Black Money: World Currencies Featuring African and African Diasporic History
Years of Black History
The Black Money Exhibit is an engaging “forest of money trees” laden with over 300 rare, obsolete, and currently circulating banknotes (paper money). The brainchild of Dr. Harcourt Fuller, this traveling exhibit includes currencies and related objects from more than 80 countries in Africa, Europe, and the Americas, and illustrates 10,000 years of Black history. Each note is beautifully designed – its own work of art.
Dr. Fuller conceived the Black Money Exhibit as a way to expose audiences to the importance of money – not just as something to spend, but also as a visual source of knowledge about world histories and cultures. A 1,000 Dinars Algerian banknote, for example, has images of prehistoric rock art dating to at least 8,000 BCE and shows thriving African civilizations in a fertile Sahara Desert. The oldest banknotes in the exhibit were issued by U.S. southern states in the 1850’s before the Confederacy. Most recently, a $10 bill issued by the Bank of Canada in 2018 features a successful Black businessperson and civil rights activist as the first Canadian woman to appear on a regularly circulating bank note.
As most people have never explored the vast bits of information embedded on paper currency, and certainly not on foreign currencies, the Black Money Exhibit provides an unparalleled experience. That holds true for the exhibit’s format as well. Designed to resemble a forest of the iconic Baobab tree (“tree of life”) of the African Savanna, each “tree” displays 30-35 banknotes. These are organized into 10 interrelated themes, taking visitors on a journey through the history, cultures, and lived experiences of Africans and people of African descent: