The new Museum’s first special exhibition
Unlike renovating a house, when we closed the Museum for its four-year re-invention, we couldn’t just “stay” at another museum until the water got turned back on. Or could we have? In fact, once the renovation was under way, that’s essentially what we did. Though we didn’t sleep on anybody’s couch, we did create a travelling exhibitions program to keep the virtual doors open while the actual doors were closed. We stayed at museums from Kitimat, B.C., to Gimli, MB, and from Timmins, ON, to Chicoutimi, QC, and we still have a few bookings available for 2019. Now that we are again back in our own house, we’ve invited one of our wandering exhibitions home for a visit: Decoding E-Money.
As the title suggests, this exhibition aims to remove the confusion about what exactly e‑money is. It’s important to make the distinction between what people think of as e‑money and what, in fact, it is. In a backgrounder on its website, the Bank of Canada defines e‑money as
…monetary value that is stored and transferred electronically through a variety of means—a mobile phone, tablet, contactless card (or smart card), computer hard drive or servers.
Despite their fully electronic environments, debit cards, e‑mail transfers and credit cards are not examples of e‑money. They are methods of payment that follow electronic pathways along which transaction information travels. It might be more helpful to imagine e-money as money that has been withdrawn from a bank account and stuffed into an envelope waiting to be spent. The “envelope” just happens to be an electronic device.
The version of e‑money we are most concerned with in this exhibition is cryptocurrency and, specifically, the ever-newsworthy Bitcoin. You can purchase it using your national currency, and it can be sold for currency, but in between it acts all by itself as a token of exchange that exists entirely online. Bitcoin doesn’t actually meet the criteria for a currency, but its underpinning technology, called the blockchain, is ground-breaking—a system that allows for secure transactions without third-party oversight. We studied it for you so that you can explore it too.
Like its mother museum, Decoding E‑money has a great number of interactive features. It is, fittingly, a very digital exhibition, with games, a timeline, videos and interpretive content all accessed using touch panels and computer consoles. The only significant part of the display that is not digital is the artifact zone, a breath of old-fashioned air in a very modern exhibition. Here, you will see money that was, in its day, as difficult for some to accept as digital currencies are today. To help visitors explore in-depth information about these artifacts, we provide you with a book, an appropriately low-tech medium.
So please drop by the Museum and check out Decoding E money. It will be in our special exhibitions space until May 6, 2018.
May 28, 2018 Canadian Tulip Festival 2018
At first glance, you might wonder why a flower festival is a good fit for a money–themed museum. It’s worth a little history lesson to tell you why.
May 16, 2018 Not Your Run-of-the-Mill School Visit
Our visitors were students from the Curatorial Studies Graduate Diploma Program at Ottawa’s Carleton University.
March 27, 2018 Fakes, Forgeries and Phonies
During the break for the English school board, the Bank’s Currency Department teamed up with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to give visitors a chance to handle some modern counterfeit bank notes.
March 14, 2018 The Bank-NOTEable Woman is Here!
Even if you’re not familiar with Viola Desmond’s story, it will likely become clear that the theme of this note is human rights and social justice.
February 5, 2018 Winterlude Weekends
So we decided to provide some winter-themed indoor activities for families out and about during Winterlude who’d like to either warm up or lessen their disappointment at not being able to skate.
January 30, 2018 Before the Erebus
Now you might wonder just how a museum specializing in economics and currency expects to interpret the history of a legendary arctic explorer—through money, of course.
January 17, 2018 While in Oxford…
The meat of the traditional museum experience is found in Block B. Here you will see vintage radio sets, encrypting teletype machines, more Enigma machines and a working reproduction of the “Bombe.”