Over time, the blog that consistently gets the most hits is November 15, 2011’s “Riga’s Take-Your-Medicine Museum”. I wrote it after visiting the Pauls Stradins Museum of the History of Medicine in Latvia’s capital city. Among its displays were the results of many experiments that surely started when some Russian scientist began a sentence with the words what if. I learned a lesson at Pauls Stradins. Don’t assume from its name that an attraction will not be interesting. Stradins was 5 Compass fascinating. So was St Louis’ new Inside the Economy Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
Inside the Economy Museum is full of information about money. Over 110 million pieces of currency are shredded by the St. Louis Fed each year. After Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Reserve had to burn millions of dollars of contaminated $. The U.S. Government prints 26 million currency notes with a face value of over $1,000,000,000 every day. Near the exit is a cube that answers the question, “What does $1,000,000 look like?”
Inside the Economy Museum is fun and practical. Remember when your mom told you to stop playing with your food? This museum challenges visitors to tell that to the owner of Frosty Bites, a successful local snow cone and ice cream seller. Inside the Economy appears designed to have special appeal to those young enough to profit from its advice. A display called Education Pays, for example, explores both lifetime earnings and the likelihood of unemployment without much education. Even someone like me with a long-established career will enjoy displays like, “These job match your skills and interests” and “Learn about your dream job” and “What do you want to spend money on? followed by 4 real-world choices–couch, car, savings, lottery.” In an era of full restaurants and low-paying jobs, displays don’t get more practical than: Cook at home for 2 = 45 minutes and $11.57. Takeout for 2 = 15 minutes and $23.94.
There are 12 Federal Reserve Districts. The one administered from St. Louis includes parts of 6 states-Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee Mississippi, Illinois, and Missouri and all of Arkansas. This is the Reserve’s first museum, and I hope it isn’t its last. Inside the Economy opened in September, 2014, and provides a much-needed service. Bankrate.com conducted a survey about the time ITE opened and reported that 1 of 3 working-age adults has nothing saved for retirement. Inside the Economy’s 100 exhibits show how to achieve financial smarts in five themed zones. It’s free and opens each weekday at 10 am. One slight disadvantage is that it closes at 3 pm. Inside The Economy Museum is on the corner of Broadway and Locust in downtown St Louis, and visitors can park across the street at Center Park for a small amount.
Since 2015 began I’ve seen The Devil’s Rope in Texas and the wildly dysfunctional Bitola Museum. Hopefully, in the near future I’ll be able to explore the Sulabh International Museum of Toilets in New Delhi, India, and Mecca, California’s International Banana Museum.