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Wish You Were Here! Vintage Postcards from Washington, D.C.

“Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.” Courtesy DC Public Library, Washingtoniana Division

Related Programs

Tuesday, Aug 8, 2017: "Passport Destination: Taipei"
Thursday, Aug 31, 2017: "Greetings from Hometown Washington, DC"

About Exhibition

Travelers from around the world flock to the nation’s capital to experience extraordinary sites: stately buildings that house the government; commemorative structures that honor people and events; and grand institutions that celebrate the arts, humanities, and sciences.

Wish You Were Here! Vintage Postcards from Washington, D.C. takes visitors on a visual journey through the capital city as it was illustrated through postcards from the early-to-mid 20th century. Organized by AIA|DC, the exhibition features over 300 vintage postcards reproduced from collections held at the DC Public Library, Historical Society of Washington, D.C., and National Building Museum. The exhibition highlights sightseeing, transportation, street scenes, museum and government buildings, commercial establishments, sacred spaces, and parks.

The exhibition is divided into six sections: Traveling to Washington; Commencing the Adventure; Navigating the City; Exploring Iconic Landmarks; Discovering Local Places; and Remembering the Journey.

Curator’s Statement

Wish You Were Here! takes visitors on a visual journey through Washington, DC via vintage postcards from the early 20th century. The exhibition is not a history lesson on postcards, nor a complete story about each building or place represented. Rather, the exhibition offers an intimate perspective on the nation’s capital as a sightseer’s destination with many points of interest. The experience invites visitors to step into the world of each postcard and imagine the essence of its place and time.

The exhibition is partly inspired by an interest in cities and urban life, a love of travel, and the notion of time, as well as Lost Washington, D.C., a book by Paul Kelsey Williams which highlights extraordinary buildings in the capital city that no longer exist. Scott Clowney, a resident of Washington, DC since 2004, is Exhibitions Manager at the District Architecture Center. He is an architecture enthusiast, exhibitions specialist, and visual artist originally from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Send Us Your Postcards!

The spirit of mailing postcards is alive and well. Our newest exhibition features postcards that capture moments, places, and people from DC history. We want YOU to be a part of it.

Traveling this summer? Do you have family or friends in faraway places? Send us a postcard! Reach out to folks and ask them to send a postcard to DC from their neck of the woods. Include a note about your adventure or the landmark and landscape on the postcard.

Send postcards to our offices at the District Architecture Center. If you can’t send a postcard through snail mail, use an app like Postagram or TouchNote.

Mailing Address: District Architecture Center | 421 7th Street NW | Washington, DC 20004 | USA

Credits

Organized by AIA|DC for the Suman Sorg Gallery in cooperation with the DC Public Library, Historical Society of Washington, D.C., and National Building Museum.

Special thanks to Jerry A. McCoy, DC Public Library, Washingtoniana Division; Jessica Smith, Historical Society of Washington, D.C.; and Nancy Bateman, National Building Museum.

Conceived, curated, and designed by Scott Clowney, Assoc. AIA

Text edits by Mary Fitch, AICP, Hon. AIA

Installation by Rostin Rostai

Made possible with generous support from ABC Imaging.

Exhibition designed and modeled in ArchiCAD19, courtesy of Graphisoft.

Images

“Entrance to Washington from Virginia Showing New Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Washington, D.C.” The Historical Society of Washington, D.C.
“Entrance to Washington from Virginia Showing New Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Washington, D.C.” The Historical Society of Washington, D.C.

“Post Office – Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.” Willard R. Ross Postcard Collection, Courtesy DC Public Library, Washingtoniana Division
“Post Office – Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.” Willard R. Ross Postcard Collection, Courtesy DC Public Library, Washingtoniana Division

“The Cascades, Meridian Hill Park, Washington, D.C.” Courtesy of the National Building Museum
“The Cascades, Meridian Hill Park, Washington, D.C.” Courtesy of the National Building Museum

“Greetings from Washington, D.C.” Jerry A. McCoy Postcard Collection, Courtesy DC Public Library, Washingtoniana Division
“Greetings from Washington, D.C.” Jerry A. McCoy Postcard Collection, Courtesy DC Public Library, Washingtoniana Division