National Numismatic Collection curator brings more items into view

Smithsonian working on rotating items within numismatic gallery
By , Coin World
Published : 07/11/14
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Ellen Feingold has only been curator of the National Numismatic Collection in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History since June 30, but already she’s working toward bringing more of the collection into the public’s eye.

Among the targets at the top of her list is returning more of the Josiah K. Lilly gold coin collection to public display after its complete removal in 2004 to accommodate extensive renovations that eliminated the space where the collection was on exhibit. Feingold said she would also like to expand on her numismatic efforts initiated at the British Museum, creating similar exhibits at the Smithsonian and possible joint exhibitions.

Feingold is an experienced historian, curator, numismatist, and educator who served in 2013 as a volunteer with the National Numismatic Collection.

Feingold’s most recent assignment was as project coordinator for the Money in Africa Project in the Department of Coins and Medals at the British Museum. In this role, Feingold she conducted innovative research on the history of currency counterfeiting in the British Empire and co-curated a display on mobile money in Africa for the Citi Money Gallery.

Collection interpretation

Jennifer Locke Jones, chair and curator of armed forces history and numismatics for the Smithsonian, said she supports integrating numismatic elements from other collections dispersed within the Smithsonian’s matrix of museums. In the case of armed forces history, that includes examples of the Medal of Honor and other military medals and heraldry, short snorters and other numismatic-related items.

Jones said she also supports NNC items being loaned out within the Smithsonian family of museums for public display. Jones said NNC curators will meet with colleagues in other Smithsonian museums to consider inclusion of items for temporary exhibits or permanent gallery exhibition,

Jones said more funding is being allocated toward the Smithsonian Institution’s numismatic endeavors than in previous years.

In a telephone interview July 2, Feingold and Jones explained the museum’s efforts to digitize items within the NNC for online research, opening up the collection for extensive historic research by collectors and academics, and publication of historical research for educational purposes. Feingold said among her efforts will be examining currency counterfeiting in America under British rule.

Of the more than 1.6 million objects alone within the National Numismatic Collection, much of that material has never been seen on display for the public, Feingold said. She said she hopes to rotate more of the material through the numismatic gallery to excite visitors.

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