postal museum, so that works in our favor,” Piazza said. “A lot of our popularity is due to the alchemy of presenting material that is incredible for the philatelist, plus it is a great general-interest story that also has high-quality philately attached to it.”

“More than 10.6 million people have visited the National Postal Museum in the past 30 years,” the Smithsonian Institution noted in an announcement for the museum’s 30th anniversary. “Many millions more have visited us online to learn about our museum and experience amazing stories of American history.”

According to the Smithsonian Institution, the National Postal Museum is home to one of the world’s largest collections of stamps and philatelic materials and has “postal history material that pre-dates stamps, vehicles used to transport the mail, mailboxes and mailbags, postal uniforms, equipment, and much more.”

The museum also houses the William H. Gross Stamp Gallery, “the largest gallery in the world dedicated to stamps and philatelic material,” the Smithsonian Institution said.

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