Bringing Postal History to Life
Celebrating three decades of the National Postal Museum
The 30th anniversary of the Smithsonian National Postal Museum in Washington, DC, holds a special meaning for me. I remember the day the doors of the old City Post Office reopened to reveal a one-of-kind collection of stamps and Postal Service memorabilia, all housed in an architectural wonder right in the heart of our nation’s capital.
Seeing this vast collection of postal history on display was a joy to behold, and even today, as someone tasked with telling the Postal Service story in a meaningful and engaging way, this museum continues to be an endless source of inspiration.
I am not alone in this admiration. The Postal Museum is one of Washington’s most popular tourist destinations, drawing visitors from far and wide — along with locals like me — to its unique exhibits. There is something for everyone and all ages. For those passionate about philately, the Postal Museum’s collection of stamps is a world leader, and the historic lobby alone is worth the visit for architecture buffs.
The building’s massive atrium is also a star attraction, serving as a perfect backdrop for a history lesson on postal transportation, showcasing the evolution from horse-drawn stagecoaches to the dawn of powered flight to modern trucking.
On top of all this, the Postal Museum can supplement its vast collection with the unparalleled reserves of the Smithsonian Institution, and this allows the museum to fully engage with what I believe is its most important feature — telling America’s story.
The Postal Service has helped shape this country since its fight for independence, and our institution has been intrinsic to America’s growth and prosperity for almost 250 years. For me, that bond between the Postal Service and our country will always be an inspiration, and it resonates now more than ever as we transform USPS under our Delivering for America plan into the modern, viable mail system this country deserves.
And the future is bright for this jewel in the Smithsonian’s crown, with digitalization and virtual tours broadening the museum’s access and appeal. Expect some surprises, too, as its curators prepare to celebrate the Postal Service’s 250th anniversary in 2026. There is so much going on, and thankfully, you can hear about it first-hand from the Postal Museum’s director, Elliot Gruber, who recently sat down with the hosts of our popular “Mailin’ It” podcast. Like everything else at the Postal Museum, Elliot is a real treasure.
Much has changed since the Postal Museum opened its doors on July 31, 1993, but it is as relevant today as it was 30 years ago. If you are ever in Washington, don’t miss the opportunity to soak in the experience — it is well worth the visit. And any day, feel free to visit postalmuseum.si.edu and see what inspires you.
Steven W. Monteith
Chief Customer and Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President