Bank of England Museum
The Bank of England Museum is located within the Bank of England in the City of London. Its entrance is in Bartholomew Lane, off Threadneedle Street, close to Bank junction and Bank tube station. The museum is open to the general public, free of charge, on weekdays (excluding bank holidays) and on the day of the Lord Mayor's Show.
Previously, access to the Bank's collections had been by appointment only and visitors were escorted through the Bank to a small display area. In the 1980s the Bank of England decided that it would like to make its collections (and indeed itself) available to a greater audience and so planned to create a new museum which would open in 1994, the year of the Bank's tercentenary. However, a fire in 1986 caused severe damage to the area of the Bank above the proposed site and it was decided to begin work then rather than repair and rebuild later. The work took about 18 months to complete and the new museum, designed by exhibition consultants Higgins Gardner & Partners, was opened in 1988 by Queen Elizabeth II. In the same year it received the City Heritage Award and the Stone Federation Award for Outstanding Craftsmanship.
The Bank of England Museum covers around 10,000 sq ft (1,000 sq m) and displays a wide-ranging collection detailing the history of the Bank from its foundation in 1694 to the modern day. The displays include a reconstruction of a late-18th century office; known as the Stock Office, this is where holders of Bank stock would come to collect their dividends. Displays in this area cover the history of the bank in roughly chronological order, including many images showing the rebuilding of the Bank in the inter-war years, and several figures in appropriate attire. Another section, called The Bank Today, uses modern technology to bring the Bank's current activities to a wider audience.
In the rotunda area at the end of the tour, displays include the Bank's collections of notes and coins, books and documents, pictures, furniture, statues, silver and a genuine bar of gold (99.79% pure gold) that can be handled.
Kenneth Grahame, the author of The Wind in the Willows, worked for 30 years at the Bank, rising to the rank of Secretary, and the museum has a permanent display which includes his dramatic resignation letter.
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