A visitor looking at prehistoric coins

Room 68

Money

About 2000 BC – present day

Visiting the gallery

Opening times

Daily 10.00–17.30 (20.30 on Fridays)

Free daily eye-opener tour

14.15 in gallery, 30–40 minute tour

The history of money can be traced back more than 4,000 years.

During this time, money has taken many different forms, from coins to banknotes, shells to mobile phone payments.

This gallery displays the history of money around the world. From the earliest evidence to the latest developments in digital technology, money has been an important part of human societies. Looking at the history of money gives us a way to understand the history of the world.

Gallery facts

  • From the earliest evidence, to the latest developments in digital technology, money has been an important part of human societies. 
  • Cities and empires traded without using coins for over 2,000 years.
  • As well as having purchasing power, coins also have the power to send messages through the images or writing on them.
  • New technologies during the industrial revolution enabled increased production of coins, and developments in banking led to a greater use of paper money.
  • The idea of borrowing money is as old as money itself. Although sometimes criticised, borrowing has in many countries become a normal part of the way people manage their money.
  • There has been a huge rise in consumer credit in the modern world, and many people use borrowed money alongside cash as a way to make payments.

Accessibility

  • A large print guide is available. 
  • Tactile and braille guide available.
  • Some objects in this collection feature on the British Sign Language guide handset, available from the audio guide desk in the Great Court.
  • Some objects in this collection feature on the audio description guide, available from the audio guide desk in the Great Court.
  • Step-free access. 
  • View sensory map (opens in new window).

Visit Accessibility at the Museum for more information.