Preparations are on target for the beginning of construction in
October of new and revitalized exhibits to enhance the visitors center
and tour at the Philadelphia Mint.
The new exhibit areas and displays are to be put in place and
unveiled to the public sometime in the spring, according to Tom
Jurkowsky, director of the U.S. Mint’s Office of Public Affairs.
Designs for the new interactive, video and static displays, with
audio augmentation, are currently being finalized by Quatrefoil, the
Laurel, Md., firm contracted by the U.S. Mint under a $3.9 million
accord inked on Aug. 18, 2010.
Quatrefoil was selected from among 10 firms that submitted bids under
the United States Mint’s request for proposals.
Abbie Chessler, Quatrefoil’s co-founding partner and head of design,
said Aug. 4 that the firm has been working closely with the U.S.
Mint’s historian, curatorial staff and other Mint personnel on the
exhibit design process as well as determining which of the “heritage
assets” currently on display will remain and what other items might be substituted.
“Heritage assets” represent coins, medals, models, documents and
other historical items associated with production of money in general,
and by the U.S. Mint and Philadelphia Mint specifically.
Areas may be closed to public traffic to accommodate exhibit
installation for periods of time, still to be determined, between now
and the time the new exhibits are unveiled in 2012, Chessler said.
Those closures will likely take place during the slow winter months to
minimize public disruption, she said.
No details on exhibited coins
Coin World asked whether any of the 1933 Saint-Gaudens gold $20
double eagles or Proof 2000-W Sacagawea .9999 fine gold dollars
currently in nonpublic storage at the Mint’s Fort Knox Gold Bullion
Depository in Kentucky would be among the items on display. Jurkowsky
said none of those coins are currently scheduled to be on exhibit.
The Mint holds 12 2000-W Sacagawea gold dollars that traveled aboard
a July 1999 space shuttle mission and 10 1933 Saint-Gaudens double
eagles whose ownership was the focus of a federal jury trial in
Philadelphia in July 2011.
Jurkowsky said U.S. Mint officials will determine whether any of the
heritage assets currently on display that will not be part of the new
exhibits might be exhibited elsewhere.
While the renovated, redesigned and enhanced visitors areas will
still include a self-guided tour of the production floor viewed from
the third floor, Chessler said the intent is to make the experience
more enjoyable for the more than 250,000 people who visit the
Philadelphia facility annually. The viewing area is 40 feet above the
Enhanced exhibits will also be displayed throughout the first floor
lobby and second floor mezzanine.
The Philadelphia Mint was closed to public access following the Sept.
11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States.
Restricted tours pre-arranged through congressional representatives
were gradually phased in within the next two years, with the same day,
self-guided tours returned in 2005.
Philadelphia Mint highlights
Among the current highlights that will continue to be featured in the
expansive lobby area of the fourth Philadelphia Mint are the seven
glass mosaic panels — two oblong and five round — executed under the
direction of Louis B. Tiffany for display at the third Philadelphia
Mint on Spring Garden Street upon its opening in 1901.
The Favrile glass panels, made by designs from William B. Van Ingen,
illustrate the ancient Roman methods and processes of coinage and were
originally commissioned by the U.S. Mint at a cost of $40,000. The
seven panels were appraised at $420,000 in 1971, and have not been
The two oblong pieces measure 49.5 inches high and 166.25 inches
wide, while the round panels are 59.5 inches in diameter.
The figures of children are used in the Mint’s glass panels
illustrating the ancient Roman coinage processes of melting,
granulating, annealing or drying, weighing, stamping and finishing.
Their use was suggested by a wall painting unearthed from the Casa dei
Vettii during the excavations at Pompeii in 1895.
Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79, burying Pompeii. The Vettian mural,
thought to have been done in the first half century of the Christian
era, shows plump, winged cupids performing the ancient coinage methods.
The glass mosaics were removed from the third Philadelphia Mint for
permanent display beginning in June 1971 at the fourth Mint. The newer
facility, located at Fifth and Arch streets, opened in 1969.
Chessler said all of the glass panels will undergo conservation and
cleaning. Special lighting — which the panels currently do not have —
will be added to the area to bring out the enhanced brilliance of each
Other items currently on public display at the Philadelphia Mint are:
➤ The first coining press, used to strike the nation’s first coins in 1792.
➤ The key to the first Philadelphia Mint and the Mint Deed signed by
President Andrew Jackson. A chair and boot scraper from the first
Philadelphia Mint are among other artifacts on display.
➤ The preserved body of Peter the Mint eagle, a real bald eagle who
made the first United States Mint his home. Today’s Mint artists still
study Peter when working on new eagle designs.
➤ The gold medal presented to Gen. Anthony Wayne for his capture of
Stony Point during the Revolutionary War.
Anyone interested in visiting the current exhibits at the
Philadelphia Mint can access the tour information from the link on the
U.S. Mint website at