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The Exhibit

Exhibition Design & Themes


The central design concept of the Black Money Traveling Exhibition takes the form of a forest of “money trees,” featuring real pieces of currencies that are arranged in interrelated themes. These themes take visitors on a journey through some of the major milestones and episodes in the history and lived experiences of Africans and peoples of African descent globally, from ancient times to the present. It ends with an exhibit on how the future of Africa and the African Diaspora is projected on money. The main themes that form the Black Money Traveling Exhibition are:


  1. The Ancient African World
  2. Africana Art
  3. Slavery & Freedom
  4. Colonialism
  5. Decolonization, Nationalism & Independence
  6. Economic Development
  7. Black Music & Dance
  8. Black Women on Money
  9. Children’s Money Exhibit
  10. The Modern Africana World


Within these themes, you can explore the long, rich and complex history, cultures and experiences of Africans and peoples of African descent globally from ancient times to the present. The exhibition includes currencies depicting figures and monuments from Ancient Egypt such as the Head of the Sphinx, and the Mask of Pharaoh Tutankhamun (King Tut), and Queen Nefertiti; the learned city of Timbuktu in the Ancient Mali; Confederate States of America currencies depicting African-American slaves; “Freed women slaves cooking out” in Brazil; Toussaint L'Ouverture, leader of the Haitian Revolution; European colonialism in the Caribbean, French West Africa and British West Africa; women in Africa and the African Diaspora, who were commanders-in-chief and spiritual leaders of resistance movements against British slavery and colonialism in Jamaica (National Heroine Nanny of the Maroons) and Ghana (Asante Queen-Mother Nana Yaa Asantewaa).


Peoples of African descent have also played major roles as nationalist and military figures fighting to liberate their countries from colonialism, as exemplified by Lieutenant General Antonio Maceo in Cuba and General Gregorio Lúperon of the Dominican Republic. Currencies issued in the African world also depict traditional rulers, queens, kings and emperors, such as Ethiopia’s last monarch, Emperor Haile Selassie I. Paper money in the collection also feature the first leaders (Prime Ministers and Presidents) of independent countries in Africa and the African Diaspora, including Dr. Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Patrice Lumumba of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Julius Nyerere of Tanzania. International figures who have spearheaded the global struggle for black freedom from racism and apartheid, and for equality, civil and human rights have also been depicted on Africana paper currency. This includes the Jamaican National Hero and Pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey, and the South African Anti-Apartheid icon, and the first president of the post-Apartheid era, Nelson Mandela.


The economic realities of the black world, including the strength or weakness of particular national currencies, the connections between African and African Diasporic industries, labor and the world market, are common features of money in the black world. This is exemplified by a 100 trillion-dollar bill from Zimbabwe, and currency from Equatorial Guinea/Central African States, which shows the oil industry. The issue of the education of school children is depicted on currencies from Angola and Botswana.


Continue to explore this website for other examples of Black History on money.