If you want to know more about the history of money in South Africa, then the Absa Money Museum in downtown Johannesburg is the perfect place for you to visit. The museum, based in the Johannesburg city centre headquarters of Absa bank (located in the Barclays building) houses a collection of various forms of money used through South African history, including cowrie shells, Venetian glass beads and gold coins recovered from sunken ships, as well as items illustrating the evolution of banking from simple abacuses and paper files to the modern, computerised banking system we enjoy today.
The museum provides a record of the history of money dating back 4 500 years to when people exchanged commodities such as salt, seashells, beads and animals for services rendered. This barter trade gave birth to money as we know it today. The exhibition includes an overview of monetary currencies, and shows how currency strength was determined before stock markets existed. On display are coins and notes from all over the world. The history of the Absa Group is also displayed in the museum, allowing visitors to track the bank’s trajectory from its beginnings to its position as one of South Africa’s “big five” banks.
Other interesting exhibits cover the history of technology in South African banking, including internet and cellphone banking, bank-related crimes, the history and usage of ATMs and the advent of the credit card.
Note that you need to show some form of identification (such as a passport or driver’s licence) to enter the building.
Admission is free
Open Mon-Fri 08:00-16:00
Closed on weekends and public holidays