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National Postal Museum

Coordinates: 38°53′53″N 77°00′30″W / 38.89806°N 77.00833°W / 38.89806; -77.00833
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National Postal Museum
National Postal Museum in 2008
National Postal Museum is located in Central Washington, D.C.
National Postal Museum
Location of the National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C.
National Postal Museum is located in the United States
National Postal Museum
National Postal Museum (the United States)
EstablishedJuly 30, 1993 (1993-07-30)
LocationPostal Square Building
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Coordinates38°53′53″N 77°00′30″W / 38.89806°N 77.00833°W / 38.89806; -77.00833
DirectorElliot Gruber[1]
Public transit access at Union Station
Amtrak/MARC/VRE at Washington Union Station
Websitepostalmuseum.si.edu Edit this at Wikidata

The National Postal Museum, located opposite Washington Union Station in Washington, D.C., United States, covers large portions of the postal history of the United States and other countries. It was established through joint agreement between the United States Postal Service and the Smithsonian Institution and opened in 1993.[2]



The museum is located across the street from Washington Union Station, in the building that served as the main post office of Washington, D.C. for decades, from its construction in 1914 until 1986. The building was designed by the Graham and Burnham architectural firm, which was led by Ernest Graham following the death of Daniel Burnham in 1912.[3]

The headquarters of the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics is based in this building, and there is also space for a data center for the United States Senate.



The museum's atrium features vehicles used to deliver mail throughout the history of the USPS, including planes, trains and automobiles.[4] Historical exhibits guide visitors through the postal service's inception and expansion, as well as its role in significant national events such as World War II.[5][6] "Systems at Work" explores historic and current technologies involved in mail processing and delivery, such as message boxes, ZIP codes, optical scanners and conveyor systems.[7]

The museum holds the National Philatelic Collection. The museum has a gift shop and a United States Postal Service philatelic sales window. Admission is free.

In 2005, the museum acquired the childhood stamp collection of the late singer/songwriter John Lennon.[8] From June 2015 until December 2019, the museum displayed the 1856 British Guiana 1c magenta, the world's most valuable stamp, which sold for nearly $10 million.[9]

In September 2009, the museum received an $8 million gift from investment firm founder William H. Gross to help finance an expansion project. The William H. Gross Stamp Gallery of the museum is named in his honor.[10]



Since 2002, the museum has presented the Smithsonian Philatelic Achievement Award every two years.


See also



  1. ^ "Meet our staff". National Postal Museum. Archived from the original on 2017-07-04. Retrieved 2017-10-08.
  2. ^ "History of the Museum". postalmuseum.si.edu. Retrieved 2023-10-03.
  3. ^ Weeks, Christopher. (1994) AIA Guide to the Architecture of Washington, D.C. (3rd Edition), Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-4713-3.
  4. ^ "Current Exhibitions". postalmuseum.si.edu. Retrieved 2023-09-22.
  5. ^ "Binding the Nation". postalmuseum.si.edu. Retrieved 2023-09-22.
  6. ^ "Mail Call". postalmuseum.si.edu. Retrieved 2023-09-22.
  7. ^ "Systems at Work". postalmuseum.si.edu. Retrieved 2023-09-22.
  8. ^ John Lennon's First Album. Archived 2017-07-30 at the Wayback Machine Owen Edwards, Smithsonian.com, September 2005. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  9. ^ "British Guiana One-Cent Magenta". postalmuseum.si.edu. Archived from the original on 2023-03-28. Retrieved 2023-03-28.
  10. ^ "William H. Gross Stamp Gallery". postalmuseum.si.edu. Archived from the original on 2023-03-28. Retrieved 2023-03-28.