Mu$eum focused on finance reopens in NYC

The New York Times yesterday carried an article on the reopening of the Mu$eum of American Finance, the only public museum in the world dedicated to the history and workings of finance.

Wouldn’t you think that a mu$eum celebrating the financial world should be a private one? That’s not the case, however; it’s affiliated with the Smithsonian, even though it was founded by a private individual.

According to the Times:

The museum was founded by John E. Herzog, an avid collector of old bond and stock certificates, when the crash of 1987 occurred. Given the lack of perspective at the time on the regularity of financial crises throughout American history, he wanted to start a museum that could provide Wall Street with a collective institutional history.

“Americans needed to know more about the capital markets,” Mr. Herzog said. “If the money stuff in society is not working, you really don’t have a society.”

From descriptions of earlier exhibits at the old building, the mu$eum seems to deal with the topics in a straightforward rather than a snarky way. One exhibit focused on the life and career of John D. Rockefeller and the rise of the Standard Oil Company. Another on the history of Wells Fargo, still around though with a somewhat different orientation. Still others looked at “Pan Am and the Golden Age of Air Travel” and the history and background of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Located now at 48 Wall Street, this may be a good time to visit, for it may be that as a “public” institution with more attention focused on it, the mu$eum may become more politicized and politically correct. Some of us remember controversies in Washington, D.C. over the Smithsonian’s Enola Gay exhibit in 1995, and the “Science and American life” exhibit in 1994.