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The World of Paper Money

12 November 2004 - 14 February 2005
The Benois Wing

The World of Paper Money exhibition is the first ever exhibition in the Russian Museum devoted to the history of currency in Russia. The show presents paper banknotes, tracing the history of their existence in Russia over almost two and a half centuries. The exhibition shows the first Russian paper money, its modest design corresponding to the technical opportunities of the day and age; such graphic masterpieces as the Katenkas and Petrushas with their engraved portraits of Russian tsars; the banknotes of the Provisional Government; and the first money issued by the new Soviet republic, reflecting the reality of the social and political situation in the country in the first decades of the twentieth century. The pay-receipts circulated in the GULAG camps offers a sense of the atmosphere of the 1930s. Numerous notes of various face-values of the 1990s remind us of the economic changes in the country during the last two decades. The close connections between the fates of people, the state and banknotes, treasury notes and other banknotes make money an important source of historical information. Money reflects the economic development of the country, showing the character of the epoch and reflecting the political doctrines of each different period. Each banknote provides information on the state which issued it and the political views of the authorities, often functioning as works of propaganda during turning points in history. Such outstanding painters and graphic artists as Nikolai Sauerweid, Sergei Chekhonin, Ivan Bilibin, Georgy Narbut, Ivan Shadr and Alfred Eberling were often involved in their creation. Banknotes are an original form of art, in which the skill of a painter, engraver, printer and master of paper-making are merged together. Banknotes can also be considered as an element of a mass culture as these perfect samples of polygraphy are, to some extent, accessible to us all. The exhibition is organized by the Russian Museum and the Savings Bank of the Russian Federation