What Impact Has Our Monetary System On All of Us?

The exhibition “Money Unleashed – The Story of an Invention” runs until 8th January 2023. © Bernisches Historisches Museum, Bern. Photo: Stefan Wermuth.
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From 20th January 2022, the Bernisches Historisches Museum, in cooperation with the Swiss National Bank, will be showing the exhibition  – The Story of an Invention”. The exhibition invites visitors to take a new look at our monetary system, presents milestones in monetary history, and opens up discussions on the burning issues surrounding the topic.

The exhibition gives visitors the chance to learn about our complex modern monetary system. © Bernisches Historisches Museum, Bern. Photo: Stefan Wermuth.

From commodity money to metal money, from coin to paper, from banknote to electronic coin – the story of money is one of dematerialization and acceleration. And, as recently shown by the corona pandemic, one of unleashing. Where can such masses of money come from in such a short time? And is it even possible to grasp the complexity of today’s monetary system?

There is an abundance of money in the world, but many people don’t have enough. © Bernisches Historisches Museum, Bern. Photo: Stefan Wermuth.

The Bernisches Historisches Museum explores such questions in its exhibition “Money Unleashed” and shows the history of money through a number of selected milestones. At the center of the exhibition is the multimedia presentation of money being unleashed. Which is understood not simply as releasing money from its physical bounds, but as adding further dimensions to it. One of these is the economic dimension: with money, mankind has invented a medium that has enabled commercial expansion. With money, however, we have also created a medium that has cast us under its emotional spell. “The invention of money has fundamentally changed our lives, economically, socially and emotionally, which is what we want to convey to the visitors through the exhibition experience”, says curator David Iselin.

A Rip-Roaring Ride through the History of Money

In addition to major game changers in the history of money, present-day experts also have their say in the exhibition: among others, the historian Mary O’Sullivan and the economist and cryptocurrency specialist Fabian Schär, comment on the greatest challenges facing our present monetary system. Yet far from giving clear answers, “Money Unleashed” raises questions. These can be discussed over a drink at “Chez Dagobert” at the end of the exhibition. Here in the exhibition’s own bar, the Money Hosts invite us to exchange opinions on the big money questions. This new format gives the public the chance to digest what they have seen and heard, to contribute their own questions, and to express their views on the monetary system.

An Evening at the Museum with Tommy Vercetti & Guests

From 16 March to 27 April 2022, the exhibition will stay open until 9:30 p.m. every Wednesday with the program “An Evening at the Museum – Money Talks”. The host will be Bernese rapper Tommy Vercetti. Simon Küffer – Vercetti’s real name – researches the topic of money at the Bern Academy of Arts. On seven evenings, he will discuss such topics as cryptocurrencies, the money glut, and the aesthetics of money with a changing cast of guests.

In November, a whole weekend will be dedicated to the subject of money: aha, a festival for science from Lucerne is coming to Bern on 11th and 12th November 2022.

Monetary experts from the worlds of academia and finance answer the most pressing questions our modern monetary system raises. © Bernisches Historisches Museum, Bern. Photo: Stefan Wermuth.

An Important Step towards the Kaiserhaus

The “Money Unleashed” exhibition is part of a long-standing collaboration between the Bernisches Historisches Museum and the Swiss National Bank, with the goal of opening a joint “money experience” at the Kaiserhaus in Bern. Both the exhibition and the Kaiserhaus are planned to become places where one can learn, experience, and marvel. “The exhibition at the Bernisches Historisches Museum offers us the chance to gauge the visitors’ feelings and get to the bottom of currently pressing money questions, all with an eye on the Kaiserhaus project,” says Director Thomas Pauli-Gabi. The Kaiserhaus is scheduled to open in 2024.


Further information about the exhibition can be found on the website of the Bernisches Historisches Museum.

Read more about the aha Festival in Luzern.