We here at Culture Monster – all right, one of us here at Culture Monster – was a stamp collector as a kid.
So the news that the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum will be opening what it calls "the world's largest stamp gallery" on Sept. 22 was especially welcome.
The William H. Gross Stamp Gallery – named after its No. 1 benefactor -- will feature stamps as well as historically significant mail in the context of American history and culture, the museum said.
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Highlights of the collection include stamps of Hawaiian kings, before Hawaii was officially a state; an 1868 1-cent Z-grill stamp – one of two in existence; and a letter to John Hancock postmarked July 4, 1776.
The new, 12,000-square-foot exhibit space will not arrive on the museum scene subtly: One exterior wall of windows features images of 54 historic stamps that light up and glow at night.
Inside, the gallery space is divided into six areas with interactive displays that tell the stories behind the stamps. "Pullout frames" will hold more than 20,000 items for close view, some of which have never been seen before.