Currency Museum

Currency Museum

The Currency Museum of the Bank of Canada houses an exhibition on the history and evolution of money in Canada and around the world. It also hosts temporary exhibitions on money-related themes. The museum presents programmes that interpret Canada’s economic heritage, teaches about bank notes and the Canadian financial system and increases public awareness of the Bank of Canada.

Glass beads
Cacao Beans

 What do these images have in common?
Answer: They were all once used as mediums of exchange (forms of currency)!!


The museum will be closing  on JULY 2, 2013 for a three year period.  During this time period, the museum will be completely re-designed and modernized.  They will also be organizing several travelling exhibitions–check their website for complete details.



The Currency Museum opened in 1980 and exhibits the largest collection of Canadian bank notes, coins and tokens with over 100,000 artifacts. The Currency Museum also boasts hundreds of unique exchange media, collections of foreign money from ancient times to present times, and a library of over 8,000 volumes.

The Collection also assembles items that are related to money such as dies, rolls, plates, graving tools, weights, scales, counterfeits, cash registers and savings banks.


The Bank of Canada building was renovated and extended in the late 1970s. The Canadian architect Arthur Erickson was responsible for creating a public space for a museum and a glassed-in atrium.

The Currency museum has been updated with new areas that include environmentally controlled storage vaults, work areas, a conservation lab, photographic studio, library & rare book room, staff offices and reception areas.



  • CENTimental Journey – An exhibit showcasing important moments in the history of the penny.
  • In the Money travelling Exhibition – This exhibition explores the science behind note-based currency.

GALLERY 1What is Money?Objects used to settle commercial transactions, to save up value for future use, and as a unit of account

GALLERY 2The Evolution of Paper Money and Coins
Coins were easily transported and divisible, but subject to shortages. Paper notes were printed during these shortages.

GALLERY 3Early Currencies in Canada
Aboriginal wampum (shells), beaver pelts, French coins, and paper playing card money

GALLERY 4Currency in British North America
Wide variety of European coins of differing value and quality. Fully redeemable Army bills issued as paper moneyGovernments, banks and other authorities issue notes, tokens and coins.

GALLERY 5Dominion of Canada
1857 sees the adoption of the decimal systemMoney becomes standardized and coins become minted in 1908.Dominion notes become partly backed by gold and fix the value of the Canadian dollar. There is increasing government control over the production of currency.

GALLERY 6A Central Bank for Canada
1934: Bank of Canada becomes sole bank note-issuing authority in Canada. Their mission: 1) promote economic and financial welfare 2) design, produce and distribute Canada’s bank notes 3)develop security features

GALLERY 7Temporary exhibits
Past ones include: notorious counterfeiting families, lost 17th century colonial treasures, history of money and banking

GALLERY 8The Collector’s Corner
Canadian bank notes, coins, and colonial and merchant tokens, selections of ancient, medieval and contemporary pieces from around the world.


The regular guided tour takes an hour long and provides an overview of the collection. There is also a “Penalties of Counterfeiting” free audio tour. Group tours can be arranged with reservations. There is no admission charge to the museum, guided tours, or programmes.


Tuesday – Saturday 10:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

CLOSED Sundays and Mondays


Currency Museum of the Bank of Canada
245 Sparks Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1 0G9

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