The Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum is dedicated to the preservation, study and presentation of postal history and philately. The museum uses exhibits, educational public programs and research to make this rich history available to scholars, philatelists, collectors and visitors from around the world.
Visitors enter the Museum through the lobby of the building and proceed to escalators that transport
them down to the floor level of the Museum's 90-foot-high atrium. The atrium, which features three suspended
airmail planes, is one of five exhibit galleries that tells the story of postal history in America.
The National Philatelic Collection was established at the Smithsonian in 1886 with the
donation of a sheet of 10-cent Confederate postage stamps. Generous gifts from individuals
and foreign governments, transfers from government agencies and occasional purchases have
increased the collection to today's total of more than 5.9 million items.
From 1908 until 1963, the collection was housed in the Smithsonian's Arts and Industries
Building on the National Mall. In 1964, the collection was moved to the museum that is now
known as the National Museum of American History. There, the collection expanded to include
postal history and stamp production. The collection was then moved to its present location and
the National Postal Museum opened on July 30, 1993.
In addition to one of the world's largest collections of stamps and philatelic materials,
the National Postal Museum has postal history material that pre-dates stamps,
vehicles used to transport the mail, mailboxes and mailbags, postal uniforms and equipment.