The August 2012 issue of Money & Medals, The Newsletter for Numismatics in Britain has a review by Emily Fildes & Mary Gillespie of the new Money Gallery at the British Museum. Here's an excerpt.
Fourteen years after first opening, the Money Gallery at the British Museum has been re-interpreted with support from Citi, a financial services corporation. Emily Fildes and Mary Gillespie went to discover if the gallery fulfilled its aim of telling a 4,000-year history in just one room.
The first thing you notice about the new gallery is its striking design. The layout remains the same as the previous incarnation – cases lining each side of the room with six located in the centre to prevent it acting as a corridor to the rest of the museum – however, the new dark teal walls create an intimacy that draws the eye to the objects in the cases. The visitor is greeted by an introductory panel providing concise information about the gallery, key objects and a small map of the space illustrating the cross-gallery “zigzag” navigational route; useful, as this route is not immediately obvious.
The cases themselves have grey-scale backing (dark, mid and light-grey), each colour denoting a different story, although smaller silver objects are sometimes lost on the lightest background. Vibrant pink highlights the twelve key objects, one for each case. These are effective place-markers to guide visitors, for example the Beginning of Coinage key object is an electrum 1/6 stater – one of the oldest known coins. If this is the only object you look at, you can still grasp the key story of the case.
The gallery is arranged roughly chronologically from past to present. A timeline at the top of each case effectively leads visitors through a potted history of money over 4,000 years, associating each date with a place.
Coin spiral, showing a coin from each
member state of the United Nations
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Wayne Homren, Editor
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