Europe has thousands of Central Bank museums; nearly all of them are closed due to the virus. Almost all of the central banks and even some large commercial banks also have museums, collections and libraries. Sadly, most of them are also closed. For a collector, you can spend hours and even days starting at the museum and then searching through old records and documents. Some banks have done a good job putting images of their collections online. The Netherlands Bank has uploaded nearly 50,000 items, but they don’t provide a lot of explanation or text to provide context of their history. The Austrian Central Bank maintains a great museum. The highlight is a 31kg gold coin. The museum doesn’t translate very well to the web. On of the most student friendly money museums is at the Bank of England. And with special permission, a visit to the extensive library at the Bank in London.
Other European Central Bank Museums
The Belgium Central Bank and the European Central Bank in Frankfurt have added virtual tours. The Bank of Belgium’s online presence is extensive but more an image repository than a historical presentation. The virtual tour is nice but the central bank museum is a bit basic and targeting students. The European Central Bank has built a phenomenal visitor’s center that shows not only the history of the EuroZone but also the history of the site where the new ECB building was constructed. There is a virtual tour and even a way to view it with virtual reality. It is certainly less about the banknotes and more about the politics to create the single currency, but it is definitely interesting.
There are a couple other museums (and websites) for money collectors to investigate. Citeco Museum or Economics in France looks pretty interesting. The Deutschemark museum and its extensive art collection are also accessible online.
In this time of COVID, we can all gain some access to these museums, but once we have more freedom to return to normal travel, we should all visit and donate to these museums. They are an integral part of our history.
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