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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Can't Buy Me Money, Money, Money

Spring is always welcome, but the soon-to-return foliage will hinder most of the winter views like this

Just when you think you've seen it all in Vilnius, you stumble upon something new. For my daughter and I on the weekend before Easter this meant visiting the Money Museum of the Bank of Lithuania, located on the corner of Totoriu gatvė and Gedimino prospektas. While we'd been aware of its existence for quite some time, we hadn't ventured inside until this moment:


A museum devoted to money may not sound very appealing to a non-numismatic, but the Pinigų Muziejus was a pleasant surprise, making it another surprise as to why it isn't included in the guide books. We began with the basement, in the History of Money Hall, presenting the development of cash from its primitive beginnings as grain, shells etc. to the electronic money of today:

 Ancient Chinese coins


My weight in gold, silver and platinum, as expressed in €, $ and ¥. In my defense, I was wearing several layers of clothing including a heavy jacket (the high that day was only 7°C/45°F), and I was carrying a backpack. Honest:


A side room in the basement has items from Lithuania's time as an independent state between the two world wars:



Amber poses in front of a pyramid made from one million litas coins, the currency of Lithuania until its replacement by the euro at the beginning of 2015. It's a certified Guinness World Record...for something:


On the main floor upstairs are displays on the history of banking and contemporary money. The coolest exhibit is a large video screen - select a country from a computer program, and the wall will present information on the selected state's political system, area, population and GDP, as well as give examples of its currency. We called up a number of countries, including Ethiopia (our next destination)...:


...and Taiwan, my daughter's birthplace and other country of nationality:



Though I'm aware of their existence, I've yet to come across any 100, 200 or 500 euro notes in daily life

In the Lithuanian Money Hall, visitors can examine examples of bills and coins starting from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and continuing up to the very recent past:


The Money Museum isn't very large, but there are plenty of interactive exhibits to keep visitors engaged. Oh, and there's no admission fee to get in. A free museum devoted to money? Now that's a bargain!

I've passed by this statue on numerous occasions during the time we've been here in Vilnius, but it was only a couple of days ago that I learned the person on the pedestal is a controversial figure in Lithuania. Petras Cvirka is honored for his literary work, but is also reviled by some for his support of Lithuania's forcible incorporation into the Soviet Union. I'd always assumed the statue had been erected after Lithuania resumed its independence in 1990, one of many local heroes taking the place of a despised Socialist monument, but it turns out it was the Soviets themselves who erected this in the late 1940's:


Lunch on a Sunday afternoon. What we took to be a new Chinese restaurant called Happy Panda turned out to be the same establishment as before - the menus still bear the Asia Tasty name, along with the same Czech beer. Even the same Chinese documentaries are still being shown on the wall-screen TV. The food isn't bad, actually:


The weather was close to perfect this afternoon, making it a shame to stay indoors after lunch. So while the girls retreated to their devices in the living room, I went out for a walk, eventually reaching the Cemetery of German Soldiers (Vokiečių karių kapinės), just outside of Vingis Park. It's a peaceful spot that was restored as a final resting place in 2001 after the Soviets had ripped up all the gravestones before turning the site into a playground and a public toilet (see here and here). A memorial to the heroes of the world war (according to Google Translate; not sure if it's I, II or both):


Local pride on display looking down Geležinio Vilko gatvė:


Back to the Money Museum - one of the interactive displays involved a quiz on the Lithuanian litas. If you answered 3 out of 4 questions correctly, you could choose a money-related video to watch - the choices included "Can't Buy Me Love' by the Beatles; ABBA's "Money, Money, Money"; and even "Money, Money" from Cabaret. Unfortunately, this wasn't one of the choices:


2 comments:

  1. Excellent jim. Glad you're still doing this.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! Or as they say here in Lithuania, Ačiū!

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