Eindrücke aus der Sonderausstellung "Geldmacher" ©Nils Thies

Money creators. Who decides what’s money? Special exhibition at the Money Museum curated by the Numismatic Collection, open from 30 June 2021 to 29 May 2022

From 30 June 2021 to 29 May 2022, the Deutsche Bundesbank ran a numismatic special exhibition called “Money Creators. Who decides what’s money?”. The exhibition gave the public the chance to view selected pieces from the Bank’s extensive numismatic collection, showing some of its most interesting coins, banknotes and traditional means of payment. The special exhibition is now closed, but can still be experienced in digital form, with all the content viewable on screen or with a pair of 3D glasses.

Who actually has the right to create and issue money? And how has this balance evolved and changed over the course of history? These are the questions at the heart of the special exhibition.

We are used to seeing money as a public good created and controlled by the state, generally by the central bank. “Most people probably don’t even really notice the signature of the incumbent ECB president on the euro banknotes. But it is precisely this feature which serves as an expression and affirmation of the very special task which independent central banks in the Eurosystem perform,” remarked Bundesbank Executive Board Member Johannes Beermann, speaking at the opening ceremony.

If we cast an eye back in time, we find that this was not always consistently the case in other eras and cultural contexts. The outward appearance of money has always changed, and with it the people and institutions who decide what counts as money. Life is increasingly going digital – a development to which the monetary system is by no means immune. Time will tell what lies in store.