On May 13, 2022, the Yale University Art Gallery opened the new Bela Lyon Pratt Gallery of Numismatics. The first-floor gallery has been specially designed to exhibit the depth and breadth of the numismatics collection, featuring over 260 of the museum’s smallest objects in 16 newly designed display cases. On view is numismatic artwork dating from the second millennium B.C. to the modern era.
The gallery has been divided into three sections and features numerous iconic objects and rarities alike, ranging from a Syracusan dekadrachm of the fourth century B.C., widely regarded as among the greatest artistic achievements of Greek coinage, to the Nobel Prize Medal for Literature awarded to Eugene O’Neill in 1936, as well as an unique American Bank Note Company collage (late 19th century). As the first designated and custom-designed public gallery for this material at Yale, it marks a watershed moment in the history of one of the oldest collections at the University and reflects the museum’s commitment to emphasizing the importance of this often-overlooked field of the arts.
The installation offers a beautifully rich introduction to an often-overlooked area of the arts, including iconic pieces and rarities. Among the objects on display is a remarkable and highly sought-after silver medal of Sir William Parkhurst (1644) by Thomas Rawlins, one of the greatest medalists. The solemn portrait of Parkhurst as Warden of the Exchange and Mint of England for Kings James I, Charles I, and Charles II demonstrates Rawlins’s extraordinary hand. In the intimate new gallery, visitors can quietly study this and other breathtaking numismatic masterpieces.
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