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 It might be more helpful to imagine e-money as money that has been withdrawn from a bank account and stuffed into an envelope waiting to be spent.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.
April 27, 2016 Virtual Reality?
The history of technology is littered with the smoking wreckage of inventions that were ahead of their time or had otherwise jumped the gun on some supporting aspect of their design. Until recently, VR had been one such invention.
April 11, 2016 A bankNOTEable Woman
Representing significant women on national currency is gaining momentum all over the world. At least 12 countries currently feature historically notable women on their money…
March 30, 2016 Museum Reconstruction - Part 4
It seems a pretty strange building but now it has a solid roof, glass walls and doors. Doors? Ah, there’s your clue. It’s no skateboard park—it’s the entrance portico for the Bank of Canada Museum.
March 15, 2016 Decoding E-Money II
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.
February 1, 2016 The Gopher Hole Museum
Though packed with carefully prepared specimens, this is not a natural history museum. No, this is a social history museum housing 47 dioramas featuring 77 stuffed gophers.
December 17, 2015 What’s in Your Stocking?
Every prop in the holiday drama generally has some sort of symbolic meaning—evergreen trees: life in the dead of winter, holly: Christ’s crown of thorns, the dreidel: Jewish resistance to oppression. Money, on the other hand, only seems to symbolize itself.
September 15, 2015 The 2015 Commemorative $20 Bank Note Revealed
It’s a historic day for us as well. It isn’t every day that the Bank of Canada introduces a new commemorative note.