Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum Director Allen Kane to retire

Allen Kane, director of the National Postal Museum (NPM), has announced he will retire in January 2017.

Kane became NPM director in 2002, after serving more than 30 years with the United States Postal Service (USPS) in a variety of senior leadership positions. Among his proudest accomplishments was his management of the Gulf War Crisis Team, which ensured the successful delivery of 1.13 million kilograms of mail to U.S. troops every day.


In his 14-year tenure at the Smithsonian NPM, Kane has overseen many exhibitions and public programs while maintaining the museum as a world-renowned research resource. His most notable accomplishment was the development and opening of the William H. Gross Gallery in 2013, which doubled the size of the NPM, making it the largest philatelic centre in the world.

His ability to run a cost-effective operation using a large number of volunteers to supplement a small staff resulted in what’s described as “enormous progress” for the NPS, including “unprecedented brand image and public relations outreach.”

Throughout Kane’s tenure, the NPM exhibited many rarely seen and internationally famous stamps as well as important collections such as the Benjamin Miller Collection and the Royal Collection of Queen Elizabeth II. He arranged for the long-term loan of the U.S. Postmaster General’s collection and for the acquisition of the world’s rarest stamp, the British Guiana one-cent magenta.

What’s more, the award-winning website Arago made its debut during Kane’s tenure; it provides unprecedented access to the philately and postal history collections of the NPM and encourages expert involvement in their curation. The NPM has also developed website features for acquiring oral histories of postal workers and for documenting the “incredibly broad and robust mailing industry,” according to the museum’s representatives.

“Allen strongly encouraged research and educational programs with sister Smithsonian museums, readily welcomed school groups, initiated the building of the Byrne educational loft, and began the Maynard Sundman lecture series.”

Most recently, he led a major research effort to tell the story of “America’s Mailing Industry,” partnering with mailing industry associations, the USPS and hundreds of companies in the industry. The research project launched as a virtual exhibition and will also include a physical exhibition at the museum in Washington, D.C.

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