Bank of England Museum
Bank of England Museum
City of London
020 7601 5545
020 7601 5808
The Bank of England Museum tells the story of the Bank from its foundation in 1694 to its role in today's economy. Ineractive programmes with graphics and video help explain its many and varied roles. Popular exhibits include a unique collection of banknotes and a genuine gold bar which may be handled.
Closed: Weekends and Public & Bank Holidays. Except for Open Door Day, Open House Weekend and Lord Mayors Show day.
The Museum offers presentations for groups of between 15 and 50 people. Cinema presentations can be adapted to suit the age, knowledge and ability of the group. They are free of charge but their popularity means they must be booked in advance (020 7601 5545).
Curiosities from the Vaults: A Bank miscellany
- 31 March — 11 July 2014 *on now
The Museum permanent galleries display some of the most significant items to illustrate the history of the Bank as a prominent financial institution since its foundation in 1694 to the present day. The “curiosities” in this exhibition reveal new and fascinating stories about the lives of staff, customers and personalities connected to the Bank over more than three centuries, offering a unique opportunity for a historical look behind the scenes of Threaneedle Street.
Among the previously unseen items is a battered leather trunk, whose enigmatic description in the Museum’s 1936 catalogue ledger reads ‘Camel pack for carrying gold over deserts’. Over the years, this humble-looking object has been the subject of much speculation, which has grown into an association with a legendary name: could this really be Lawrence of Arabia’s saddle bag, lent to him by the Bank for the transportation of gold during his wartime desert campaigns? Although the connection to this particular object remains unproven, private letters and other documents form the Bank’s Archive hint at a relationship between Lawrence and the Bank.
Another unseen item is a mahogany secret ballot box designed by the great Georgian architect Sir John Soane, Architect and Surveyor to the Bank from 1788 to 1833. Designed in the form of a miniature ancient Greek temple with palm tree roof design, it was used during the 1800s by the Bank’s Court of Directors to cast votes at the end of countless important meetings. The ballot box enabled a voter to cast their ballot by reaching inside and dropping a small wooden ball to the left side for ‘yes’ or right for ‘no’.
Also on display is a set of high-value notes signed by distinguished visitors to the Bank over 200 years, including Prince Frederick of Prussia, George Elliot, Nelson Mandela and HM the Queen. Also featured are ‘the Choshu Five’ – a group of future statesmen from Japan, who travelled secretly to the west in 1863, when such a journey was illegal, before returning as some of the most important modernising figures in Japan’s history.
Other remarkable objects on display include magnificent oil paintings, a series of beautifully preserved Roman and mediaeval ceramics discovered in the 1920s during the demolition of Soane’s original Bank building, and the centrepiece of the exhibition, an 18th-century carved wooden figure of the Bank’s emblem Britannia.
- Any age
Museums at Night: Banknotes and Bullion
- 16 May 2014 5:30-9pm
On Friday 16 May the Bank of England Museum will offer its visitors a rare opportunity for an evening visit as part of the nationwide Museums at Night campaign. Doors will open from 5:30pm until 9:00pm, with special events taking place through the evening.
Banknotes experts will conduct short presentations giving background information about current Bank of England notes as well as explaining how to use the intricate design and security features to identify genuine notes. They will also be happy to answer any questions from the public.
Gold will also be playing a prominent role during the evening. Visitors can try their hand at lifting a genuine gold bar although, weighing 13kg, it will take many people by surprise! Some of the Bank’s bullion experts will be on hand to answer any questions about gold.
All the Museum displays will also be available. Visitors can take the controls of a virtual hot air balloon and chart it on a stable course to simulate the role of the Bank in keeping inflation steady. The Museum houses the world's finest collection of Bank of England banknotes alongside items from the Bank’s collections of silver, paintings, photographs, coins, books and documents.
- Any age
Admission and all activities are free, and there’s no need to book.
Pounds & Pence
A film presentation about money and prices for 8-14 year olds (Key Stages 2 and 3).
This sixty minutes presentation is cross-curricular and contains educational links to English, Maths, History and Citizenship/PSHE/PSE/PSD. The themes covered potentially link to the well-being aims of the Every Child Matters agenda.
Children will enjoy the upbeat style of the film and the humorous scenarios which explain the points in an accessible and entertaining way. Using sheets of new banknotes worth thousands of pounds, children will examine the security features and be encouraged to play an active part throughout the presentation.
How to obtain
To book a free presentation, please call 0207 601 3833 / 3866 / 3951 or email email@example.com