History of the museum

Money Museum in Rio de Janeiro
The establishment

The idea os creating a museum on the progress of means of payment appeared soon after Banco Central do Brasil was estabilished. The idea turned into reality following a decision of the Bank, on August 17, 1966. At that time, the work of collecting items, planning of a new space, and staffing was started.

Mr. Trigueiros, one of the founding fathers of the Money Museum, gives the reasons for its creation and name: "what banks hold as reserves, the circulating papers and the currency itself, represent valuables. Therefore, a bank museum is a valuables museum at its inception, since in its collections, besides coins and bank notes, all papers representing circulation of wealth shall be gathered.".

The Money Museum was inaugurated on August 31, 1972, in Rio de Janeiro, as part of the Sesquicentenary of the Brazilian Independence. The Facilities took part of the ground floor of a building where the former Conversion, Stabilization and Amortization Funds had been located. Today, in this building inaugurated on November 1906, and registered as of historical importance by the National Artistic and Historic Patrimony, operates the Banco Central’s Currency Management Departament.

Following the construction of the Central Bank main building in Brasília, a space was reserved for the Museum Which was eventually transfered from Rio de Janeiro. Its inauguration in the Federal Capital, on September 8, 1981, made possible the holding and exhibition of its collections in a place featuring security, largness and beauty.

The Money Museum represents a guardian of National Memory, mainly in what relates to the history of currency, Economic History and Numismatic. This objetive, in its broader meaning, follows the principles originating the Museum: the purpose of the Central Bank in preserving and disseminating part of the history and culture of different societies.

The philosophy of the Money Museum is perfectly in line with the activities of the Central Bank. Mr. Araken C. Farias, former Director of the Central Bank, in the introduction of one of the Museum’s publications, said that "together with the performance of its specific duties, including the one of issuer of currency, the Central Bank cultivates the principle of disseminating a body of cultural assets. Indeed, it is significant that an organization as fresh as this Government Agency, had adopted as its institutional symbol the figure of dobrão, an old coin of recognized presence in the country’s historical background. It is a welcomed sign of a compromise with history.".

The instruments used by the Money Museum in fulfilling its objectives are:
  • gathering, classification, collection, conservation and exhibition of coins, medals, honorary decorations, bank notes, checks, shares, and any other documents or objects which represent, or had represented in the past, circulation of wealth, both in Brazil and in other countries;

  • promotion of studies, research and conferences related to the history of currency;

  • following, through maintenance of information files, the progress of currency technology, both in Brazil and abroad;

  • disseminating, in a systemic and programmed way, through long term exhibitions, both temporary and traveling, within the country and abroad, the collections of the Museum;

  • promoting interchange with similar institutions in Brazil and abroad;

  • maintaining and preserving technical books on issues related to bank notes, coins and valuables in general;

  • disseminating, by advertising and audiovisual means, the corrency, the Central Bank, and the activities of the Museum;

  • proposing acquisition of items for the Museum collections;

  • performing research to improve the performance of the activities of guardianship, handling, classification and preservation of items, and to improve the planning and establishment of exhibitions.

Facilities

The Money Museum is located on the first underground floor of the Central Bank Main Building, in Brasília.

The administration facilities include operating rooms, a specialized library, a classification room, and a vault with security devices where the collected items are kept.

The area open to the public, the aim of individual’s interests and attention, takes 1,300 m2. Thi area lodges the following main attractions: Brazil Room, World Room, Gold Room, Brazilian Central Bank Issuance Room, and a 1937 minting mill used for the distribuition of medals as gifts to visitors.

In the Brazil Room, coins, bank notes and other printed valuables formely circulating within the country are exhibited. Part of the 493 years of history of means of payment and investiment are disposed in a course related to the Colonial and United Kingdom periods. Among the items exhibited, photographic reproductions of works of art and other pictures strengthen the understanding of the article in a historical, economic or social context.

In the World Room, visitors travel around 55 countries represented by their monetary systems and photographs featuring widely known images of different regions of the world.

The Gold Room is specially appealing to the general public, particularly to foreigners. There are eight displays showing the different forms of gold: in natura; the foundry instruments; coin and investment gold; gold used in medals, signet seals and decoration; gold delivery ingots, traded in international gold exchanges; the electrolytic process of refining; and among several ingots and nuggets, the largest nugget ever found in Brazil. This piece weights about 60 kilos and was found in Serra Pelada, State of Pará, in 1983. It is considered, for its geological features, one of the rarest nuggets in the world.

The "Central Bank Issuance" Room, inaugurated on March, 1997, exhibits Brazilian coins and notes issued since 1964, the date of the Central Bank establishment, until today. At each new notes and coins issuance the collection of this room is added with fresh specimens wich help explain, particularly to children and foreigners, some current aspects of the Brazilian currency.

Donated by the Brazilian Mint to the Money Museum, the Minting Mill manufactured by Schuler, features a minting capacity of up to 110 pieces a minute and was in operation from 1937 to 1973.

In addition to such rooms, the Museum has areas for temporary exhibitions and for ancillary activities dedicated to students. The room used for the work with schools is equipped with television and videocassette.

Exhibitions

Since its establishment, the Museum has featured permanent and temporary exhibitions, including exhibitions outside the premises of the Central Bank. The objectives of such exhibitions include: developing themes within the school’s programs; notifying the issuance of bank notes and coins; stressing the mission of the Central Bank as the issuing body and the main player in monetary policy; disseminating among the public important topics through bank notes, coins, medals, etc.; exhibiting items of the collection which deserve attention for their rarity, beauty, curiosity and exoticism; attending the request of scholars in the exploration of data related to Numismatic aspects; disseminating technological aspects of the minting process; disclosing the life cycle of money, since its inception to its retiring; and unfolding all the possibilities envisaged as the Museum objectives.

Collections

The Money Museum policy for acquisition of items was as started before its inauguration in 1972. Items previously belonging to the Amortization Fund, the Brazilian Mint and the Brazilian Gold-Reserve were incorporated to the Museum’s collections. The first purchases refered to closed collections, without selection of items. In later acquisitions, however, the selection of items was used as a way to complete already existing sets, or to include items of relevant numismatic value.

The collections of the Money Museum includes about 125,000 items, of Brazilian and foreign origin, encompassing from ancient to modern means of payment.The memory of the progress of different forms of humankind wealth is represented.

They include decoretions, medals, historic documents, and private and government securities, such as debentures, shares, bond, checks, policies, and credit cards.

The collections include also printed and minted valuable such as jettons and signet seals. In addition, the collections include documents and objects related to the technological progress of minting, such as casts for bank notes, dice, color studies, monetary discs, original drawings of bank notes and coins. Gold is an important item in the collections, since the Central Bank, as depository of the gold reserve of the country, features in the Museum the appropriate space to show the metal’s beauty, rarity and use. The exhibition of gold refining, marketing and investment instruments attracts the attention of visitors.

However, in the field of valuables, the most significant link between past and present hinges on the history of the coins and bank notes. Indeed the coins, along the last 2,500 years of civilization, occupied a place of importance among valuables created by mankind. In addition to the attraction stemming from its beauty, coins represent an important contribution to humankind when it reflects the different cultural aspects of a people. Several famous ancient buildings and sculptures, wich have disappeared by the action of time or despoilment by man, find in coins their only pictorial reminiscence. Political, economic and social history of a given time may, through coins, be safely both deducted and interpreted. This small piece of metal, inexhaustible source of authentic information, may throw light on economic, industrial and scientific conditions, on religion, education, government, the progress of arts and on the different aspects of our civilization.

Money is, therefore, the original reason for the Money Museum. Its vaults house bank and coins marked by expressions of beauty, memories, emotions and victories.

By transmitting the usage and custom of different peoples, coins denote their mystic and mythical strength. The origin itself of the word money is an indication of such influence: it derives from the goddess Juno Moneta, in which temple, in Rome, coins were minted. In ancient Greece, minting workshops were installed in religious temples and the coins were minted with figures of gods. Still today, the use of coins as a talisman is common in rituals of sects and religions and in foretelling games.

The habit of turists to throw coins in fountains and wells is very common.

To reseach, decipher and enable its numismatic collections to be appreciated, understood and lived, are the inescapable missions of the Money Museum .