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The Mint as a cultural institution

The Mint promotes public understanding of the cultural, technical and historical significance of coins. It delivers public, school and special group tours, public programs, exhibitions and online learning resources. The Mint also manages the National Coin Collection.

In 2020–21, the Mint welcomed 142,997 visitors to its facility in Canberra, a 44 per cent decrease on visitation in 2019–20. This decrease was caused by ongoing COVID-19 restrictions. A total of 19,646 visitors were school students, a 57 per cent decrease over 2019–20, also caused by COVID-19.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions, a new Digital Officer role was developed for the Education and Visitor Services team in April 2021. The role of this Officer is to create online content that can be accessed by people from anywhere.

Despite the restrictions and lowered visitation numbers, 507 school tours were held alongside 1,215 public tours, 26 public programs and 4 exhibitions. The Education and Visitor Services team also produced 15 digital offerings for visitors not able to visit the Mint.

Exhibitions

Eureka! Stories from the Goldfields (August 2020 to December 2020)

This exhibition featured characters and stories from the Australian Gold Rush era included in the 2020 Mintmark Suite. It presented photographic reproductions, a Welcome Stranger Nugget replica created by Museums Victoria (a cast of the model of the original nugget), Adelaide Ingot restrikes from the National Coin Collection and a range of products from the 2020 Mintmark Suite. Due to COVID-19 restrictions and the temporary closure of the Mint’s Gallery, this exhibition was postponed from January until August 2020.

Australia’s Firefighters: Honouring the brave (November 2020 to February 2021)

This exhibition coincided with the release of the 2020 $2 Circulating Coloured Coin—Australia’s Firefighters. It paid homage to the tireless work of firefighters, especially through the catastrophic 2019–20 bushfire season. ACT Rural Fire Service Volunteer Gary Hooker allowed the Mint to use many of the photographs he captured during this fire season for the display.

Also displayed was the Bungendore Fridge, on loan from the National Museum of Australia. This was the first time the Fridge was displayed outside of the Museum since it was acquired in February 2020. Drone maps borrowed from the Australian Federal Police Museum were displayed, as were uniforms and burnt coins from the Fire Brigade Historical Society of the ACT.

A Century of Air Power (February 2021 to October 2021)

This exhibition aligned with the release of the 2021 Heroes of the Sky Mintmark Suite and the Century of Air Power Eleven-Coin Collection, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Royal Australian Air Force. It was developed in partnership with curators from the Air Force Heritage Centres (History and Heritage Branch, Royal Australian Air Force), and featured objects from its collection that told rich stories about the Air Force, its history and customs.

Other objects included were Challenge Coins, Short Snorter Notes, a battle dress tunic and service dress cap, a fragment of an Aircraft Control Column and multiple photographic reproductions.

Ginger Meggs: 100 years of adventure! (June 2021 to November 2021)

This exhibition, along with the release of related coin products, celebrated 100 years of the much-loved Ginger Meggs Australian comic. It displayed items from a private collector, who generously loaned rare Ginger Meggs memorabilia. The exhibition also featured comic strips taken from multiple periods of the Ginger Meggs’s history.

Indigenous Military Service (From April 2021)

This exhibition displayed a painting by contemporary Aboriginal artist and Kalkadoon woman Chern’ee Sutton. This painting was commissioned by the Mint and a portion of it was used on a $2 coloured circulating coin that recognised the Indigenous men and women who have served in the Australian military. A video broadcast in the Mint’s theatre describes the symbolism of the key elements of the painting.

Public programs

Mini-Minties

This monthly pre-schooler program focused on educating 4 to 6-year-olds about money and the Mint through engaging and creative activities including gallery exploration, story time and craft. In 2020–21, themes included Robots, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Christmas coins, Tooth Fairy coins, Lunar New Year, St. Patrick’s Day, Royal Australian Air Force coins, Australian animals on coins and how Australia makes and uses money.

Family Tours

These paid family friendly interactive tours of the Mint explored how coins are made in Australia.

Quiet Morning

These mornings—a partnership between the Mint and Marymead Autism Centre—saw children and their families engage in activities and gallery exploration in a friendly and quiet environment before the Mint opened to the public. The second Quiet Morning was held in January 2021.

Enlighten 2021

Onsite ‘Enlighten Titan’ activities ran during Enlighten 2021. Children created their own robot themed vests. Online competitions were held for those who could not come to Canberra for Enlighten 2021.

Our Bush Capital: Author Workshop

The workshop saw children’s author, Samantha Tidy, facilitate a reading and activity celebrating the release of her children’s book, Our Bush Capital, which features the Mint as a must-see tourist destination in Canberra.

Online Competitions

Six online competitions ran during the COVID-19 shutdown period as well as during the October school holidays, December and January school holidays and Enlighten 2021. These competitions, which were promoted through the Mint’s social media pages, encouraged people to engage with the Mint, even when there were not onsite. The competitions took several formats including colouring competitions, a mask making competition and a ‘name a new Australian currency’ competition which aligned with Museum Week 2021.

Digital Offerings

Due to the ongoing disruptions of COVID-19 the Mint ramped up its cultural and tourism digital offerings.

Digital Mini-Minties

Two Digital Mini-Minties ran, one exploring Possum Magic and one exploring Robots in partnership with Lucy Sparkles. Children participated via Zoom and did singing, dancing, acting and storytelling.

Social Media

Cultural and tourism content for social media included:

  • From the Vault—Women who have inspired ‘change’
  • Art is Everywhere—Coin plasters of the National Coin Collection
  • Museum Week 2021—an international virtual event encouraging cultural institutions from across the globe to share content for one week based on set hashtags.

National Coin Collection

Acquisitions

Coin products and master tools

A total of 548 items were accessioned into the National Coin Collection, mostly new coin products and master tools.

Other objects

Chern’ee Sutton, Indigenous Military Service, 2020, acrylic and textured acrylic on canvas, 61 cm x 91 cm (IRN 14527).

This painting was commissioned for the 2021 $2 Circulating Indigenous Military Service coin and was accessioned into the National Coin Collection. Chern’ee Sutton is a contemporary Indigenous Australian artist from the Kalkadoon people in the Mount Isa region, Queensland. The painting represents Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who have served in the Australian Defence Force from its inception to present day.

Loans

In May 2021, the Mint loaned eight objects from the National Coin Collection for an exhibition developed by the Museum of Australian Democracy and the Australian Public Service Commission. Australia’s Public Service: For the Government of the Day, featured the 1988 Gilt Copy of the Key to Parliament House (IRN 10411) and seven Stuart Devlin decimal currency plasters.