The RBI Monetary Museum, Mumbai has been set up to document and preserve India’s monetary heritage and present it to the public. It is also intended to encourage research into the evolution of money in India. The museum, besides seeks to serve as a significant repository of this heritage.
The story of the evolution of money comes alive in the RBI Monetary Museum. From the age-old system of barter and the emergence of coinage to the modern day innovations in money, here we come face to face with India’s rich monetary heritage.
Money is an intrinsic component of the cultural heritage of a country. India was one of the earliest issuers of coins in the world and has been home to many-a-monetary experiment recorded in history. The Reserve Bank of India as the monetary authority of the country has initiated the documentation and preservation of this rich and varied legacy. The Monetary Museum at Mumbai is the first of its kind in the country. It has also been envisioned as a window to the Reserve Bank’s outreach programmes. Today, the Museum has a representative collection of over 10000 exhibits of Indian coinage, paper currency, financial instruments and monetary curiosities. Given the vast canvas, over 1500 exhibits on display provide a ringside view of the birth of currencies, their growth and the emergence of modern day money.
The RBI Monetary Museum is located in Amar Building (Ground Floor) adjoining the Reserve Bank Main Building in the Fort area, which is a heritage district of Mumbai. Entry is free and the museum timing is Tuesday to Sunday from 10:45 to 17:15 hours. The museum is closed on Monday and bank holidays. Requests can also be made for Museum Guides for group tours.
What does the Reserve Bank do?
The RBI has the mandate to ensure that prices remain stable and there is enough money for economic growth. The Bank also works towards keeping the banking system safe and stable.
This section provides a glimpse of the functions of the central bank of the country, its role in the economy and how it touches the day-to-day life of the common man.
This section aims to spread public awareness about how currency is managed in India, the journey of the notes and coins from birth to death and the features of the contemporary Mahatma Gandhi series of notes.
Issue of Indian paper money, in its modern sense, dates back to the late 18th century. The display begins with early nineteenth century notes issued by private banks and three Presidency banks – the Bank of Bengal, Bank of Bombay and Bank of Madras, which were later merged to form Imperial Bank, now known as the State Bank of India. On view are notes issued by the Government of India under the monopoly power granted by the Paper Currency Act of 1861, followed by notes issued by the Reserve Bank, the sole issuer of bank notes since 1935 under the RBI Act, 1934. The entire range of Republic India note issued can be seen here. One can discern how the design of notes has changed over time – to capture the essence of history, to incorporate security features, to portray symbols of national sovereignty, to reflect the country’s economic and social development and so on. The display also includes representative notes of the Princely States and other territories and a collection of exigent money.
The Idea of Money Section depicts how money has changed in appearance and substance and evolved from barter to coins to the present day bank notes and e-money. On view is money in various shapes, sizes, metals as well as miscellaneous curiosities including some of the smallest coins in the world. The exhibits range from a Neolithic Axe to Stored Value Cards. Many names of money can be rediscovered here, some of which have gone into oblivion and some are in use even today.
The Coinage section presents a glimpse of coinage from the ancient punch-marked coins dating back to 6th century BC, which are amongst the earliest coins issued, down to the present. On view is Coinage of the Ancient era; the Medieval period; the Princely States and Regional powers; the Indo-European companies; British India coinage; and the regular and commemorative coins of the Republic India. The coins not only serve as a medium of exchange, but also tell a story – of the rise and fall of empires; the evolution in art forms; the advances in minting technology; the transition from precious metals to tokens and so on.
The journey from coins to paper money reveals how society started accepting tokens of money in lieu of money in terms of the value of the metal and how the concept of “Promises to Pay” originated. On display are a variety of financial instruments such as promissory notes, bills of exchange and cheques. There is also a section dedicated to hundies, which were instruments used by indigenous bankers in India.
Source: Reserve Bank of India Portal