Some of you might not have known that the Bank of England even had a Museum - it has in fact been around and representing the history of the Bank since 1988! We were so excited to catch up with the Bank of England Museum, Sponsor Partners of The Big Green Draw Festival, and chat with Anne Yusiani about the Museum's history, her thoughts on visual literacy and this year's theme #ClimateofChange...
Interview: Matilda Barratt in conversation with Anne Yusiani.
Hi Anne! Thanks so much for chatting with us today. Could you start by telling us a little bit about the Bank of England Museum, its history and your work there?
I’m sure many people don’t know that the Bank of England has a museum – well our museum is here to tell the history and the current roles of the Bank of England as the central bank of the United Kingdom. We’ve been open since 1988. Naturally we have the largest collection of Bank of England notes and their designs in the world. But we also have a range of eclectic objects, including music sheets and a soap bar! Anything that represents the 326 years history of the Bank.
We’re a small team so not only am I the education officer delivering talks and presentations to school groups, I’m also responsible for welcoming our visitors every day into the museum. My other role is to spread the word about our events and offerings to the world as a marketing officer.
Why is it so important to make your collections accessible and available, and preserve them for generations to come?
Our collection mirrors the nation’s economic and financial history. So it’s imperative that we make them accessible and available for future generations - we want everyone to know the role of the Bank of England in shaping the nation’s history.
What are your thoughts on the role of visual literacy across multiple disciplines and sectors?
I believe visual literacy holds a very important role in every discipline and sector. It’s universal, recognised across all generations and an effective tool in knowledge sharing and education in general.
Do you draw? What role, if any, does drawing play in your life and your work?
I have to be honest that I don’t draw – simply because I have never tried! I think I always have been put off thinking that to draw is to create a masterpiece. But now I realise drawing is just an expression, so I shouldn’t care whether my drawing would be considered good or bad. I will try, I promise!
I’m interested to know what role you think that museums and galleries will play in our post-lockdown world?
Museums and galleries are now having multiple roles within society. They don’t just serve as places for people to learn about the past, but also as places where people can have conversations to understand each other. In a post-lockdown world I think their roles will expand into refuge spaces - whether that’s physical or virtual – where people can escape their daily lives, be entertained, and try to make meaning of the changing environment around them.
This year’s Big Draw Festival theme, ‘The Big Green Draw: A Climate of Change’, focuses on the relationship between people and our living environments and ecosystems, encouraging drawing as a means of positive activism. How does this resonate with the Bank of England Museum, and why do you think it’s important?
Climate change has been one of the Bank of England’s strategic priorities for quite some time. We were actually going to include this and the relationship between people and our living environments as one of the themes in our exhibition this year called Exploring London: People and Places. Unfortunately we weren’t able to proceed with the exhibition caused by the museum closure, due to the government measure in handling the Covid-19 pandemic.
What motivates you to take part in The Big Draw Festival?
We have been taking part in the Big Draw Festival for many years. We love being involved in something where we can share our wide collection with everyone. It’s a great nationwide (and global!) initiative where people of all ages are glued together by the joy of drawing.
Whilst the Bank of England Museum has unfortunately had to remain closed due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, I understand that you have lots of drawing activities and resources for families on your website. Could you perhaps direct our readers towards these, and tell us a little about them?
We have a bunch of fun drawing activities for families to do at home. From drawing JMW Turner’s portrait on the new £20 sheet to design the Bank’s building for the future. You can also create your own banknote through a video tutorial with artist Brenda Coyle. And don’t miss our banknote checking game to see if you can spot an error on a banknote!
Everything can be found on our Home Learning Hub webpage.
Thank you Anne!
If you were inspired by this interview with Anne and would like to find out more about The Bank of England Museum, head to their website here.
Registrations are now open for The Big Draw Festival 2020: A Climate of Change! Find out more about the benefits of becoming an organiser here and other ways to support The Big Draw's mission here.