The Money Museum offers a distinctly interactive experience that draws on multimedia technology to display its collection. Its unconventional museography is aimed at creating an alluring environment that ensures visitor participation and promotes knowledge building.
The Money Museum is organised into nine thematic rooms that showcase the Banco de Portugal’s numismatic collection and other objects, enhanced by multimedia experiences to engage visitors.
The themes range from pre-monetary conventions, money in Portugal and around the world throughout the centuries, manufacturing coins and banknotes, the role of money in our lives and the tasks of the central bank.
TOUCH / What is Money?
At the Museum's reception area, a passage from a text by Charles Dickens poses the question confronting the public throughout the visit: 'What is money?'
In this room, the gold bar (touch-accessible) is framed by the door of the former gold vault, and is in stark contrast with the "inhumane" picture of the Brazilian goldmines projected onto a large-scale screen.
BARTERING / This is Money
A statue of Hermes, the Greek god of trade and barter, addresses the visitors, proposing a direct exchange of goods for other forms of money. The array of display cases placed around the figure reveals exotic forms of money and pre-monetary currencies, deriving from different cultures and eras, demonstrating that money is a universal convention.
CONVENTIONS / The Origin of Money
Highlighted in a film are the first types of coin accepted in the Western and Eastern worlds, rendered in 3D images. Alongside this display, a hands-on large-scale multimedia device allows visitors to navigate through time and space and discover relevant facts about the history of money, and thus go through some fiat conventions.
Rare examples of Greek, Roman, and Chinese coins that are part of the Museum's collection, are also shown in this room.
COINS WITH HISTORY / The Treasure Room
A forest of tubes encloses and gives voice to the most representative pieces of the collection. Rare items tell bits of stories, of episodes immortalised on the faces of coins minted in the Hellenic world or in the territory of the Iberian Peninsula.
Numismatic treasures can be seen in the display case, bearing witness to Islamic influence, the epic of the Discoveries, to coins minted with Brazilian gold, or to unique objects like a Japanese oban.
An interactive ludic video wall mirrors the visitors while they manoeuvre, rotate, and enlarge the coins on display.
THROUGH THE AGES/ The Genealogy of Money and Banking
A winding display case reveals items representing the history of coinage and paper money in Portuguese territory until the advent of the Euro. Various objects allow visitors to get acquainted with Banco de Portugal, from its foundation to the present day.
In addition, six screens present the iconography of money. A virtual vantage point overlooks the city of Lisbon and pinpoints the location of the central banks of the Eurozone and of Portuguese-speaking countries. At the back of the room, the building's distinctive curved window gazes over Praça do Município.
MAKING MONEY / Production of Coins and Banknotes
In a room devoted to the cycle and the history of money production, visitors will come across a multitude of ores, machines, printing plates, sketches, and artistic designs deriving from the origin of coins and notes.
The themes featured in this room range from the knowledge of sophisticated systems of banknote security to the microscopic visualisation of the fibres that make up the notes themselves. In the same space, a device simulates a wishing well. In this room, visitors may furthermore test the genuineness of the money in their pockets, and also virtually mint a coin or print a note bearing their profiles and faces.
ILLUSTRATIONS / Banknotes of the World
Glass sheets covering a world map depicted on the floor are hoisted in this room, dedicated to the subject of banknote illustration. They serve to protect and display the expressive variety of graphic and chromatic motifs on the banknotes, thus reflecting the diversity of cultural aspects of each country represented.
Fauna, flora, personalities, monuments, and iconic landscapes can also be enjoyed in detail in virtual books inserted in a scenic wall focusing on the power of visual communication and of the images engraved on paper money.
UNDERSTANDING / Banco de Portugal
In this room, visitors learn more about Banco de Portugal and fully comprehend some of its main tasks.
The purpose is to present the main responsibilities of Banco de Portugal, in an accessible way, and how the activities it accomplishes impact and make a difference in the citizens' lives. Among other issues, we talk about the role of Banco de Portugal in European institutions, about inflation and monetary policy, the circulation of money, payment systems, statistics and supervision. In an interactive way, visitors to the Museum have a better understanding of the importance of a central bank in their daily lives.
UNVEILLING THE PAST / Local Memories
The former chapel hosts the second Hermes statue, the figure linking the past and the future. This multimedia sculpture, dedicated to the memory of the area, contrasts medieval Lisbon with the Pombaline city and highlights the transformation of Baixa, the capital's historical, financial, and administrative centre — and the place where Banco de Portugal was established.
On the side screens, 3D archaeological illustrations of the findings from the recent restoration work carried out in the building are visible.