Crypto-currencies making history – Museums and Digital Culture

Digital currency, whether it drops off the face of the earth tomorrow or stuffs our digital wallets until the end of time, has already cemented itself in monetary history.

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Crypto-currencies making history – Museums and Digital Culture

Digital currency, whether it drops off the face of the earth tomorrow or stuffs our digital wallets until the end of time, has already cemented itself in monetary history. And like every other piece of history, museums will want to adorn their halls with them. So the question begs, are museums the proper locale to conserve a currency that is more or less an address on the internet? If so, how?

 
If your answer to that question is “no,” then you can already head to two digital currency museums on the internet. The first gallery you can check out is The Bitcoin Museum. Upon entering the museum, you’re greeted by Walter, the Assistant Curator of the museum. Walter explains the museum’s mission:
“Our goal here is to archive and store all physical Bitcoin memorabilia, items, devices and novelties for the future. Our hopes is to one day display all these items in an actual physical museum for all the public to see.”
The museum is run from Cannonvale, Australia, and accepts Bitcoin items as donations. Currently, the site has four exhibitions. “Coins, Bullion & Bills” has a vast collection of physical bitcoins, Bitcoin cards, Bitbills and bullion bars. Moving onto the “Mining” hall you will find a respectable assortment of mining devices and other parts used to create Bitcoin. The “Wearable” gallery shows Bitcoin-themed fashion throughout the years, while the “Other” hall has miscellaneous crypto-currency items, including magazines, bottle openers, keychains, and even energy drinks.
 
The other online crypto-currency museum is also called the Bitcoin Museum, although the web address omits the “The.” Fans of the Million Dollar Homepage will feel right at home at the museum, as it is nothing more than a pixel grid with image-based links to crypto-currency-related websites and pretty stripped-back in aesthetics. The site says that the “domain will be registered for 50 years, so your space is there to remain yours ‘forever.’ Reserve a permanent position on the board that's yours forever,” although some people dispute this supposed guarantee.
 
But perhaps sitting behind your computer screen just doesn’t give you the bliss of roaming the halls of an actual, physical museum. For now, you’re in luck… if you’re in London. The Citi Money Gallery of the British Museum displays over 4,000 years of monetary history, and includes crypto-currency. The gallery displays mining USB chips, Bitcoin tokens, Dogecoin magazines, and other digital currency mementos.
 
Benjamin Asop, Curator of the British Museum, discusses why the digital currency in a physical museum was a complex exhibition to put together:
 
“This is really just a token for the collectors’ market, a physical manifestation of something which was never intended to exist in a tangible way. So the display at first did seem rather tricky, tricky but not impossible. Objects are at the very heart of everything we do at the museum and while we couldn’t display a real ‘bitcoin’, there was a wealth of other material culture which could help tell the story.”
 
The gallery is also asking people for “thoughts on what other objects would help tell the story.”
 
It seems a big ask to try to represent something as rich and complicated as the history and culture of digital money in a non-virtual world. Godspeed to these museums.
 
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