Banco de la República inaugurates centenary with reopening of Casa de Moneda

The colonial mint, Casa de Moneda, belonged to the Spanish Viceroy Solis. Photo: Reg Natarajan/Flickr

In 1923, as Colombia witnessed a period of industrial growth and transformative economic changes, Law 25 established a central bank, known since then, as Banco de la República.

The noble purpose of founding an institution to safeguard the nation’s monetary stability and foster financial inclusion has completed a century, and Banco de la República remains steadfast in its mission to regulate the Colombian peso, manage foreign exchange reserves, and preserve the integrity of the country’s banking system.

Yet, the responsibilities of this esteemed institution extend far beyond the regulation of currency and lending rates. The bank also assumes the role of a custodian, preserving Colombia’s rich cultural heritage. As the governing body overseeing renowned establishments such as the Gold Museum (Museo de Oro) in Bogotá, the Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango, the Art Museum Miguel Urrutia, the captivating Fernando Botero Museum, and historical Casa de Moneda, Banco de la República has deservedly earned a reputation as a leading cultural reference, both at home and overseas.

The cultural institutions under the auspices of Banco de la República extend beyond the boundaries of the Colombian capital, reaching out to communities across the nation. Through historical archives, concerts, lectures, exhibitions, and educational programs, the bank engages audiences in 29 cities and every departmental capital. In doing so, the bank has woven a tapestry of cultural exchange and expanded an understanding, and appreciation, of history.

As a reference of Colombia’s progress and prosperity, Banco de la República embarks on a centenary journey, starting at the corner of Calle 11 with Carrera 4 and the Museo Casa de Moneda. The reopening of the first Mint in the Kingdom of New Grenada, and in a house that during the mid-18th Century belonged to Viceroy Solís, is one of the highlights of the Banco’s cultural offerings this year. After a two-year restoration to this graceful building in Bogotá’s historic La Candelaria, the Mint House Museum will showcase an exhibition that chronicles the history of Colombia’s economy and the production of banknotes and coins.

With a new take on storytelling and state-of-the-art visual displays, the exhibition represents Colombian society within diverse historical processes and circumstances, unveiling the social and cultural appropriation of money. Embarking on a journey through this revamped museum invites us to reflect upon the price and worth we have bestowed upon objects and ideas over time. On July 23, the Central Bank will kick-off its 100th anniversary with the reopening of the Mint House Museum (Calle 11 No.4-93).

The new exhibition space, that includes the famous Numismatic Collection (banknotes and coins), received guidance from economist and former Finance Minister José Antonio Ocampo. Divided into eight themes such as wealth, money, salvation, nature, freedom, processes of change, identity, and equality, the new museography incorporates metaphors, infographics, interactive elements, and price equivalence tables, allowing visitors to calculate the cost of specific items throughout the centuries.

During the curatorial process, a stained glass window depicting Saint Barbara and Saint Eligius, was discovered in pristine condition and is another highlight of a building that was declared a National Monument by the Colombian Institute of Culture – now Ministry of Culture – in 1975.

Since its transformation into a museum, the Mint House had only undergone renovations between 1985 and 1996. This second intervention started in September 2021, and includes major upgrades to lighting, ventilation and public services. Professionals from diverse disciplines – numismatists, historians, artists, economists, educators, museographers, and designers – worked closely to elaborate the new narrative, as well as update the research behind a permanent collection that is among the most comprehensive in South America.

Viceroy Solis’ estate produced coins from 1621 to 1987 when operations were transferred to a new Mint factory in Ibagué, Tolima. The July 23 inaugural event starts at 12:00 noon and is free to the public. The museum will be open six days a week (closed Tuesdays), and will host throughout the year, workshops and family oriented activities.