Expanded St. Louis Fed Money Museum reopens with more bang for your buck | Lifestyles

Most St. Louis attractions, especially the free ones, offer visitors excellent value for money. The latest free museum to reopen, the Downtown St. Louis Fed Economics Museum, offers visitors a great value.

The Federal Reserve takes care of shredding the money when its time is up in circulation. So when visitors leave, they receive a small bag of shredded money as a souvenir.

“The toughest puzzle in the world,” quips museum director Tom Shepherd, who is happy to see visitors walking through the doors again since the museum closed to the public in March 2020. It reopened this spring with another 1,400 square feet with a currency theme. space called the vault. The entire museum is now 7,000 square feet.

There, just before letting visitors roll in the stuff, the museum offers plenty of ways to interact with money. Visitors can:

  • Lift a real gold bar that weighs nearly 20 pounds and is nearly 10 inches long. The Museum of Economics is one of the few places in the country where visitors can raise a bar, and its value changes daily: Last week it was worth around $811,000. (And yes, the gold bar is attached to the wall when you lift it. You have to go through security to enter the museum, so keep the tools at home.)
  • Design your own motto, digitally or the old-fashioned way on a paper model. Visitors can take a selfie and add their own face to an invoice, personalizing it with their name, denomination, color and symbols.
  • Measure your waist with a shredded silver “Fed Shreds” tower. If you’re 5 feet tall, you’re worth $200,000 in shredded cash, 6 feet, $240,000, etc. (When shredded money is not donated as keepsakes or stuffed into a tower, it is transported for compost. The estimated life of a dollar bill is about 6½ years.)

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A brief video welcomes visitors to the St. Louis Fed Museum of Economics on Wednesday, May 4, 2022 inside the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Photo by Robert Cohen, [email protected]

Robert Cohen

Visitors can also explore the art of cash, marvel at some of the biggest notes ever printed (a $1 trillion note for your spending pleasure in Zimbabwe, anyone?), as well as colorful tickets with exotic birds, transparent panels and vertically oriented designs.

You can learn about the security features of US banknotes, see if you can spot counterfeits, view ancient and rare porcelain and glass coins, and spin the Journey of Money wheel, where you can learn how the money circulates in the economy.

The St. Louis Fed Museum of Economics opened in 2014. Nine of the nation’s 12 Federal Reserve Banks operate some sort of museum, and they’re all a little different, Shepherd says. The main visitors to the museum are school groups, although there have been none since it reopened in March. The Federal Reserve requires proof of vaccination against COVID-19, which limits certain groups.

Fortunately, the new exhibit was in the planning stages when the museum closed for the pandemic. During the shutdown, Shepherd has been working to put many of the exhibits online for teachers to use in classrooms. He hopes to see more school groups in the fall and is ready to welcome the summer crowds.

St. Louis Fed Economics Museum reopens to visitors

The new exhibition titled “The Vault” features exhibits including artistic money from around the world, historical money, the discovery of counterfeit bills and an opportunity to lift a real gold bar at the Museum of Economics. the St. Louis Fed on Wednesday, May 4. 2022 inside the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Photo by Robert Cohen, [email protected]

Robert Cohen

The museum is embedded in the bank’s historic lobby dating back to 1925, with historic photos on display behind ornate brass cashier doors. Visitors watch a short film projected above them of the seven-state region served by the Federal Reserve’s Eighth District.

The exhibition area includes several different zones with interactive elements that teach visitors about scarcity and human capital, global trade, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and the correlation between education, average salary and unemployment.

The exhibits are interactive – maybe a bit too much. There’s a reason there’s a sign that says ‘please don’t step on the sculpture’ on the 7-foot Jenga-like tower with sliding parts that include facts about laws and regulations banks, explains Shepherd. (The reason involved college kids.)

Another time, about two weeks after the museum opened in 2014, Shepherd heard screams inside. He raced to see a group of Lindenwood University students “having fun” playing in the interactive trading pit, where buyers and sellers see who can make the most money in a timed round.

“And I was just like, ‘Huh. It worked. Costs.’ It was nice to see that they were having fun like that.

St. Louis Fed Economics Museum reopens to visitors

High-tech interactive displays explain monetary policy to visitors to the St. Louis Fed Museum of Economics on Wednesday, May 4, 2022 inside the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Photo by Robert Cohen, [email protected]

Robert Cohen

Many exhibits are worthy of a selfie and Instagram. The gold bullion and cash tower are popular, and there’s also an 8-foot-diameter Lincoln Penny in the gallery and a silver cube in the lobby that shows what kind of space one’s notes have. million dollars would take (there’s really only $224 inside the cube; the rest is filler).

The Money Museum doesn’t spend much on marketing, but Shepherd appreciates that other downtown venues guide visitors there. In the summer, the museum attracts visitors looking to kill time before taking a tram to the top of the Gateway Arch, and people are pleasantly surprised, he says.

“For people coming in here, that’s not what they expect to see the Federal Reserve,” Shepherd says. “That’s kind of where we’re headed. One of the best compliments we get, especially from high school students, is the phrase “it’s a lot cooler than I thought”. I like this.”

St. Louis Fed Economics Museum

When 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday • Or Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Broadway and Locust Street • How much Free; proof of COVID-19 vaccination required • More information 314-444-7309; stlouisfed.org/economymuseum