Follow the Money -- to a Museum in NYC

September 26, 2015

Follow the Money -- to a Museum in NYCThe "America in Circulation" exhibit features the collection of Mark Shenkman.

By Anne Kadet, The Wall Street Journal

Every city has its beloved art museums, venerable historical societies and treasured libraries. But how many towns offer multiple exhibits for folks who want to gawk at money? There’s no place like New York.

Those with more refined sensibilities may not understand, but some of us just love money, period. My favorite possession may be my giant bowl of coins. It’s far more beautiful and interesting than anything it could buy.

Happily, for the cash obsessed, there are several local spots where one can see a lot more dough than what’s in one’s wallet, starting with the Museum of American Finance, a 26-year-old institution largely funded by Wall Street firms and wealthy donors.

A trip to the museum, housed in a lovely old bank building on Wall Street, starts with a big currency exhibit—three walls plastered with cash! Dedicated to American moolah, the display even includes a beaver pelt and a 2007 ViVOpay 4500 credit card reader.

Turns out, until 1929, when everything went to hell, U.S. bills were colorful and whimsical, featuring images like a naked devil in a top hat and what looks like a cowboy posing with the Virgin Mary and a small, friendly dog.

Spokeswoman Kristin Aguilera said the most popular display at the museum, which is designed to educate the public about finance, is the $2 million solid-gold Monopoly set.

A history-of-the-markets exhibit includes old stock certificates, ticker tape machines and groovy technology like a 1981 Quotron terminal. A display dedicated to commodities futures, meanwhile, cunningly represents the livestock industry with a plastic pork belly. Oh, money—thy incarnations are wondrous and infinite...


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