Smithsonian Opens “Really BIG Money” April 8

Exhibit Features Massive Currency in Kid-Friendly Gallery
April 7, 2022
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Taxidermied bird on a wooden perch for display

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will open its first numismatic history exhibition for children, “Really BIG Money,” April 8. While small, this kid-friendly gallery will present young visitors with really big money; that is, money that is large in size, quantity or denomination and will feature some 185 objects from the museum’s National Numismatic Collection.

Inside the space, visitors will see some objects that may not seem like money at all: a quetzal bird with iridescent tail feathers that were used as currency in Mexico and Central America, Swedish plate money, Chinese knife money and a 112-pound stone ring, called a “rai,” from the island of Yap in the Pacific Ocean. The gallery also includes a hyperinflation 20 trillion mark note from post-World War I Germany and a hoard of 165 Roman coins arranged in the shape of Emperor Diocletian’s head.

“These objects were selected to surprise, delight and engage young visitors,” said Ellen Feingold, the museum’s curator of numismatics. “The artifacts and information presented, align with the social studies curriculum on world cultures and financial literacy for elementary-aged learners and they help promote creative thinking through a blend of object surveys and interactive experiences.”

“Really BIG Money” allows young visitors to see money as a fun and memorable way to learn about the world around them and explore the natural environment, communities and cultures, political leadership and the process of exchange. The artifacts and interactives on display show how culture, geography and politics shape how money is made and used.

Interactive features include a measuring activity with a five-foot seven-inch currency blade and a selfie station, where gallery goers can see their own faces on money through customized mirrors and share images with friends. Visitors can also test what they have learned about big money via the touchless “Match the Money” game in which a custom animation features a quetzal bird as it travels the world.

The exhibition website features additional content including learning resources designed for elementary school classrooms and the “Match the Money” game. The new gallery was designed to complement the museum’s long term numismatic exhibition “The Value of Money,” which is available to virtual visitors online.

“Really BIG Money” was made possible by Michael Chou, the Howard F. Bowker Numismatic Projects Endowment Fund, and Bill and Dianne Calderazzo, with additional support from Jeff Garrett, Robert L. Harwell II and John F. McMullan.

Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History seeks to empower people to create a more just and compassionate future by examining, preserving and sharing the complexity of our past. The museum, located on Constitution Avenue N.W., between 12th and 14th streets, is open seven days a week except Dec, 25, between 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Admission is free. The doors of the museum are always open online and the virtual museum continues to expand its offerings, including online exhibitions, K–12 educational materials and programs. The public can follow the museum on social media on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. For more information, go to For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000.

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Solo Medios 

Melinda Machado


Valeska Hilbig



National Museum of American History
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