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a public center for economics education

720 19th Street, N.W. - Washington, DC 20431

Permanent Exhibits  -  Changing Exhibits

Permanent Exhibits
Money Matters: The Importance of Global Cooperation

Although money affects all our lives and we deal with it every day we understand very little about the role and importance of money and the international monetary system. Do you know how the economy of one country is affected by what goes on in other countries? Do you know what causes the value of a currency to go up or down? This permanent exhibit tells the story of the international monetary system, how it affects our daily lives, and the role of the International Monetary Fund in the global economy.

IMF Center Exhibit
IMF Center Exhibit
Ancient Trade Route Collection
"...and Allah created the two precious metals, gold and silver, to serve as a measure of the value of all commodities..."
Ibn Khaldun

This collection of ancient coins is a historical representation of trade between ancient civilizations. Coins serve historians as markers of time. They confirm the powers in place in any given region and define the "money trails" that connected the ancient world. Trade played a key role in transforming attitudes toward precious metal - from it being valued chiefly as weighed bullion to it becoming equally acceptable in the form of coins. In the Near East, the monetary use of precious metals dates back to the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt. Small pieces of electrum, a naturally occurring amalgam of silver and gold, were stamped with the king's seal to officially designate them as "money." As the first "world currency," staters circulated widely in a flourishing, sea-going trade linking Greek ports with those in Carthage, Egypt, Syria, Italy, and other remarkably distant realms. The sheer extent of this ancient intercontinental trade-based on a civilization shaped by mercantile, not military imperatives-seems all the more amazing given the absence of roads connecting the port cities with the inland kingdoms. By 100 AD, camel caravans were routinely plying the Persian and Kushan Empires exchanging war horses for silk, bronze tools, carved jade, and medicinal herbs. The "Silk Road" was one of the most important economic and cultural connections ever established.

Seven Economists Poster Exhibit

What are physiocrats? How did mercantilism help move the Middle Ages out of feudalism? What is the "principle of population" and who developed it?

The Seven Economists exhibit represents the theories of reknowned economists and thinkers, from Ancient Greece through the Middle Ages. From Plato to Adam Smith to John Maynard Keynes, these are the minds that helped shape global economic systems.

The economic and social paradigms of some of the greatest minds in history are presented in this historical study of the political economy. While St. Thomas Aquinas advocated the permissibility of private property in a feudal system, Karl Marx argued that economics was dominating factor in history as expressed through class struggle, and Adam Smith put forth his ideas on the "division of labor."

This poster exhibit is located in the foyer of the IMF Center auditorium.

Changing Exhibits
The Wild Wired World of ECommerce - [Until end of 2003]

The International Monetary Fund is proud to present this ecommerce exhibit as part of a series of exhibits portraying our evolving global economy. It highlights the fascinating facts...faces...and future of the dynamic new electronic economy now taking the world by storm. Rapid evolution and tumultuous change are landmarks of the internet economy. It's a history in the making that will profoundly affect our lives in ways we can't yet predict. So hang on, and enjoy a wild ride!