Money, money, money..makes the world go round! I strongly disagree! I’m not like Carrie from SATC that my money hangs in my closet but I can still see where my money has gone..I just need to open a photo album and see all my beautiful travel photos! Thus visiting a bank museum isn’t exactly something I’d normally do.
On my recent trip to London (this May) I visited the Bank of England Museum. I have done a lot of free museums in London and when I saw that the Museums at Night festival coincides with my visit to London I decided to choose one of the museums that stayed open longer because of the festival. I browsed the Museums at Night website and I decided to go to the Bank of England Museum mainly because it was free and small and looked interesting enough.
Bank of England Museum
Of course, the Bank of England Museum is situated in the Bank of England building in the City of London. The closest tube station is Bank but even though I have walked around the City before and have certainly been on the Royal Exchange square more than once I was slightly confused to where is exactly the entrance to the museum. The Bank is to the left of the square but the museum’s entrance is in the small street Bartholomew Lane.
At the museum’s entrance you go through airport-like security and then go into a big room. It was around 7 pm (the museum is usually open until 5 pm) and there were quite a few people wandering around the museum. I was looking at some old photos of the bank building when a museum guide approached me and started speaking quickly about the bank’s history. I don’t know whether this happens usually. I guess this was because of the Museums at Night festival. I saw several other people looking amused too when they were approached by other museum guides.
Interestingly enough the Bank of England was established by a Scotsman while the Bank of Scotland was established by an Englishman. Furthermore, the Bank of England was founded in 1694 and it is the second oldest central bank in the world. Also, nobody ever broke into the Bank of England except from one plumber who actually didn’t take anything. These are just a few snippets of information that I heard from the museum guide. I looked at a lot of old coins and banknotes. Then I proceeded to the other rooms and learned a bit more about the bank’s history, the bank’s building and the finances.
The Bank of England Museum is actually quite small and you can see everything in less than an hour. The highlight of the visit was definitely the Gold Bar room. You can hold a real gold bar. And believe me, it’s quite heavy! It’s also overwhelming to learn how many gold bars are stored in vaults under the bank. Then I got to see some new banknotes that should be slowly introduced from this October. They’re not made of paper but of sturdier material and they reminded me of some Australian banknotes that I saw years ago. At the end of my visit I decided to play a bit in the main (first) room. There are a couple of fun hands-on activities like Take the helm! and Navigating financial storm. There’s also a small souvenir shop and toilets but there’s isn’t a café or some other facility like in many other bigger museums.
All in all, it was an interesting museum. Not quite quirky like the Sherlock Holmes museum I did years ago but it was still worth a visit (and it’s FREE!).
Have you been to the Bank of England Museum? Or any other bank/finances museum?