December 10, 2009
First, we heard that bestselling writer Dan Brown visited the Smithsonian for book research. Then, when “The Lost Symbol” came out, we checked his version of the institution for accuracy. Now, in the wake of the book’s publication, the National Postal Museum has combed its collection and published an online exhibition on the theme, “The Lost Symbol on U.S. Postage Stamps.”
Curators selected about 50 stamps featuring images related to Brown’s fast-paced thriller set in Washington D.C. “As I read the book, I kept thinking, there is a stamp of that scene,” says chief curator of philately Cheryl Ganz. “The surprising discovery was how many stamps exist of sites in Washington D.C.”
Included are artistic renderings of Dulles Airport, where the book’s main character Robert Langdon lands; the Smithsonian Castle and the Capitol Rotunda, which are described at length; and 14 presidents who were prominent Masons, since the plot delves into the history of Freemasonry.
“I hope visitors see stamps as a creative way to illustrate a story,” says Ganz. “We never gave away the plot, and at the same time, someone who had not read the book could still enjoy the exhibit because of the historical significance of the images and the beauty of the engravings and art.”
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