Exploring the New-look Postal Museum

When the Smithsonian National Postal Museum’s new William H. Gross Stamp Gallery opens on September 22, there’s little doubt both those with a passing interest in stamps and hardcore collectors will be pleased. The 12,000-square foot space, the museum’s web site says, “continually reminds visitors that the history of stamps is intertwined with the history of America.”

It’s an exciting time for the Postal Museum, an organization PhotoAssist has worked closely with over the years. We proudly collaborated on the creation of several exhibits, including multiple Art of the Stamp displays. This week, we got a sneak peak of the Gross Gallery.

To put it simply: it’s very, very cool.

As soon as you walk into the museum’s Historic Lobby—which if you’re visiting Washington, D.C. is located right outside Union Station—you’ll notice a series of massive video screens that will be filled with stamp-related graphics.

Inside, the gallery is split into several sections. The first exhibit you see when you walk in is the World of Stamps. There are dozens of images of oversized stamps on display on video monitors, some of which are hanging from the ceiling. Postal Museum exhibits director Patricia Burke aptly described the display as a “stamp tree.” It’s a great introduction to the Gross Gallery, which full of stamp-related goodies. “You can’t walk in here and say, ‘I don’t know that this is a gallery of stamps,’” Burke said.

Connect With U.S. Stamps is another interesting exhibit. My favorite aspects of the area, which is designed to show how stamp production has evolved over time, are the touchscreen tables visitors can use. Each monitor, which is shaped like a giant rectangular stamp, gives visitors an extensive digital library of stamps to browse through. You can search the huge database—4,000 stamps!—select your favorites, and email the stamp images to yourself to create a virtual collection. There is a great mix of classics and modern stamps to choose from.

The most discerning stamp collectors will love the National Stamp Salon, which features pullout frames that hold stamps and various other items. Also on display in the salon: the Postmaster General’s stamp collection.

And those are just a few of the exhibits at the Gross Gallery. It opens on September 22, and is definitely worth a visit.

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