Today, the United States Postal Service begins selling one of the coolest stamps it’s ever made: the National Museum of African American History and Culture Forever stamp.
“Black history is inseparable from American history, and the Black experience represents a profound and unique strand of the American story,” the USPS said in a news release. “This stamp issuance recognizes the richness of that experience by celebrating the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.”
The USPS has printed 15 million Forever stamps featuring a photograph of the museum–a three-tiered ziggurat clad in ornate bronze latticework. Designed by David Adjaye, Phil Freelon, Max Bond, and SmithGroup, the structure is one of the most celebrated buildings of the 21st century for using history to inform its design.
The USPS began issuing stamps in 1847 and since then, over 5,000 different subjects have appeared on them. A citizen-advisory commission–which includes artists, curators, professors, collectors, and writers–recommends ideas for new stamps to the Postmaster General, who ultimately approves what goes into circulation.
“The Stamp Program aims to please a wide variety of interests and serves to illustrate the vast diversity in America for the world to enjoy,” a USPS spokesperson tells Co.Design.
We’re glad architecture and design is part of the mix. The last time a Smithsonian institution appeared on a stamp, it was 1946. The design work of Charles and Ray Eames appeared on stamps, in 2008, and in 2011, the USPS celebrated game-changing industrial designers. Of the Forever stamps available today, the NMAAHC is one of five architectural options, the other being four D.C. monuments in the Gifts of Friendship series, which celebrates Japan’s gift of cherry and dogwood trees to the United States. So the next time you have to send a letter, share a little architectural history while you’re at it.