Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum Launches New Virtual Exhibition

Complete Collection of U.S. Postage Stamps Honoring Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Americans or Their History and Culture
May 19, 2023
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Surfer and Outrigger Canoe

44¢ Surfer and Outrigger Canoe single, 1959

The National Postal Museum’s new virtual exhibition, “Stamps Across the Pacific: A Visual History of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Migrations” is now available for viewing on the museum’s website.

The exhibition showcases the diversity and cultural significance of Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander American communities in the United States through the medium of postage stamps. It features every U.S. Postal Service-issued stamp commemorating their unique histories, identities and contributions to American culture. Additional objects from the museum’s vast collection place these migrations within the larger context of U.S. relations with their countries of origin, and they help to illustrate these communities’ experiences in the United States. Detailed descriptions give insights into the rich cultural traditions of these celebrated communities.

Native Hawaiian, Asian, and Pacific Islander immigration to the United States has a long and complex history, dating back to the mid-19th century when Chinese immigrants first arrived in search of economic opportunities. Over time, they were joined by others from countries around the Pacific Rim, including Japan, Korea and the Philippines, who began to arrive in large numbers during the 20th century.

“We are thrilled to share this new virtual exhibit with the public during Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month,” said Daniel Piazza, chief curator of the National Postal Museum. “We hope that visitors to this virtual exhibition come away with an appreciation for the diverse experiences of these communities in the United States.”

The experiences of these immigrants in America have been shaped by political and economic factors, including periodic outbreaks of violence against them and discriminatory government policies such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Despite these challenges, Native Hawaiian, Asian and Pacific Islander immigrants have formed strong communities in the United States and significantly contribute to American society in areas such as science, technology, the arts and others.

About the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum

The National Postal Museum is devoted to presenting the colorful and engaging history of the nation’s mail service and showcasing one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of stamps and philatelic material in the world. It is located at 2 Massachusetts Ave. N.E., Washington, D.C., across from Union Station. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). For more information about the Smithsonian, call (202) 633-1000.

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Marty Emery

(202) 633-5518

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