This exhibition is in fabrication
The last time I blogged about our upcoming travelling exhibition, Decoding E-Money, I described the process we went through in order to choose a name. We were a little late in getting that blog out, so plenty had already happened on the interpretational planning front by then. But reading about exhibition content spreadsheets and artifact tombstone labels really is a big snore. So this time I thought I’d wait until we had something more exciting and concrete to show you: actual prototypes, finalized designs—that sort of thing.
And now I do.
But just before I take that leap, let’s talk content. This has been an extremely challenging exhibition to develop. We are taking, for us, the unprecedented step of interpreting something that is not only current but continually changing. We do feature over 60 historical artifacts, nevertheless this time the interpretation of history was a relative piece of cake. Interpreting the present or even the recent past, however, was anything but. The subject matter is often in a state of flux where nothing is cut and dried and much is open to dispute.
Where does the money go when you pay with a debit card? Or how do we describe the highly complicated steps of processing a Bitcoin transaction? Luckily we have an office tower full of financial experts on hand and we’ve been gratefully relying upon them to help us get the content right. Though very happy to help, it was a little like the economists and analysts spoke Finnish and we spoke Hindi. It took all sorts of meetings and about a square kilometre of whiteboard space before we got all the content to a satisfactory place. That place is somewhere between the comprehension level of a clever 12 year-old and that of a central bank economist—thankfully closer to the former.
And now we have someplace to put all this content. In consultation with our own designers, the exhibition development team has been working hard to produce a presentation whose visual character and immersive qualities reflect the frenetic and high-tech world of electronic money transfer. Much of the content will be available via touch panels. This is not only the natural choice to reflect the modernity of the material, but crucial when working with content that can and will change over the life of the exhibition. It’s just a whole lot simpler to change text on a computer than on a printed panel.
Some of the interactive systems are fully functional; some are still in the paper and tape stages. The big display units are nearly ready and most of their winking lights and animated projections are operative. It’s pretty exciting and looks great. Over the next few weeks we will have a fully functioning exhibition ready for final testing and tweaking. Stay in touch.
The Museum Blog
Teaching art with currency
From design to final product, bank notes and coins can be used to explore and teach art, media and process.
New Acquisitions—2022 Edition
It’s a new year—the perfect time to look back at some notable artifacts the Museum added to the National Currency collection from 2022. Each object has a unique story to tell about Canada’s monetary and economic history.
Money: it’s a question of trust
The dollars and cents we use wouldn’t be worth anything to anybody if we didn’t have confidence in it. No matter if it’s gold or digits on a hard drive, public trust is the secret ingredient in a successful currency.
The day Winnipeg was invaded
People on the street were randomly stopped and searched, and some were even arrested and imprisoned in an internment camp. Even German marks replaced Canadian currency in circulation—in the form of If Day propaganda notes.
The imagery on the Bank of Canada’s 1935 note series depicts the country’s rich industrial history.
Army bills: Funding the War of 1812
In 1812, British North America had no banks and little currency. With the prospect of war drying up supplies of coins, the government of Lower Canada decided to issue legal tender notes called “army bills” to pay for troops and supplies.
Between tradition and technology
What was proposed was a complete about-face from the philosophy behind recent security printing. If photocopiers could easily deal with the colours and designs of the current series, then the next series should be bold and simple.