I like to think of the National Postal Museum as a locals’ secret, overlooked by tourists and overshadowed by its counterparts on the Mall. Whether it really is or not, I’m not sure, but I do know that it wasn’t even on my museum radar until I took Owen to an event there when he was about two years old. I remember feeling surprised that I wasn’t aware of it before then. Part of the Smithsonian, it’s quite an interesting attraction and aesthetically pleasing space, plus it’s located in the beautiful historic City Post Office building next to Union Station where I’d been plenty of times to both send mail and eat at the Capitol City Brewery that used to be housed there.
Anyway, since I became aware of the Postal Museum’s existence, it’s been a staple in our local museum rotation, as you’ve likely gathered by now from my many recommendations to visit. (A recent rainy day outing there prompted me to finally blog about it.) Like many local galleries in DC, admission is free, it’s conveniently located — we can walk or bike there, and for folks farther out, it’s Metro accessible — and we can lunch at Union Station pre- or post-outing.
But the best features of the museum are the collections, which appeal to a wide range of ages, and are particularly compelling for kids. Presenting the history of mail and the postal process, there are big installations like old mail trucks, a train car, an airplane, and other modes of mail transport on display in the beautiful atrium. And most exhibits contain interactive elements that keep young visitors engaged — they can explore the Pony Express, stamp letters, sort packages, create postcards, and much more.
I also appreciate their family workshops, which are always fun and well-organized. We’ve created Valentines and holiday cards at some and attended events that celebrate milestones in mail. Most of these programs take place on weekends, but every now and then there’s something special during the week, too. Of course, I always try to keep you posted on all of them. But event or not, the Postal Museum is worth a visit anytime.
The National Postal Museum is located at 2 Massachusetts Avenue NE. It’s open 10am – 5:30pm daily, except December 25. Admission is free. It’s right next to Union Station, which is on Metro’s Red Line. If you drive, you can park in Union Station’s garage for about $10, though you might get lucky and find metered parking near the SEC on the east side of Union Station or even an unmetered space in the residential area just beyond.