Inflation Explained At The Bank Of England Museum

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 29 April 2008
photo of a museum gallery with a hot air balloon basket and large pound signs

Courtesy Bank of England Museum

Exhibition preview: The Pound in Your Pocket at the Bank of England Museum until October 31 2008.

As the cost of everything from a pint of milk to a litre of petrol seems to rise inexorably with every passing month, the word 'inflation' is never far away.

How would you visualise inflation? It's a topical subject, and one the Bank of England Museum is uniquely placed to deal with, as it is now doing in the exhibition The Pound in Your Pocket.

To tackle the thorny phenomenon, the museum has come up with some easy to grasp analogies that will help visitors understand what inflation is and how it is controlled.

The centrepiece puts visitors in the role of the Bank of England as it tries to steer inflation on the course of a reasonable trajectory – except that inflation is shown as a balloon, which is pushed up and down by conditions.

Visitors must step into the basket of a hot air balloon and increase or decrease the air in the balloon to keep it flying at the right height, in a game that offers a metaphor for the raising and lowering of Bank Rate to keep inflation on target.

photo of a boy playing in the hot air balloon basket

Courtesy Bank of England Museum

Other exhibits include fun interactives that unravel the meaning of inflation, how it is caused, why it matters and how the Bank's actions affect it.

Original objects from the Bank's collections illustrate important events in the history of inflation, such as Roman gold bars from the first period of inflation in Ancient Rome, 18th century cartoons and examples of English coinage being debased. Sterling silver coins from the Norman penny to a Charles II penny are shown, all diminishing in size.

"Inflation is a subject that is important to us all," says John Keyworth, Museum Curator. "This exhibition tackles the subject in a practical and fun way and should surprise people with an array of things to see and do."

This is an exhibition preview. If you've been to see the show, why not let us know?

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