National Postal Museum to launch exhibition celebrating flowers on stamps

Exhibition includes original stamp artwork from Postmaster General’s collection

Later this month, “Beautiful Blooms: Flowering Plants on Stamps” will launch at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum in celebration of the variety of flowering plants commemorated on U.S. postage stamps during the past 50 years.

Open from Oct. 20 until July 14, 2019, the exhibition explores the symbiotic relationship between flowering plants, bees, birds and butterflies while showcasing 33 botanical artworks from the renowned Postmaster General’s Collection, which is on long-term loan to the National Postal Museum from the U.S. Postal Service. Created in partnership with Smithsonian Gardens, “Beautiful Blooms” invites visitors to observe and appreciate not only the compelling artwork but also the creative process behind stamp design. By juxtaposing concept art and final art—and by linking larger-scale art with images on actual stamps—visitors will be able to see beyond the stamps to their meaning and messaging.

“Our goal is for visitors to enjoy, appreciate and witness the beauty associated with this incredible collection of artwork,” said Elliot Gruber, museum director. “Every stamp tells a story, and this exhibition tells the story of the design process and creativity resulting from the beauty of flowering plants on stamps.”

Featured botanical artwork, which includes 29 framed pieces and four pieces of digital art displayed interactively, are organized into seven themes:

  • Flowering Trees;
  • The Rose: Queen of Flowers;
  • Birds in the Garden;
  • Pollination;
  • Botanical Congress;
  • The Seasonal Garden; and
  • Beautification of America.


A garden-themed atrium display complements the exhibition gallery with garden furniture and live plants from Smithsonian Gardens as well as a large-scale mural triptych featuring lush garden imagery from the Smithsonian Institution’s collection of hand-painted glass lantern slides. The overall experience will transport visitors into a “relaxed but vibrant garden setting,” according to organizers

The exhibition explores the diversity of artwork used in the U.S. stamp production process, including both developmental and final art designed by illustrators using a variety of media, such as oils, pastels and digital design software. The display of stamp art in various phases of development will enable visitors of all ages to understand the role developmental artwork plays in the production of postage stamps.

“Botanical stamp art, particularly flowering plant stamp art, represents some of the most attractive artwork in the Postmaster General’s Collection,” said Calvin Mitchell, exhibition curator. “This exhibition, displayed in a garden setting, offers the general public a rare view of the stunning art work that results in the beautiful stamps appreciated by people around the world.”

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