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Current Exhibitions

Permanent Exhibition

Australia's banknotes are an important representation of its cultural identity, values and history. Illustrated with digital interactives and a selection of historical objects, our permanent exhibition tells the story of Australia's banknotes in the context of the nation's social, cultural and economic history from the colonial period to the present day. Read details »

Before Sunset

Before Sunset

‘Before Sunset’ is a new exhibition concerning the role of the Bank during the critical years of World War I (1914–1918). Soon after the Commonwealth Bank of Australia opened in 1912, it was required to develop quickly its capacity as the nation's central bank, as the Australian government called on it to manage the raising of funds for the war effort, and to develop its role as a national institution. Read details »

Collection Spotlight

The Museum presents a regularly changing display of documents and objects from the Bank's rich and diverse archival collection. These ‘collection spotlight’ displays present items that have rarely been seen before by the public and give deeper historical context to the banknotes with which Australians are already so familiar. Read details »

Online Features

A poster produced by the Bank showing an Australian soldier, airman and sailor. The poster states 'You lend - we'll defend. Buy Australian War Loan from any bank, post office, or stockbroker'

Unreservedly Modern

The construction of a new head office building for the Reserve Bank of Australia presented an opportunity to represent the Bank's identity, purpose and values. The Bank's approach to this enterprise was informed by modernist principles, and resulted in the creation of a nationally significant building that united architecture with interior design and fine and applied arts. Read details »

A poster produced by the Bank showing an Australian soldier, airman and sailor. The poster states 'You lend - we'll defend. Buy Australian War Loan from any bank, post office, or stockbroker'

Make your Money Fight!

The Bank played an important role in raising war loans during the World War II (1939-1945). These loans raised crucial funds for the war effort and contained the risk of uncontrolled inflation. The war had a transformative impact on the roles of the Bank itself, as it began to assume more of the responsibilities of a central bank.
Read details »

Detail from Sir Sidney Nolan, Camels, Central Australia, ripolin enamel and red ochre oil paint on hardboard, 118.5 x 149 cm, signed l.r. ‘Nolan’.

The Bank and Sir Sidney Nolan

During his career, Sir Sidney Nolan (1917-1992) developed close relations with the Reserve Bank and its Governor, Dr HC Coombs. Three major paintings by Nolan are included in the Bank's HC Coombs Collection of Australian Art.
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Notable Australians

The Bank has launched a new companion to its Museum titled Notable Australians. The book contains biographies of all identities who have been represented on the banknotes, coupled with photographs or paintings of the individuals. This is the first book to represent all identities, spanning from 1923 to the current banknotes, and totalling more than 30 biographies. Read details »

From Bank to Battlefield

The First World War saw the emergence of central banking in Australia. These functions were originally performed by a part of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. In 1960 that part became the Reserve Bank. In this centenary year of the start of the First World War, the Reserve Bank honours those staff who enlisted in the ‘war to end all wars’ and those who helped found a national institution. Read details »

Previous Exhibitions

The Decimal Revolution: 50th Anniversary of Decimal Currency

14 February 2016

The introduction of decimal currency on 14 February 1966 was a major milestone in the nation's social and economic history. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary, learn about the decision to decimalise, the design of the new and distinctively Australian currency, and the way in which the decimal system was explained to households and businesses. Read details »

Pocket Money tile

Pocket Money

17 May 2012–1 November 2014

The relationship between children, money and banks is explored using artefacts from the Reserve Bank's archives. Among the items on display are money boxes dating from the early 20th century, including the only known example of the first series of the Commonwealth Bank money boxes, illustrated literature and comic books from the 1950s and 1960s that encouraged children's interest in saving, and a selection of rare posters and brochures. Read Details »

Centenary Celebrations for $100 Man

Centenary Celebrations for $100 Man

2 January 2012–2 January 2013

In the centenary year of Mawson's Australasian Antarctic Expedition, we highlight the first $100 banknote (issued in 1984) featuring the great explorer. During his Expedition, Mawson and his men undertook scientific research in unimaginably harsh conditions. Sir Douglas Mawson's inclusion on the $100 banknote is as much a tribute to his strength and determination as to his drive to understand more about the world around him. See this banknote and related reference material. Read Details »

Hidden History of Banking

Hidden History of Banking

14 January 2010–17 February 2012

Although convicts are often portrayed as penniless, they usually arrived in New South Wales with sums of money. This display showcased original records of convicts deposits held by the Reserve Bank, and interprets the relationship between convicts and money. Read Details »

Reflections of Martin Place

Reflections of Martin Place

14 January 2010–January 2011

Martin Place Sydney has been the setting for major national events during the 20th century. To mark its 50th anniversary, the Reserve Bank's façade has been transformed into a gallery of photographs portraying historical events in Martin Place. Read Details »

Reflections of Martin Place

Planned for Progress

July 2010–April 2011

Planned for Progress, held in the Banking Chamber as part of our 50th anniversary celebration, explored the building's architecture, sculpture, corporate emblem, furniture and paintings in relation to the ideas of innovation and progress. Read Details »

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