In celebration of its centenary, in 1993 the Bank of Italy opened the Money Museum. The exhibition was designed by Ms Balbi De Caro, Director of Numismatics at the National Museum of Rome, who followed historical principles to select the exhibits from the large amount of material available.
On display in the museum are items from the Bank's collections, including a selection of some 40 clay tablets from Mesopotamia, around 800 coins (in gold, silver, copper and alloy) embracing a period stretching from ancient Greece to the present day, and more than 450 banknotes and other documents.
The wide range of exhibits, representing at least 5000 years of history, illustrate different aspects of numismatic art and the role that money has played in the various phases of economic history, as well as Italy's importance in antiquity and the middle ages.
An important section of the Money Museum is devoted to the "Oddo" Collection, consisting of more than 3,800 gold, silver, copper and alloy coins issued by the mints of Southern Italy and Sicily over a period running from the fall of the Western Roman Empire to modern times.
Pietro Oddo was Chief Cashier of the Rome branch of the Banco di Sicilia and in 1938 became the last Numismatic Secretary of King Victor Emmanuel III. Prior to taking up this prestigious post he put up for sale both his numismatic collection and his library. The Governor of the Bank of Italy at the time, Vincenzo Azzolini, recognized the importance of preserving such a valuable heritage, as well as the years of work that had gone into it, and purchased the entire collection.
The "Oddo" Collection covers a period which, despite the presence of a succession of peoples and kings from various parts of the world, saw the birth of some of the most important political and commercial centres of the Mediterranean, including Palermo and Naples. A noteworthy example of the coins struck by the Naples mint is the gold florin issued in 1343 during the reign of Joan of Anjou, testifying to the role of the monetary system and entrepreneurial activities in Florence at the time.
Another section of the museum houses the gold coins of modern states, which tell the story of monetary policy during a period when the aim was to achieve a European dimension and, in particular, the modern franc/lira currency regime came into being. After the Restoration of the monarchy in France, this regime was adopted in Belgium in 1831, in Italy in 1862 and in the countries of the Latin Monetary Union in 1865.
The Bank has since enlarged its numismatic collection with other acquisitions.
Two collections of paper currency, "Cocconcelli" and "Spinelli", were purchased in 1951 and 1989. Selected pieces are exhibited in the Banknote Room, where notes printed by the issuing banks of the Kingdom of Italy and, from 1893, by the Bank of Italy are also on display.
The Bank has continued to add progressively to its collection, making two further acquisitions in November 2007 and May 2008. These are:
- a series of rare local promissory notes issued by various Italian municipalities over the period 1866-1874, which are considered to be of special historical significance
- a series of notes issued by the Royal Finance Department between 1750 and 1781, including some extremely rare and even unique specimens, as well as three 'designs' for banknotes, dated 1944, by the American BankNote Company of New York, which the Bank of Italy had commissioned to print its notes (the contract was later cancelled); they are of considerable historical interest and two were acquired when the American company's archives were put up for auction.
Between 1999 and 2003 the Bank purchased some collections of Greek and Roman coins.
The earliest specimens on display in the Museum include a silver stater issued during the reign of Croesus, the last king of Lydia (561 - 546 BC). There are also coins from Magna Graecia and Sicily from the sixth century AD on, including coins from Syracuse bearing the head of Artemis-Arethusa, which are reputed to be among the most beautiful of antiquity. The Roman coins include a quinarius minted by Augustus, who enacted a sweeping reform of the Roman monetary system.
Between 2000 and 2002 the Bank acquired a collection of clay tablets from Mesopotamia.
The Sumerians wrote on these tablets, first using pictograms and later with cuneiform markings.
Close study has revealed, among other things, that from the third millennium BC silver and barley were used as medium of exchange, standard of value and store of wealth.
Access to the Money Museum
School parties of no more than 50 can visit the Museum free of charge from Monday to Friday, preferably at 9.30, except for the last Friday of the month. Visits should be booked at least 20 days before the chosen date by sending an email to email@example.com
The email must indicate the school’s contact person.
The same email can also be used to request a tour of Palazzo Koch’s art treasures.
The Bank of Italy will reply promptly by e-mail and will then send a letter of confirmation to the school by certified email. The school should send a list of participants by email at least one week before the visit.
The Museum can be booked for a free visit by private individuals on the last Saturday of the month (except for May and August) from 9.00 to 12.00.
During the visits, Bank of Italy staff members show visitors around the Museum’s collections of coins and banknotes.
Please contact us as follows:
For school party visits please contact the General Cashier’s Directorate
Tel. 06 47922318 - 06 47923318 - 06 47922511
Fax 06 47923989
For private Saturday bookings please go to the following link