The Money and Medals Network is a Subject Specialist Network that aims to enhance knowledge and understanding of coins, medals, tokens and paper money in British collections.
Funded by The Royal Numismatic Society and the British Numismatic Society, the Network aims to facilitate dialogue and debate around research methodologies, interpretation, display and learning programmes.
1) Act as an information exchange for curators within the UK whose collections include coins, medals, and other objects relating to monetary and economic history and numismatics.
2) Provide information on best practices, new research, and news items relating to the understanding, care, recording, and public access of those collections.
3) Encourage and facilitate collaborative ventures between the curators of those collections and \ nurture links between those curators and individuals outside museums interested in related subject areas.
4) Make the broad case for the potential of those collections and the importance of numismatic expertise for bringing them effectively to a wide audience.
5) Work to identify new and exciting ways in which those collections can be presented to the public.
The MMN was first established by the Department of Coins and Medals at the British Museum in 2008. In 2011 funding was secured from Arts Council England’s Subject Specialist Network programme which enabled the appointment of a project curator. The mission of the MMN was to develop relationships between UK museums and other public collections of coins, medals, banknotes and associated objects, and to promote links between these bodies and individual enthusiasts and collectors around the country.
One of the two principal activities of the Network was to make assessment visits to numismatic collections around the country, with a view to assessing how the MMN could support each collection, and to present an outline of the institution and its collection to a wide audience via its website. A whopping 207 visits were made to collections in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. As the testimonials below reveal, Henry’s visits were hugely beneficial to many collections. He learnt about each collection and, where appropriate, gave practical advice on collections care, display and other matters. Face-to-face contact was hugely important in building long-term partnerships and getting a tangible sense of each collection. In this way visits helped provide vital information about collections and opened up conversations about realising their full potential. Many of Henry’s visits provided the spark for subsequent numismatic projects, which could include identification and cataloguing, improvements to collections storage, or developing their use in other types of public engagement. While museum collections comprised the majority of visits, there was a strong desire to include institutions not typically noted as housing numismatic collections. In this way diverse collections such as those of the Armagh Public Library, Birmingham Assay Office, Carmarthen Museum, Chatsworth House, Mary Rose Museum, Magic Circle Museum, and the Museum of British Golf in St Andrews are now part of the collections survey and on the map as collections that might be of interest to numismatists. The scope of Henry’s visits was remarkable, including nationals, university museums, small, volunteer-run, museums, country houses, military collections and many more.
One of the core aspects of the MMN’s remit was the provision of numismatic training for people working or volunteering in UK museums. The Money and Medals training programme was launched in 2013 and spread across the UK, seeking participants in any museum role and equipping them with new, practical skills, and providing a forum for making useful new contacts in the sector. Free introductory training events were held all over the country, ranging from large symposia or handling sessions at the British Museum to smaller regional training days, focusing on a specific subject of need identified by visits to collections in the area. One of the legacies of the MMN is the group of regional networks that were established following assessment visits and training days. Henry and the team involved in the MMN so far would like to take this opportunity to thank each individual and institution for their support in making the project such a success over the years.