Officials at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of
American History hope to raise within the next sixth months the final
$300,000 toward the $1.5 million goal to establish a permanent
The exhibition gallery will be twice the size of the current gallery.
The museum is home to the National Numismatic Collection, which
holds more than 1 million coins, medals and other numismatic artifacts
from around the world.
Only a small fraction of the collection is currently on public
display as part of the temporary “Stories on Money” exhibit in a
500-square-foot nook in the museum’s East Wing. The current exhibit
will remain on display until at least the spring of 2015 when the
permanent numismatic gallery is reopened as part of the museum’s
extensive renovations. The new exhibit will be situated in a more than
1,000-square foot area on the first floor of the museum’s West Wing.
Plans for a “Gallery of Numismatic History” are part of an overall
scheduled $120 million renovation of the west exhibition wing that
will create new galleries.
Renovations are currently under way, with some exhibit areas
already closed, a process that began last October.
In addition to the Gallery of Numismatic History, the first floor
of the West Wing, when renovated, will also house American Enterprise,
an 8,000-square foot exhibition on the nation’s economic history, and
a new Center for History Discovery. New exhibitions on the American
presidency and first ladies, as well as entertainment, sports and
popular culture, will occupy the second and third floors. Construction
will begin in 2012, and the wing is scheduled to reopen in the spring
The transformation of the museum is possible through a
public-private partnership. The federal government has committed $63
million to revitalize the infrastructure of the building.
The remaining $57 million for space preparation and programming
will be raised through private philanthropy.
Closure of earlier NNC exhibit
Items from the National Numismatic Collection for decades were on
public display on the museum’s third floor within a 3,000 square foot
gallery. The artifacts were returned to vault storage in 2005 when the
space housing the numismatics department was lost in renovations to
the center of the museum.
Completed in 2008, the phase of the multi-year, multi-stage
renovations that claimed the numismatic exhibition area included
opening up the center of the museum to the third floor and
construction of a new gallery for the Star-Spangled Banner, the flag
that inspired the National Anthem.
The Stories on Money exhibition opened June 12, 2009.
Support from dealer
David Allison, head of curatorial affairs at the Museum of
American History, told Coin World July 16 that the gallery space
dedicated to numismatic exhibition and its location on the first floor
would not have been possible without the fund-raising efforts of Jeff
Garrett, president of Mid American Rare Coin Gallery in Lexington, Ky.
Garrett, a numismatic researcher who has used the National
Numismatic Collection and the museum’s resources in his research
toward co-authoring several books, over the past year has secured
pledges from the numismatic community of $1.2 million, 80 percent of
the overall commitment needed.
To date, according to museum officials, the donor list includes
the following, but is not complete, as some donors wish to remain anonymous:
➤ Lee Minshull
➤ Bill Gales
➤ Numismatic Guaranty Corp.
➤ Stack’s Bowers Galleries
➤ Brian Hendelson
➤ Jeff Garrett
➤ Texas Numismatic Investments Inc.
➤ Dillon Gage
Allison said museum officials will now be contacting potential
donors toward raising the final $300,000.
Museum officials are not making a direct public appeal, but anyone
interested in making a tax-deductible donation may contact the museum directly.
Allison said no plans have been developed as to what numismatic
items from the National Numismatic Collection will be placed in the
dedicated numismatic gallery. The space will allow for exhibit of some
items on a lasting basis, while also moving items in and out of the
exhibit area on a rotating basis.
Rotating items would include a high proportion of paper artifacts
and others that are subject to degradation from exposure to light,
Allison said renovations will include installation of fiber-optic
lighting that will limit the light exposure for such items.
In the years following the closing of the third floor numismatic
gallery, a numismatic exhibit in addition to the Stories on Money
temporary gallery was also on public display in the Smithsonian Castle.
Privately contributed funds are supporting traveling exhibits,
some of which have appeared at American Numismatic Association conventions.
During 2011, one of the National Numismatic Collection’s two 1933
Saint-Gaudens gold $20 double eagles was seen by thousands of people
during a nine-city European exhibition underwritten by The Samlerhuset Group.
The Samlerhuset Group is a Norwegian-owned, international
mail-order company that sells traditional collectibles such as coins,
medals, stamps and paper money.
The Samlerhuset Group is also a part owner of the Berlin World
Money Fair in Berlin and of the Norwegian Mint. ■