28 February 2024

It's all change as the Mint tells new stories about the coins in your pocket

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Andrew Leigh

Andrew Leigh opens the new Mint exhibition in Civic Square. Photo: Genevieve Jacobs.

Like stamps and camera film, spare change was once an everyday item.

It’s now the subject of profound change (so to speak) as the modern world transforms its role in ways we could never have imagined. But the coins you might still jingle in your pocket have their own stories to tell.

The Royal Australian Mint is Australia’s national mint and sole producer of circulating coins for the country, custodian of the National Coin Collection and marker of significant anniversaries, events and organisations through its comparative coin releases.

Officially opened in 1965, its first task was to produce distinctive Australian coinage for the decimal currency changeover. But as the elegant Deakin building is now undergoing its own renovations, the Mint needs somewhere to tell its story.

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Enter Canberra Museum and Gallery’s new space in Civic Square. Spaces adjacent to the Canberra Museum and Gallery that once housed a restaurant and the ACT Electoral Commission are now – temporarily – home to the Mint’s display space and shop.

Set against a backdrop of the new coins depicting King Charles and the overwhelmingly familiar profile of the late Queen, Mint CEO Leigh Gordon reflected not only on the Mint’s history but also on what the future holds for the currency that’s told so many of our stories, noting that 25 collectors lined up yesterday for the Mint’s latest coin release.

Three men cut a ribbon

Mint CEO Leigh Gordon, Member for Fenner Andrew Leigh and CFC CEO Gordon Ramsay cut the ribbon to the new Mint exhibition space at CMAG. Photo: Genevieve Jacobs.

Cultural Facilities Corporation (CFC) CEO Gordon Ramsay described the collaboration between the Mint and CFC as “a wonderful intersection of history, creativity and collaboration between two Canberra organisations”.

Mr Ramsay said the Mint collaboration was “a great demonstration of how creativity sparks when we work together”.

He added that the Mint’s temporary relocation represented more than a change of scenery, but an opportunity to foster cultural tourism, enliven Civic Square and bring many more visitors inside the Gallery to explore stories like the award-winning Canberra/Kamberri – Place & People permanent exhibition.

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CMAG can certainly expect an influx of visitors. There are already 24,000 school children booked to visit the exhibition and, consequently, there’s little doubt that Civic Square will be “reinvigorated and re-energised” as they flood through.

The exhibition includes parts of the National Coin Collection that have never been on public display, while the shop has a wide range of coins and numismatic collectables.

Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury, and Member for Fenner, Andrew Leigh, who opened the exhibition, said the collaboration marked a significant stride for the Mint and the CFC.

“The Change in your Pocket exhibition is designed to captivate and educate, presenting an innovative angle on the role coins and currency play in our daily routines. It promises a unique showcase, revealing treasures previously hidden from the public eye, sure to captivate numismatics and curious minds alike,” Dr Leigh said.

The Mint Coin Shop and Change in your Pocket exhibition at CMAG are open to the public from 10 am to 4 pm on weekdays and 12 midday to 4 pm on weekends.

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