Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History Tells History of “Women on Money”
The newest addition to the National Museum of American History’s “Stories on Money” gallery will open March 18 in conjunction with Women’s History Month. “Women on Money” will focus on the vital contributions of women to national and world history with more than 50 examples of currency featuring women. The display will be on view indefinitely.
“Women on Money” includes women depicted on international and American money, as well as female figures representing national ideals and ideas. The display was inspired by the recent U.S. Treasury announcement that the agency plans to redesign the $10 note to depict a historic woman.
“The U.S. Department of Treasury’s planned redesign of the $10 note to include a woman will mark the first major change to the appearance of American paper money since the late 1920s,” said Ellen Feingold, curator of the museum’s National Numismatic Collection. “This is an opportunity for Americans to think about the many roles that women have played in the making of our nation.”
Women have appeared on money for more than 2,000 years; governments worldwide have used coins and notes to commemorate the achievements of women in politics, social movements and the arts and sciences, and to convey national ideals. Visitors will learn that although Lady Liberty has frequently appeared on American money, very few historic women have, among them Martha Washington, Pocahontas, Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea.
“Women on Money” includes coins from ancient empires, banknotes from America’s early days and modern money from around the globe; women depicted on money range from Cleopatra VII, pharaoh of Egypt, to Indira Gandhi, a prime minister of India.
Other highlights include:
- Solidus coin, Constantinople (797–802), depicting Irene, empress of the Byzantine Empire
- Half pound coin, England (1567–70), featuring Queen Elizabeth I
- $10 note, New Zealand (2013), showing Kate Sheppard, suffragette
- $1 silver certificate, United States (1886), featuring Martha Washington
- $20 coin, the “1933 Double Eagle” of the United States, depicting Liberty
- 1 pence proof coin, United Kingdom (1806), depicting Britannia
The “Stories on Money” gallery also features “America’s Money,” which examines how money changed from colonial days to the present and explores the renaissance of American coinage.
The National Museum of American History explores the infinite richness and complexity of American history. For more information, visit https://americanhistory.si.edu. The museum is located on Constitution Avenue, between 12th and 14th streets N.W. Admission is free.