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Exhibition Review: 325 years, 325 objects at the Bank of England Museum from 22 July 2019 to 15 May 2020

The Bank of England celebrates its 325th anniversary, with a new exhibition at the Bank of England Museum entitled 325 years, 325 objects which tells the fascinating story of the bank through items selected from the vast collections amassed since the Bank was founded in 1694.

The small exhibition spans art, design, archaeology, architecture, ceremony, politics, wartime, the monarchy, security, fraud and forgery, crises, riots and technology and features a number of objects that tell a remarkable story of how the Bank Of England became the United Kingdom’s central bank and how it survived and prospered in a ever changing world.

Some of the highlights of the exhibition include The first banknotes, including an early note, dated 26th June 1702, issued to Elizabeth Head, an early investor in the Bank.

Artwork sketches and test plates for banknote designs, including Jacobite design proofs from 1745 and a woodblock design for the first postal order from 1880.

A still-wax-sealed packet containing a duplicate key to the door of the Bullion Office from 1784

19th and 20th century forged banknotes and printing plates

Roman relics found during archaeological digs on the Threadneedle Street site.

Handmade terracotta bricks taken from Sir John Soane’s Rotunda in his original Bank building and early 20th-century hand-painted wall tiles from the Bank’s parlours, featuring Britannia, Minerva, Pythagoras and more

Manual dexterity tests given to Bank staff in the 1980s

Cold War Calculator. A radiation fallout calculator, 1959/60, used to estimate the effects of a nuclear attack.

Early views of the Bank building and its location in the City of London

Depictions of a dozen monarchs across successive gold coins

This is also a drawing of the ‘Bank nun’, Sarah Whitehead, who, from 1812 to 1837, visited the Bank of England each day, dressed in mourning clothes. She was the sister of a former Bank Clerk who had been sentenced to death for forging an acceptance to a bill. Each day she came to the Bank, awaiting her brother, under the delusion that he was still employed there.

Specially commissioned for the exhibition is a stunning botanical sculpture, created by artist Justine Smith. The sculpture is an arrangement of wild British flowers, all made from a combination of previously circulated £50 notes and uncirculated £50 test notes. The arrangement is presented in a silver water jug, dating from 1694, the year of the Bank’s foundation.

The exhibition takes place in the centre of The Bank of England Museum which has a full-size reconstruction of Sir John Soane’s 18th-century Stock Office, a large boat construction is full of interactive displays explaining how the Bank works, banknote design and security and how the Bank works within the financial system. There is also a large solid gold bar that you can pick up and touch.

The Bank of England is one of the best known institutions in the world but its inner workings are often shrouded in mystery. This fascinating free exhibition provides an opportunity to discover some of the bank’s secrets and its remarkable history. Each object tells a story from the past 325 years and offers plenty of insights into how banking transformed the world economies and helped to create the ‘modern world.’

325 years, 325 objects at the Bank of England Museum, Bartholomew Lane (off Threadneedle Street),
London EC2R 8AH. Dates: 22 July 2019 – 15 May 2020. Admission: Free.
Opening hours: Monday-Friday: 10am-5pm (last entry 4:30pm). Closed Public and Bank Holidays and
weekends, except for special events taking place on those days.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

If you would like further information about the exhibition, visit the Bank of England website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014 , we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

Review: Bank of England Museum

The Bank of England stands behind high walls in the City of London and is often ignored by visitors, however it has a fascinating history. The Bank of England has played a unique role in British history for over 300 years, it is the central bank of the United Kingdom which was established in 1694. The bank also plays an important role in setting monetary policy and has a monopoly on the issue of banknotes in England and Wales and regulates the issue of banknotes by banks in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

To find out more about the bank, visitors can enter The Bank of England Museum which has a selection of displays and exhibits which cover the history of the Bank, its buildings, and the role the bank has played more than 300 years.

The first room is The Stock Office which is a reconstruction of one of the bank’s eighteenth-century offices built by Sir John Soane, who was the Bank’s architect from 1788 to 1833.

Displays show how the bank is involved in monetary policy, tries to ensure financial stability by identifying and monitoring risks in the financial system and looks at the Bank of England’s architecture from Sir John Soane to Herbert Baker who rebuilt and expanded the Bank in the 1930s. The current bank building has seven floors above ground and three floors below.

The next section entitled The Early Years 1694 – 1800 explores the first 100 or so years of the Bank of England. The bank was created as a response to the need to raise money at the time of war with France. The Bank was located in rented buildings for its first 40 years, but moved to Threadneedle Street in 1734.

One of the oldest pieces of furniture in the Bank, dating from approximately 1700 is a great iron chest that was the forerunners of modern safes. Visitors can also see a £1 million pound note used for internal accounting in the 18th century. It was in the 18th century that The Bank of England’s got its famous nickname, ‘The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street’, which originated from a 1797 cartoon by the satirist James Gillray.

The centre of the museum is the The Rotunda which features displays for the period 1800 to 1946. The statues around the Rotunda, called caryatids, were original features of Sir John Soane’s bank. They were salvaged for use in the new building.

The bank played an important role during the interwar years, managing the country’s gold and foreign exchange reserves and operating monetary policy, this was formalised when the bank was nationalised in 1946.

A remarkable little known fact is that The Bank of England stores around 400,000 gold bars in its vaults. The gold stored in the vaults doesn’t actually belong to the Bank of England. Instead, the Bank stores gold on behalf of the UK Treasury, other governments and central banks around the world, and many other financial institutions.

If you have ever wondered what it is like to handle genuine bar of gold, you can with a bar weighing 13kg (28lb) available for visitors to lift up in a small box.

The Banknote Gallery looks at the origins of paper money in ancient China and how banknotes have changed from the seventeenth century to the present day. The problem with forgeries is discussed and you can look at the complex designs that make modern banknotes more difficult to counterfeit. There is a section on the cutting-edge technology used to create the Bank of England’s newest polymer banknotes.

As well as the permanent displays, the museum has a series of temporary exhibitions taking place throughout the year.

The Bank of England Museum is located within the Bank of England itself and is a fascinating look at this often mysterious institution. The museum is relatively small but full of interesting exhibits which provide some background to the role of the bank in the past and in the modern world.

Admission is free, but all visitors will need to go through airport style security to enter the museum, the museum entrance is on Bartholomew Lane.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information and tickets, visit the Bank of England website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

Exhibition Review – Feliks Topolski: Drawing Debden, Sketches from the Printing Works at the Bank of England Museum from 1st October 2018 to Summer 2019

The Bank of England Museum presents a new, free exhibition which features a collection of works by expressionist artist Feliks Topolski (1907-1989). The exhibition entitled Feliks Topolski: Drawing Debden highlights works from a set of 27 drawings and paintings by Topolski, commissioned by the Bank of England in 1957 to mark the opening of its new Printing Works in Debden, Essex.

Feliks Topolski was born in Warsaw, Poland, in 1907 and settled in Britain in the 1930s, he became well-known for his war drawings and paintings. In 1958, Prince Philip commissioned Topolski to paint a mural of Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation at Buckingham Palace and he became famous for his portraits of cultural figures, Topolski’s subjects included Mahatma Gandhi, George Bernard Shaw, Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, Alec Guinness and TS Eliot.

The opening of the new Debden printing works in 1956 was an important occasion for the Bank of England and in 1957 they commissioned Topolski to create an illustrated record of the building, its staff and the process of creating banknotes.

The exhibition features a number of Topolski’s work including views from the inspectors’ galleries, across the different stages of banknote manufacture. He captures a variety of printing techniques including both lithographic and intaglio printing, as well as numbering, cutting and examining the finished banknotes.

Topolski captures some of the processes but also produced studies of individual machine operators, sheet checkers and note counters at work.

The new printworks provided employment for many of the people who had moved away from London’s Blitz-damaged East End to Essex. Topolski shows the workforce at work but also at leisure, playing table tennis in the recreation hall and knitting, drinking tea and reading in the canteen.

The Printing Works’ distinctive building was specially designed by architect Sir Howard Robertson (1888-1963), along with structural engineers Ove Arup to increase the efficiency for the banknote-making process. Topolski’s work records the vast arches of the Production Hall roof from the inspectors’ gallery which offered an overall view of the factory floor.

The exhibition also includes photography of Debden since the 1950s and examples of the individual notes under production.

This fascinating exhibition allows visitors to view a number of works by expressionist artist Feliks Topolski commissioned by the Bank of England. On the surface, the commission seemed unusual, Topolski’s expressionist pictures were not widely popular and the Bank of England was considered in the 1950s rather old-fashioned. Whatever the reasons, the works until now seem to have been quietly forgotten rather than celebrated.

This exhibition brings to light a number of works that highlights Topolski’s skill for creating scenes of movement and humanity. He manages to move beyond the often boring and repetitive processes of the factory floor and show something of the vitality of the people who worked at Debden.

Visitors to the free exhibition can also look around the rest of the Bank of England Museum which tells the story of the Bank, from its foundation in 1694 to its role today as the United Kingdom’s central bank.

Bank of England Museum – Bartholomew Lane (off Threadneedle Street), London EC2R 8AH

Opening hours: Monday-Friday: 10am-5pm (last entry 4:30pm). Closed Public and Bank Holidays and
weekends, except for special events taking place on those days.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

If you would like further information about the exhibition, visit the Bank of England website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014 , we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

Exhibitions and Events at the Bank of England Museum in 2017

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The Bank of England Museum, in Threadneedle Street at the heart of the City of London will be presenting a host of events, exhibitions and displays for 2017.  One of the highlights is the Museum’s special exhibition, Stories from the City: The Bank of England in Literature, which marks the launch of the new polymer £10 note, featuring the image of Jane Austen. The exhibition will include a wealth of exhibits related to the lives and works of Austen, Charles Dickens, T.S. Eliot, Dr Johnson, Robert Browning, Samuel Pepys and George Eliot.

The Bank of England Museum tells the story of the Bank, from its foundation in 1694 to its role today as the United Kingdom’s central bank. Within a full-size reconstruction of Sir John Soane’s 18th-century Stock Office, a large boat construction is full of interactive displays explaining how the Bank works, banknote design and security and how the Bank tries to keep the financial system on an even keel.

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The new Banknote Gallery tells the story of the banknote, from the early days when paper money was largely mistrusted, to the new £5 note, packed with security features and printed on polymer. Filled with original drawings, artwork, designs, notes and sketches from the Bank’s collection, the gallery includes the earliest paper notes from Ming dynasty China and the ‘running cash’ notes – as old as the Bank of England itself, the earliest 17th century Bank of England notes and classic designs such as the ‘white fiver’ which lasted for 100 years.

New and Current Exhibitions

Stories from the City: The Bank of England in Literature 

This summer, the Bank of England will issue a new polymer £10 note, featuring Jane Austen. To celebrate the launch, this new exhibition explores the Bank’s literary connections over the last three centuries. The exhibition will illustrate the richness of the Bank’s collections, presenting exhibits related to the lives and works of Charles Dickens, T.S. Eliot, Dr Johnson, Robert Browning, Samuel Pepys and George Eliot. It will also reflect on moments when the Bank and the finances of London have been woven into classic works of fiction.  Dates: Opens summer 2017, runs until early 2018. 

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Capturing the City: Photography at the Bank of England 

The Bank of England Archive presents a largely unseen, beautifully atmospheric, photographic history of the Bank and its city since the mid-19th century.  Beginning with early salt paper prints from the 1840s and reaching forward to new images of the city today, the exhibition explores an alternative and sometimes surprising history of the Bank, its buildings and staff, while also creating a history of London from the Bank’s perspective.

 Among the highlights is a series of images of Sir John Soane’s ‘lost’ Bank of England. The windowless ‘curtain’ wall on Threadneedle Street is the only part of Soane’s original building standing today and the exhibition presents the best photographic record of the lost ‘Old Bank’.

Dates: Currently open, runs until summer 2017.

New Temporary Displays

The Big Bang 30th Anniversary – On 27th October 1986, the introduction of electronic trading and other radical changes affected market systems and the structure of the Stock Exchange. Thirty years on, a new, small display includes original documents from the Bank’s archive, revealing fascinating insights into the innovation that transformed the City. 

Dates: Currently open, until 28 April 2017.

20th Anniversary of the Bank’s Independence – On 6 May 1997, the new Chancellor of the Exchequer granted the Bank of England operational independence. The Bank began to set interest rates, and the Monetary Policy Committee was established. This new display uses a range of documents from the Bank of England’s Archive to explain what these changes meant and how they shaped the way the Bank works today.

Dates: From 2 May 2017.

Events

Toad to the Rescue 

The fantastic stories from The Wind in the Willows (whose author, Kenneth Grahame, was Secretary of the Bank for ten years) are brought to life by a costumed storyteller in fun and interactive sessions. No booking required. 

Dates: 13-17 February at 10:30am, 11:30am, 12:30pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm 

Chicks’ Great EGGscape – Join the hunt to find the hidden chicks and a golden egg by following the trail around the Museum and then decorate an Easter animal mask or finger puppet to take home. There’s a chocolate egg for every child.

Dates: 3-13 April from 10am-4:30pm 

Museums at Night 

A rare opportunity to visit the Museum after dark. Enjoy a variety of gallery talks and chat to gold and banknote experts. Meet members of the Museum and Archive teams, who will reveal some unique and unseen objects from the Bank’s collection which visitors can handle. 

Dates: Friday 19 May from 5:30-9pm 

Piggy Bank on us! 

Take inspiration from our collection of money boxes by following the trail and then join a creative workshop and decorate your own ceramic piggy bank. 

Dates: 30 May-2 June from 10:30am-4:30pm 

There is no charge for admission to the Museum or for any event

Visitor Information

Entrance: Bartholomew Lane (off Threadneedle Street), London EC2R 8AH (a two-minute walk from Bank Underground Station). 

Opening hours: Monday-Friday: 10am-5pm (last entry 4:30pm). Closed Public and Bank Holidays and weekends, except for special events taking place on those days.

If you would like further information, visit the Bank of England website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014 , we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here