Money matters

3 June – 9 October 2016

Room 69a


Supported by

Citi logo

The Citi Money Gallery 


Recommend this exhibition

Brixton £5 note, 2015. Designed by Jeremy Deller (b. 1966) and Fraser Muggeridge Studio. Commissioned by This Ain’t Rock’n’Roll. © Jeremy Deller/Brixton Pound 2016

This free display looks at how money has affected everyday life – from the cash we carry in our pockets to financial concepts such as taxation and inflation.

Money’s central function has remained the same for thousands of years – it’s a convenient way to transfer wealth or pay for things. However, over the centuries, people’s personal relationships with money have developed and its role has evolved along with political systems. In this display, discover the world of money and your relationship with it through a selection of objects drawn from different societies through history.

This 75 Pfennig Notgeld note (emergency money) dates from 1921. It was issued in Papenburg in Germany, and features a tax official asking the character Deutscher Michel for money. The inscription below reads, ‘The money must be taken from the people, you can't shake it from the trees.’

The display will focus on several key financial concepts through history, including taxation, globalisation, inflation, assets, banking and debt. Financial terminology has always featured in idioms and everyday sayings, giving the impression that these concepts are somehow modern inventions. The display instead reveals that many micro and macroeconomic concepts and functions are actually rooted in history – from debt in Roman Egypt to inflation in revolutionary France.

Some of the display’s sections have been developed with students and community groups, including a specially commissioned piece by artist Olga Bagaeva, from Central St Martins, University of the Arts London. It represents money as a series of connections between financial institutions and how this exists unseen above the City of London. The display also looks at the physical reality of money – from official and unofficial currency creation to currency unions and even the enigmatic yet vital role of public confidence in a monetary system.

Russian beard tax token issued by Peter the Great, 1705

The money people use and the way it is used are changing all the time. From 2,000-year-old Roman bankers’ tallies to a 1950s Diners Club board game, the objects in this display will allow you to think about those changes and explore the different relationships people have with money.

Fiat Coin by Olga Bagaeva. © Olga Bagaeva