Saturday, August 31, 2013

Systems at Work

During my trip to Washington D.C., I managed a brief late afternoon visit to the Smithsonian National Postal Museum near the Union Station. The museum was established through a joint agreement between the United States Postal Service and the Smithsonian Institution. It opened in 1993. The building housing the museum was constructed in 1914 and had served as the Main Post Office of Washington D.C. until 1986.

Although the museum is small when compared to its Smithsonian cousins, it houses many interactive displays about the history of the United States Postal Service, and the history of mail service and stamp collections around the world. Among them, "Systems at Work" leads visitors through 10 different periods and reveals the evolution of the postal system in the U.S. over time. You can participate simulated postal activities by tossing packages into mail pouches as mail clerks did in 1917, keying letters on a computerized version of a multiple position letter-sorting machine operated in 1968, or scanning barcodes using handheld intelligent mail devices.

My favorite part was to gather cancellation marks from various eras on a postcard.

The admission is free. For those who can't attend in person, you can visit the online version on the web.

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