Having met a project budget of $1.5 million for a new Gallery of
Numismatic History, officials at the Smithsonian Institution’s
National Museum of American History are seeking additional funding to
enhance future displays featuring the National Numismatic Collection.
“Should additional funding become available, other features could
include a discovery cart with collections for hands-on learning and a
custom designed vault door for the gallery entrance,” according to
museum officials. “Exhibition elements will be updated to keep the
experience fresh and exciting.”
Museum officials are also working toward incorporating a display
case to exhibit new acquisitions and pieces placed on long-term loan
from collectors and other sources.
The 1,000-square-foot gallery is part of the museum’s overall West
Wing renovations. The gallery space, triple what is currently devoted
to numismatics, is scheduled to be ready for the public in July 2015.
Museum officials project that the gallery will be able to
accommodate 1 million visitors annually. Access to the exhibit area
will be closest from the Constitution Avenue entrance.
The National Numismatic Collection, containing nearly 1.6 million
objects, is the largest numismatic collection in North America and one
of the largest in the world. Coins, medals and decorations in the
collection total more than 450,000; paper money accounts for another
1.1 million pieces. As a whole, the collection highlights the entire
numismatic history of the world.
The Gallery of Numismatic History’s six display cases, covered with
Plexiglas, are designed to exhibit small objects.
Each case will be accompanied by pull-out discovery drawers
positioned below, to expand the number of objects displayed, according
to museum officials. The contents of the display drawers will be
rotated in and out regularly.
The objects will be secured so that they can be viewed, but not
individually handled or removed, by the public.
The six display cases are designed to permit double-sided viewing of
coins, medals, tokens, paper money and other numismatic objects. Each
display case will be dedicated to specific themes tracing the
evolution of money, its development and uses.
Representations of Liberty, symbols of national strength and related
motifs will be among the topics explored. Items to be represented will
include primitive money, such as Yap stones; specie; and technological
advances, incorporating such items as credit cards and virtual currency.
Digitized BEP archives
The Smithsonian has also undertaken an extensive archival project to
digitize thousands of pages of proofs from the Bureau of Engraving and
Printing into high-resolution images.
“Since 1863, certified proofs allowed the Bureau of Engraving and
Printing to examine every intaglio printing plate before it was placed
in production,” according to museum officials. These include certified
proofs of paper currency, bonds, revenue stamps, checks, and more.
The newly digitized images are cataloged and loaded online, with
volunteers contributing descriptions for each digitized image. The
Smithsonian Digital Volunteer Transcription Service can be accessed
online at https://transcription.si.edu.
Visit the NNC at americanhistory.si.edu/numismatics/.