The National Bank of Romania and Alpha Bank Romania organize the exhibition “Two sides of the same coin. Means of Transactions – Masterpieces of Art”


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The National Bank of Romania and Alpha Bank Romania are organizing, from September 22 2023 to March 1 2024, the exhibition “Two sides of the same coin. Means of Transactions – Masterpieces of Art”, an event held to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the collection. It is the first time that the Alpha Bank Numismatic Collection, one of the most important collections of ancient coins in the world, travels outside Greece and the first exhibition with international participation organized at the NBR Museum.

The exhibition event highlights the historical and cultural importance of coins and their role in communication and financial education, while marking the 50 – year anniversary of the Alpha Bank Numismatic Collection.

Through the 100 pieces hosted by the NBR Museum, visitors to the exhibition will be able to take an imaginary journey into the world of ancient Greece and Greek mythology. True works of art, the coins depict personalities and historical events or sporting events illustrating Hellenic culture and civilization and how it influenced the whole of European culture.

By organizing the exhibition The two sides of the coin: Means of exchange – Masterpieces of art, the National Bank of Romania is delighted to host in its museum, for half a year, some of the rarest and most valuable coins of humankind. They are part of the numismatic collection owned by Alpha Bank, which experts consider one of the most remarkable collections of ancient coins in the world. We are today in the habit of looking at money solely from the perspective of its immediate usefulness, which is only natural in a society and at a time when changes occur almost every day and everything comes off apace. Yet this was not always the case. There were historical times when currency was one of the key means of communication. Hard to believe or, perhaps, unbelievable for some, the tiny piece of metal played a role in Antiquity comparable to that of the present-day social media”, stated Mugur Isărescu, Governor of the National Bank of Romania.

The exhibition brings the most important coins of the Alpha Bank Numismatic Collection, one of the most valuable in the world, to the Romanian public. We are delighted to introduce visitors to the stories of the first coins ever minted and honored to collaborate with the National Bank of Romania in this project that highlights the historical importance of coins and the protection of cultural heritage. It is an educational endeavor for all ages and at the same time a reminder of the cultural and economic ties between Greece and Romania, as part of the commercial relations that developed over time. We hope it will be a unique way for children to discover the history of coins and an opportunity to learn about the role of money in human societies”, said Sergiu Oprescu, Executive President of Alpha Bank Romania and General Manager of the International Network of the Alpha Bank Group.

Alpha Bank Numismatic Collection is proud to present in Romania its first exhibition outside of Greece, featuring a collection of 100 historically important coins. Co-organized by Alpha Bank Romania and the National Bank of Romania, the exhibition ‘TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN’ focuses on two interpretations of coinage: the coin as a basic means of transaction and as a masterpiece of art. As a means of transaction, the coin first appeared in the second half of the seventh century BC, to facilitate everyday dealings between people in a circumscribed geographical area, to conduct trade, to remunerate soldiers and public functionaries, to cover the administration expenses and public works projects, and to pay taxes. The coin also functioned as a form of political messaging, enabling, mainly rulers, to showcase their authority, as well as the city-states to confirm their independent political existence and autonomy. At the same time, the coin is a masterpiece of art, reflecting the artistic trends and the creative talent of its engravers during the particular period of its circulation. The Greeks were the first to introduce the art of narration on a small metal flan, as well as the first to add their artistic inspiration on it, transforming the coin from a utilitarian object into an artwork. Coins depict persons and narrate events from the Greek mythology and historical times, mainly of Hellenic antiquity, also including persons and moments from the Roman and the Byzantine periods”, stated Dr. Dimitra Tsangari, Curator of the Alpha Bank Numismatic Collection.

It is for the first time in Romania that the public will be able to admire one of the oldest coins ever minted: a hekte of stater made of electrum, a natural alloy of gold and silver, struck in Asia Minor – in Ionia or Lydia – between 630 and 600 B.C. The exhibition also presents the first Greek coins struck in Aegina, coins used in international transactions, such as the Athenian owls and the Alexandrian tetradrachms, or coins from Callatis and Histria.

The exhibition also has a section dedicated to the visually impaired, which presents 10 rare coins from the collection and their story in Braille.

The Alpha Bank Numismatic Collection numbers around 11,000 ancient coins and is regarded as one the most important collections of its kind worldwide.

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1 Comment
  1. Panagiotis Spyridis says

    Bravo Alpha Bank. The Greeks have awaken themselves to Wallachia again. We are claiming our strong historical ties to the region. Welcome.

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