Money talks for Perse historians at Fitzwilliam Museum

Perse A level history pupils had a fantastic learning opportunity at the Fitzwilliam Museum on Wednesday 2 November

The students attended a seminar and an exhibition on the defacement of currency throughout history, with speakers including artists, historians, and museum creators.

DEFACED is an exhibition running at the Fitzwilliam Museum until 8 January and showcases a series of art pieces on themes of finance and economics. It explored how historically people have used defaced currency to as objects of protest and rebellion.

They heard from Hilary Powell and Paula Stevens-Hoare about how they’ve used their defaced or destroyed currency to protest and educate about economics, finance, and politics. This included hearing about Hilary’s piece Big Bang 2, where she exploded a “debt in transit” van.

The students then learnt from Richard Kelleher about the history of money in times of conflict and war. They looked at defaced coins throughout history, from the Spanish civil war to the reign of Napoleon III to the Iraq war. This provided a valuable overview of an important topic in economic history.

Finally, Tom Hockenhull spoke about an exhibition he curated at the British Museum in collaboration with Ian Hislop, and more generally about his job as Curator of Medals and Modern Money at the British Museum.

The trip provided a valuable opportunity for students to step outside the curriculum, and to learn a niche aspect of history not normally covered in detail by A level history courses.

The students enjoyed the trip, with Perse pupils asking many questions of the speakers, and displaying thorough interest in the subject matter of the talks.

Thank you to the Fitzwilliam Museum for having us and for all the speakers for talking to our students.


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