Greetings from Washington

From souvenirs, to marketing devices, to the past equivalent of an “I arrived safely” text, postcards tell stories about people and places. Greetings from Washington examines postcards of D.C.—from their golden age at the turn of the twentieth century to the vintage glamour of mid-century graphics and beyond.

Since the late nineteenth century, postcards have helped transform the American landscape into an attractive commodity by allowing its image to be reproduced, purchased, and easily viewed by all classes of people. Postcards set expectations about how places should look and trained people how to look at them.

Vintage postcards offer a view of the past that is different from that captured in traditional photographs and through photojournalism. The postcards of Washington in this exhibition demonstrate how postcard aesthetics and uses, as well as commercial portrayals of Washington, have changed over time.

Organized in cooperation with the Albert H. Small Center for National Capital Area Studies.