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The Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank, Chicago Illinois

Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank, Chicago Illinois
The Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank, Chicago Illinois

Money, money, money
Must be funny
In the rich man’s world
Money, money, money
Always sunny
In the rich man’s world
All the things I could do
If I had a little money
It’s a rich man’s world

I decided to visit the Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank while I was aimlessly wondered around Chicago one day.  Note that I was only aimless as I was yet again lost.

Did you know there are 12 Federal Reserve Banks in The United States?  Me either.  (PS if you did know that – you might know too much :-)).

Federal Reserve Banks have a few main functions; they hold cash reserves for depository institutions (ie banks), they move currency in and out of circulation. The Chicago branch alone shreds 23.5 million USD a day of bills that are no longer suitable for use.  Of that 23.5 million 20 to 30 bills are counterfeit. Reserve Banks also provide the US treasury with checking accounts and issue and redeem government securities.

Have you ever wondered where your USD bills have come from? Well all bills are coded as to which reserve bank they come from along with a lot of other miscellaneous coding that makes a super organized person look like a hot mess. The dollar bill makes no secret of which reserve bank it comes from as it is proudly stamped on the front of the bill on the left side. All other denominations of money printed after 1996 no longer have the Reserve Bank stamp, just the letter code and designation of the bank.

While at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago you can take either a guided tour of the money museum or take a self-guided tour. I opted for the self-guided tour as the guided tour is only offered at 1pm and did not mesh well with my packed schedule.  Plus I like to move at my own speed.

Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank, Chicago Illinois
Hawaii money dating back to WWII

After I cleared the airport like security I entered the small museum where I found several forms of US currency from over the years. Here there were several large bills on display, both large in size and in denomination. The largest bill was for $10,000 USD. This denomination is no longer in circulation however. The $100 USD bill is the largest bill in current circulation.

The next section of the museum was identifying counterfeits where I was tested to see if I could tell which bills were real or fake. I did very poorly identifying the fakes against the real bills. So needless to say if you’ve got some fake bills you can slip them to me and I won’t know the difference.

The “Fed Shreds” is the next stop on the money learning adventure where you can pick up a bag of free shredded US dollars that totals around $364. They jokingly say “some assembly is required”.

Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank, Chicago Illinois
Resistance is futile

The Million Dollar Cube orbits off to the side like an odd Borg Cube lurking but it is an impressive example of what a million dollars in one dollar bills would look like.

The million dollar theme continues as you move into the inflation section of the exhibit … as though I needed to be told my money is worth less than it was yesterday. It explains with projections what money today will be worth in the future.  Sigh.

Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank, Chicago Illinois
My awkward photo taken with a suitcase of $1 Million Dollars!

The last stop again keeps with the million dollar theme.  You can have your photo taken with a suitcase filled with one million dollars USD. The exhibit said taking my photo with the money would impress my friends and family but I’m not sure they would be impressed unless I came home with the suitcase. Which I didn’t so that was a bummer, especially since I had just lost my job a few weeks prior to this trip.

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