Get out of this pool this summer and learn about the flow of money at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. With school out of session, it’s important to keep your mind ticking with mental exercises. Touring At-lanta’s Federal Reserve Bank is a fascinating and free educational experience- and certainly one that is hard to replicate in the classroom. Visitors get a big picture of the many ways the Fed helps our economy run smoothly in the Monetary Museum with interactive exhibits and guided tours. Amy Hennessey, director of economic education, said the Atlanta Fed includes a variety of visuals and lessons to make learning easy and accessible.
“We have a number of interactive exhibits and games to test your knowledge of finance. The ‘go with the flow’ game allows people to better understand how we as consumers interact with businesses and banks,” Hennessey said. The cash overlook into the bank’s automated vault is one of the most impressive features at the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank. Visitors can see hundreds of thousands of dollars counted, sorted and even destroyed. Hennessy said that on average the bank shreds 20 million tons of worn out currency in a month.
“We are one of the few museums in the system to have a cash overlook for visitors. In this area you can look directly into cash processing, with a fully automated operation that moves cash deposits, feeds bank notes, authenticates deposits made by banks, and destroys damaged bills,” Hennessy said.
In addition to this unique tour, the zone features five video kiosks that show inside the vault and a pocket theatre with two short videos written and designed to educate the general public. The Monetary Museum’s main gallery features historical artifacts that tell the story of how money evolved from barter to modern times. Visitors can also learn about counterfeit detection and the history of inflation internationally. For example, the bank has a 100 quintillion Hungarian pengö note from 1946 on display to show that inflation has plagued many nations far worse than it has the United States. What one pengö bought in August 1945, it took 38 octillion (38,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) pengös to buy in July 1946.
This museum houses many rare coins and currency, including a gold bar worth over half a million dol-lars. Hennessy said the Atlanta Fed prides itself on having a complete set of all of the gold coins minted from 1838-1861 at the Dahlonega Mint. The Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank has many guided tours for schools, homeschool groups, boy scouts and girl scouts and other clubs. Hennessy said that guided tours are in such high demand that groups must book four to five months out.
Older students can supplement basic economic and budgeting classes from school with camps at the At-lanta Fed. This summer the bank has partnered with the Rosen Foundation to deliver “Creating Wealthy Hab-its”, two day camps designed to give students a competitive edge by teaching them to think differently about making, spending and saving money.
Hennessy said, “We provide public service to help everyone, young and old, understand the role the Fed-eral Reserve System plays in economic activity and promoting economic stability.”
Monetary Museum is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Tours and walk-ins free to all visi-tors. www.frbatlanta.org
– Grace Simmons