A Museum, A Monument & A Meal...

Chuck and Hazel returned from Venice yesterday and had tickets to a play at the Kennedy Center today. We thought it would be fun if we drove into D.C. with them and did a final day of exploration, while they were at the theater.

The Smithsonian's National Postal Museum is located in the historic City Post Office Building, which was constructed in 1914 and served as the Washington, D.C. Post Office until 1986. The Museum occupies 100,000 square feet of the building with 35,000 square feet devoted to exhibition space. The Museum also houses a 6,000-square-foot research library, a stamp store and a museum shop.
I am a lover of mail. I have always been and I always will be. I have found the perfect sentiment to describe "mail".  The carved words were succinct and perfect for the home of the Smithsonian Institution's National Postal Museum:
Messenger of Sympathy and Love
Servant of Parted Friends
Consoler of the Lonely
Bond of the Scattered Family
Enlarger of the Common Life
Carrier of News and Knowledge
Instrument of Trade and Industry
Promoter of Mutual Acquaintance
Of Peace and of Goodwill Among Men and Nations.
The Museum's galleries explore America's postal history and philately from colonial times to the present.
There were even a couple back home connections. We learned that the Reno stop was an important part of the Air Mail path.  
How cool is this Wiseman-Cooke Plane? Fred Wiseman took off on February 17, 1911 with a handful of mail, flying from Petaluma to Santa Rosa, California. He flew about 100 feet off the ground at a maximum speed of 70 mph. He carried letters from Petaluma’s mayor and town leaders and copies of the local newspaper. Forced down by engine trouble, Wiseman resumed his flight the next morning, using a tarp as a runway. Over a farmhouse, he tossed a newspaper to a woman working in her yard. Near Santa Rosa, a wire caught in the propeller. Wiseman was down again. Nevertheless, he stepped out to a growing, cheering crowd who picked up the pilot and his mail and drove them into town.

I was intrigued by the Gems of Philately section which included a great video about the most famous U.S. stamp of all, the 1918 Inverted Jenny. I learned a lot here.
This display was just plain sad, to me. From mystery addresses and deficient postage to unclaimed items, undeliverable mail fell to the care and handling of the Dead Letter Office. For most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the Dead Letter Office functioned to ensure all measures were taken to uphold the bargain that postage paid assured delivery.
I was drawn to PostSecret: The Power of a Postcard.
The exhibition communicates a contemporary narrative of mail and the postal service, highlighting the aesthetics of the communication tool itself and the juxtaposition between anonymity and shared experiences. It also demonstrates a unique relationship between mail, digital technology and social media. More than 500 artfully decorated postcards mailed anonymously from around the world reveal regret, fear, betrayal, desire, confession, childhood humiliation and other compelling confessions. From sexual taboos and criminal activity to confessions of hidden acts of kindness and shocking habits and fears, the display shares deep secrets by individuals seeking a safe and anonymous space to share untold stories. A pyramid of more than one quarter million stacked cards represents the magnitude and popularity of sharing secrets via postcards.
Many were hopeful. Some were silly and fun. Yet the majority were truly "secrets" and the sadness was almost too much at times. Thankfully, the exhibit had humor mixed in just enough to lighten things up.
Toe cleavage?
We wanted to make certain to see one of D.C.'s many monuments so we stopped at Thomas Jefferson's (1743–1826). The neoclassical Memorial building, on the Tidal Basin off the Washington Channel of the Potomac River, was designed by the architect John Russell Pop with construction beginning in 1939 and completed in 1943. Interestingly, the bronze statue of Jefferson wasn't added until 1947.

We regrouped for dinner at The Old Ebbitt Grill, Washington's oldest saloon (1856). It seemed fitting that our last night together should be one of dining in history. It was been an incredible visit. Tomorrow, we move on but with some wonderful memories shared.

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Cyndy Brown said...

Love your stamp and love the Smithsonian...although, I haven't been there for 20 years plus

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