Friday, 6 May 2016

I AIN'T NOTHING BUT A GOLD DIGGER


OBJECT OF THE WEEK

BY: HAYLEY MAE JONES

Visiting the Royal Canadian Mint in Ottawa was fantastic. I was taken on a tour of the factory, and was shown the importance of currency within Canadian heritage.

There were tons of amazing objects within the Mint for visitors to see including the: Vancouver Olympic medals, factory machinery, and a million dollar collector coin. However, all requests to take photos of the objects were denied due to the fact that the Mint did not want any photos to be taken of the factory technology.  Visitors were also not able to touch or engage with most of the objects.  This raises an important dilemma: how do cultural institutions balance the visitor's needs while protecting their facility and objects? The Mint is a unique case, due to the fact that many of the objects shown to visitors are used to produce a form of Canadian currency. Allowing visitors to take detailed photos of this machinery increases the risk of potential counterfeit currency production.

The only object I was allowed to take pictures of at the Royal Canadian Mint in Ottawa, was of a 24 carat gold bar that was chained to the display in the gift shop, and was constantly watched by a security guard. I can understand why the security guard was close by considering the fact that the bar is worth over $750,000. Many visitors enjoyed interacting with the gold bar, and took the time to take pictures, and pick up the gold. It is heavier than it looks.

Personal Photo: Hayley Mae Jones

The fact that visitors were even allowed to interact with the gold bar, and take pictures of this object, shows a unique compromise made by the Mint. They were able to make this object accessible to the visitors while protecting the other objects by placing the gold bar in the gift shop which was separate from the factory floor/machinery. I guess it goes to show that even gold can be accessible to visitors!

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