October 17th, 2018

Galt’s money exhibit explores currency


By Mabell, Dave on September 25, 2018.

Herald photo by Greg Bobinec Visitors of the Galt Museum & Archives wander through the new exhibit Decoding E Money, which runs until Jan. 6, 2019.

Dave Mabell

Lethbridge Herald

dmabell@lethbridgeherald.com

From beaver pelt counters to bitcoins, North Americans have invented many kinds of “money.”

Northern trading posts would use special sticks to measure how many pelts were being bought – and how much the trapper could receive. By comparison, it’s more difficult to explain how some of the latest “e-money” programs actually work.

But that’s one of the objectives at “Decoding E-money,” the latest feature at the Galt Museum.

It’s an interactive exhibit that’s travelling the country, explains Galt curator Aimee Benoit. But for the Bank of Canada Museum creation, it’s the first stop in Western Canada.

It opened Sunday “with the hope to broaden the understanding of digital currencies,” she says. Visitors will be invited to experience the displays “through a fun and compelling hands-on context.”

While raising awareness of this new tool of commerce, she says, it’s also aimed at helping Canadians understand the possible effects of the growing use of digital currency.

“‘Decoding E-money’ is a timely exhibition that explores a function of modern society that is becoming ever more prevalent in our everyday lives,” Benoit adds.

To engage visitors, it includes electronic games that help players understand the “principles and philosophies” behind monetary tools ranging from credit and debit cards to “cryptocurrencies” and “blockchains,” she says. Players will experience “the intense competition involved in verifying and completing digital transactions so they become permanent and unchangeably embedded in a public transaction record.”

Looking back, however, the exhibit also includes colonial and Canadian coins, bank notes and paper currency covering several centuries.

Coins or bills from various nations – Spain, France, England and more – were in circulation before Confederation in 1867, Benoit notes. And paper money was issued by several institutions before the Bank of Canada was created during the depths of depression, in 1935.

For many Canadians, the first hint of the role digital currency would play was – zip, zip – the first Chargex card. Those early cards are also part of the exhibition, which will remain on view until Jan. 8.

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