Over the weekend, I took three of my kids to the National Postal Museum in Washington, DC. I’d wanted to go to this often-overlooked Smithsonian museum for ages, and was so glad that I finally made the time. There’s plenty for little ones to do at the National Postal Museum, including a scavenger hunt and lots of interactive activities to keep your crew interested and occupied.
When we first arrived, we received a one-page scavenger hunt that required my kids to find various stamps and exhibits, then answer simple questions, like “Find the world’s first postage stamp. What color is the stamp?” The kids also had to find a cancellation stamp to cancel two envelopes on the sheet.
We started in the William H. Gross Stamp Gallery, which had lots of colorful, oversized stamps hanging on the walls and the ceiling. As we made our way through the gallery, which included rare stamps, as well as stamps from around the world, we ended up at the Connect with U.S. Stamps exhibit, which featured touchscreen tables that let kids view and enlarge different stamps, like stamps featuring the Muppets.
My kids were also able to spend time making their own postage stamps. At this kiosk, kids can either take a photo of themselves for the stamp or choose an image, like a dinosaur or elephant. They then choose the postage rate to add to the stamp and can send the stamp to an email address to print out at home. Kids are also able to start their own stamp collections by picking out six cancelled stamps to place inside special envelopes to take home.
We then made our way downstairs to check out several other exhibits, and to see a railway mail train, a stagecoach and a postal vehicle of today. My kids enjoyed the Systems at Work exhibit where they were able to use handheld scanners to scan barcodes on various pieces of mail, as well as use cancellation stamps to cancel stamps on postcards. They also got to take their picture with Mr. ZIP, the mascot that was created in the 1960s to help the U.S. Postal Service promote the use of zip codes.
All in all, we really enjoyed our visit to the National Postal Museum. We spent about 90 minutes exploring the museum. I could have spent more time there, but my kids (ages 4, 6 & 8) were ready to eat lunch. Fortunately, the National Postal Museum is next door to Union Station, which has a large food court in the basement with lots of meal options.