Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In Which I Walk, Read, and Visit the Nerdiest Museum

After my adventures at the Folger Monday, I wandered around the Capitol Hill area for a while.  Look at these houses:

Capitol Hill Houses

How could you not want to live in those houses? Especially since they're across the street from the Library of Congress and the Folger Shakespeare Library! Throw in a Cafe Rio on the other side, and my own little 1-block Eden would be complete!

The interior botanical gardens were closed by the time I got back to the Smithsonian area, but their outdoor gardens were still open. I wandered around them for a while, then found a quiet bench in the shade and pulled out my Kindle. to alternate reading and eavesdropping on the conversations of the other tourists passing by.

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Where I read

Botanical Fountain
An Alice-in-Wonderlandian Fountain

On Tuesday I went to the National Postal Museum. The thought of an entire museum dedicated to the Postal Service entertained me, and I wanted to see just what they did to make it "Interactive!" as their advertisements promised.

The interior of the building, which they share with the Bureau of Labor, is cool looking:

Postal Building

and, true to Smithsonian form, when you first enter the museum you are greeted by various vehicles:

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They had an old-fashioned train car where you could try your hand at sorting mail:

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Old-Timey video viewers:

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A stage-coach you could hop into for a photo-op with some creepy cream-colored plastic people:

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A Post-Office version of the Oregon Trail you could play on a touch-table:

Postal Oregon Trail

And a passage where you could "trace the route the mail carriers of the Old West took!" complete with painted snow and hatchet-marked trees:

Postal Walk-through

Aside from the "history of the mail" exhibits, the other exhibits focused on how awesome the postal system is. For example, they have displays of the Unabomber's handcuffs and an extortionist letter from a 1920's gangster which illustrate how postal workers help fight terrorism. Or, there's the way that the postal system supports the First Amendment:

Postal First Amendment

by delivering newspapers:

Postal Newspapers

About 1/3 of the museum is dedicated to stamps. There is a room that goes through the ABCs of stamp collecting:

Postal Stamp Collection

And another room that houses hundreds of examples of domestic and international stamps in shelves that you can pull out to explore:

Postal Museum Shelves

Postal Museum - Pulled-out Shelf

My favorite part of the museum, though, was the part that summed up the true post office experience:

Postal Museum - Closed Post Office

When I went to buy stamps, the post office was closed for lunch.

1 comment:

  1. I actually laughed out loud in a room with only myself and Jack when I read that last part!

    Also, I was all prepared to contest 'nerdiest museum', but I don't think I will.