• Money is the subject of MHCAM's latest collection-focused exhibition

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    October 04, 2019
    Inspired by a history class taught at Mount Holyoke College, money is the subject of MHCAM's latest collection-focused exhibition
    SOUTH HADLEY, Massachusetts - "Money Matters: Meaning, Power, and Change in the History of Currency" explores an array of art and cultural objects related to the history of modern currency. Opening August 31 at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum (MHCAM), the exhibition will be on view through June 21, 2020. 
    Inspired by student engagement with the collection as part of Associate Professor Desmond Fitz-Gibbon's spring 2019 "Histories of Money" seminar, the installation prompts viewers to reconsider their own ideas about currency. From Babylonian clay tablets, to coins of the British suffragette movement, and a new painting acquisition by contemporary artist Stan Natchez, "Money Matters" examines money and its relationship to power. Together, these diverse objects evidence how the currency of the ancient world is connected to how money is used in a material sense and to assert authority today. Moreover, the show presents the work of contemporary makers as a way to critically engage with this historic record and its rich visual lexicon.
    "Money comes in a surprising multitude of forms and serves a variety of functions," says Fitz-Gibbons, "We can trade it, we can hoard it, we can use it to measure our debts. But, as this exhibition demonstrates, money is so much more than this." Rather than an in depth chronicle of one aspect of numismatics, however, thematic groupings selected by students highlight the many ways in which money, across time, has shaped societies socially and politically. Money conveys the history of power, in addition to the history of everyday life, of trust, of social transformation, and even of war and revolution. "Money Matters" is the first exhibition to showcase the depth and breadth of the MHCAM's significant numismatic collection.
    Highlights of the exhibition include:
    • The twenty detailed silver coins included in the exhibition from across the ancient Greek city states are regarded as some of the most beautiful coins ever made.
    • Unexpected juxtapositions of ancient and modern coins and paper bills.
    • From the mints of Mexico to the homes of Chinese merchants, don't miss a selection of eighteenth-century Spanish colonial coinage that have made their way around the globe.
    In conjunction with this exhibition, MHCAM will host:
    • A gallery talk with Desmond Fitz-Gibbons, Associate Professor of History, and students on Thursday, October 10 at 4:30 to 5:15PM in the Museum galleries.
    About the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum
    The Mount Holyoke College Art Museum (MHCAM) aims to spark intellectual curiosity and creativity through direct engagement with works of art and material culture. Founded in 1876, the Museum's collection comprises more than 24,000 objects, including exemplary Greek, Roman and Egyptian antiquities; art and artifacts from the indigenous Americas; paintings, sculpture and decorative art from Europe and the United States; photography, prints, ceramics and numismatics; and works by women artists. In recent years, the Museum has made significant acquisitions of global contemporary art, including works by Afruz Amighi, Ambreen Butt, Zanele Muholi, Kiki Smith, Alec Soth, Lin Tianmiao, Kara Walker, Carrie Mae Weems and others. Through thought-provoking exhibitions and educational programs, MHCAM serves as a nexus for experiential learning across academic disciplines and as a resource for the broader community.
    MHCAM is free, open to the public, and fully accessible. Hours are Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. For additional information, please visit artmuseum.mtholyoke.edu.