October 11, 2012 – In June 2012 the British Museum has re-opened room 68 dedicated to money. There the Department of Coins and Medals displays a selection of around 1,000 objects out of the over one million of their collection illustrating the history of money. This history does not halt with modern coins, but you can admire small cowrie shells as traditional way of payment besides a mobile phone that serves nowadays as virtual wallet all over the world.
However, one thousand objects out of one million means that the overwhelming part of the British Museum collection of coins and medals is not visible in the display and, although the objects in exposition will be continuously changing, probably never will be. Since the British Museum is well aware of the duty to share its possessions with the people outside we should not underestimate the importance of the virtual catalogue online.
Making available images and database-filed information of thousands of objects is an enduring task and requires money (not only that to publish but also financing funds, of course …) and people to perform this work because it is indispensable to take photos of both sides of every coin, describe it and fill out the respective forms.
Therefore it was a great idea to get help from outside. Since the Citi supports the Money Gallery in the British Museum they have chosen to give also a hand during their annual Citi Global Community Day. For two days six Citi employees went to the museum and experienced this engagement as an interestingly new approach to another world, the world of numismatics: ‘Thinking that even counting the coins (over a million objects) would be fun, we managed to land a project to photograph and scan objects from the American coins and medals collection. A total of 565 objects were scanned and catalogued over the two days between two groups of six volunteers,’ described Yiting Shen, co-chair of the Citi London Volunteer Council these two days.
The curators chose American medals and coins to be handled by the volunteers because this year the US-founded Citi celebrates their 200th anniversary.
In a second step the volunteers uploaded the data to the museum’s online collection. If you search the British Museum online collection for American Civil War medals or gambling tokens from Las Vegas, you may thus well remember the personal contribution of the Citi volunteers. This event should become a role model – and not only in the British Museum.
Catherine Eagleton, curator at the Department of Coins and Medals reported on this project in the British Museum blog.
Visit – at least online – the Citi Money Gallery.
Citi presents its 200 years of existence here.