First Voyage of Christopher Columbus, Crossing the Atlantic by Richard Schlecht. Courtesy US Postal Service.


Archived exhibitions are no longer available for booking but are maintained as a virtual record of past Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) programs.

Few works of art enjoy as vast an audience as American stamps. At their most basic, stamps are simple proofs of postage, but with the addition of graphic designs that honor national heroes and commemorate historical events, they become something much greater: compelling works of art that serve, in the words of W.B. Yeats, as “the silent ambassadors on national taste.”

Recently on view at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum, The Art of the Stamp comprises 100 small works of original art created by 52 top professional illustrators and designers working in the United States. These miniature masterpieces, whose design spans the 1960s to the present, reflect the evolutionary process of American stamps as new subjects and designs are explored.

The subject matter depicted in The Art of the Stamp runs the gamut of American history and culture, arts and entertainment, and science and nature—from birds to Broadway musicals, movie stars to the military, flowers to transportation. The exhibition also affords a rare opportunity to get a glimpse of how stamp designs are developed, from pencil sketches to final artwork. Preliminary sketches and behind-the-scenes material for other stamps show the complexity of the process.

One of the most famous stamps in recent memory is the “Elvis Presley,” the most popular stamp of all time with record sales of 500 million. The Art of the Stamp features the original art for this now-iconic stamp along with four preliminary concept portraits. Also presented are two original Norman Rockwell pieces commissioned by the United States Postal Service (USPS), one of the few times these two works have been publicly displayed.

This collection from the USPS achieves what President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who helped design several stamps, saw as the chief aim of stamp art: It “dispels boredom, enlarges our vision, broadens our knowledge, makes us better citizens, and in innumerable ways enriches our lives.”

Up button


Exhibition specifications

Contents 100 works on paper, wall cases, text panels, labels.

Educational resources, PR materials, bibliography, contact list

Participation Fee

$8,000 for a 12-week booking period, plus prorated shipping


490 running feet (150 running meters)

Crates 6

495 kg (1,090 lb.), est.

Category Art

Moderate, with light restrictions


Prorated, SITES-designated carrier

SITES Contacts Minnie Micu, 202.633.3160 (Scheduling)
Toured Through

March 2008

Up button

Tour itinerary

Dates   Host Institution Status
5/7/05 7/31/05 R.W. Norton Art Gallery, Shreveport, LA Booked
8/20/05 11/13/05 Durham Western Heritage Museum, Omaha, NE Booked
12/3/05 1/26/06 Midwest Museum of American Art, Elkhart, IN Booked
7/1/06 9/24/06 Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center, Fremont, OH Booked
10/14/06 1/7/07 Littleton Historical Museum, Littleton, CO Booked
1/27/07 4/22/07 Plains Art Museum, Fargo, ND Booked
5/12/07 8/5/07 J. Wayne Stark Gallery, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX Booked
8/25/07 11/18/07 Orange County Regional History Center, Orlando, FL Booked
12/8/07 3/2/08 Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma, WA Booked

Up button

Related publications
None listed at this time. Please check back later.  

Up button

Press Release
None listed at this time. Please check back later.

Up button


Exhibition Specifications

Tour Itinerary

Exhibition Images

Promotional Materials

Related Publications

Press Release

More Exhibitions from SITES


| | | |

Mailing Address
PO Box 37012
MRC 941
Washington, DC 20013-7012
202.633.3168 (tel.)
202.633.5347 (fax)

Delivery Address
470 L'Enfant Plaza, SW
Suite 7103
Washington, DC 20024



SITES Home SITES blog SITES on Facebook SITES on YouTube SITES on Twitter SITES RSS