History of the Money Museum

The beginnings of the Money Museum can be traced as far back as 1985 when the Lithuanian Republican Office of the USSR State Bank housed the Museum of the History of the State Bank. It was registered in 1986 as one of public museums in the Lithuanian SSR and stored 489 exhibits from its main holdings. The responsibilities of the Museum’s Superintendent were entrusted to Genovaitė Leonavičiūtė, a long-time employee of the USSR State Bank’s Lithuanian Republican Office. The formation of the Museum’s collections was limited to the gathering of material collected for ideological and propaganda purposes, on bankers who participated in the war and work veterans, counting technology, anniversary, circulation and withdrawn from circulation rubles. From 1988 the head of the Board of Affairs of the USSR State Bank’s Lithuanian Republican Office, Vladislavas Andriuškevičius, was appointed responsible for the Museum’s activities on a public basis.

Upon the re-establishment of Lithuania’s independence in 1990 and the founding of the Bank of Lithuania, the Lithuanian Republican Bank of the USSR State Bank and the institutions subordinate to it were liquidated. The Museum discontinued its activities. In 1993, G. Leonavičiūtė was assigned with resuming the Museum’s activities again. A museum exhibition was staged from the exhibits gifted, found at bank branches and borrowed. As it was evaluated critically by the Bank of Lithuania’s new management in 1996, the Museum was closed down again and its exhibition was dismantled. It was decided to look for new premises for the Museum and its staff, to prepare legal acts for the regulation of the activity of the Bank of Lithuania’s Museum, the conception of a new exhibition, to plan the trends and tasks of the Museum’s further activity.

On 10 June 1997, the historian and museologist Vidmantas Laurinavičius was appointed as Head and Keeper of the Museum’s holdings. An activity and reconstruction conception for the Museum was developed, which was approved by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania and the Lithuanian Association of Museums. A vision of the Museum’s further activities was presented to the Committee of Directors of the Bank of Lithuania on 11 November 1997, its major guidelines were projected, and proposals concerning the needed premises for the Museum and protection of its items were put forward. It was decided to give the Museum 125 m2 premises (of which 100 m2 — exhibition area) in the Bank’s building on Totorių g. 2/8 with the entrance from the street side. The designs for the interior, furniture and exhibition had to be produced quickly; new exhibits, that would best reflect the complementing directions chosen, found and added up to the Museum’s holdings. On the basis of the Committee-approved main trends of the Museum activities, regulations (statute) of the Museum of the Bank of Lithuania were worked out. In 1998 the Museum became an associated member of the Lithuanian Association of Museums.

The Museum exhibitions, housed in the new premises, on the money of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the history of banking and money in independent Lithuania, were presented to the public on 25 June 1999, when commemorating the sixth anniversary of the introduction of the litas. This date is considered the official date of the opening of the Museum. The Museum became open to the public: all those willing to visit it could do so on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 to 12:00 am and from 1:00 to 2:30 pm. Half a year later, on 5 January 2000, the Museum was attended by its 1000th visitor.

Without free exhibition space available, various exhibitions (“The Euro and the Money of the EU Countries”, “The Litas: Traditions and the Present”, “Money of Re-established Lithuania. 1990–2000”, “Money in Caricature”, “Money in Photographs”, etc.) were arranged at the premises of the Bank of Lithuania and the city’s exhibition halls.

With no shortage of unique ideas, looking for increasingly newer means of exhibiting, and aiming to make the exhibition multilateral, with different levels of knowledge conveyance, an activity and expansion conception for the Museum was prepared in 2000. It not only assessed the current situation, highlighted issues and provided for ways of addressing them, but also defined the directions in the activities and aspects of development.

When reconstruction of the Bank of Lithuania’s premises started in 2007, the exhibition was closed down. The activities of the Museum staff did not stop though. In a very short while an exhibition on the history of the Bank of Lithuania was prepared and opened at the historical buildings of the Bank of Lithuania in Kaunas on 18 December that same year. All those who are willing to see it can do so at present.

Having reconstructed and expanded the Museum’s premises over a couple of years, a new modern exhibition of the Money Museum was opened on 21 December 2010. The building in the heart of the city, which houses the Museum, was constructed in the second half of the 19th century and is currently part of the Bank of Lithuania buildings complex. The new exhibitions of the Museum in five halls over two floors occupy an area of 300 m2. They introduce the visitor to the history of world money and banking, Lithuanian currency, development of banking in our country from the origination of the first credit institutions to present day. By combining traditional exhibition forms and modern interactive means, possibilities were created to present visitors with more information on the history of money, to not only view the exhibition passively, but also take an active part in the cognition process; the possibility was provided to make use of different additional knowledge acquisition sources and means: computer terminals with special applications, a specifically oriented internet access, thematic, educational films and documentaries.

The Money Museum’s visual graphic solutions, integration of pieces of art, various interactive means, visual, sound and light effects have not only been employed to interest and provide the visitor with some knowledge, but to help accumulate and consolidate that knowledge, to encourage to go into detail, interpret and search for answers on their own. The Money Museum is adapted to people with disabilities. For people with movement disorders, the Museum has installed outdoor and indoor elevators, a special WC. With the help of buttons a visitor can regulate magnifying glasses and get acquainted with items exhibited on moving stands. Those who are visually handicapped (partially blind) can make use of a special audio guide with conventional tactile buttons. The Museum has also installed an electronic tour audio guide system in sign language, which is adjusted for people with hearing disabilities.

The Museum is an institutional member of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) and of Lithuania’s integral museum information system (LIMIS).