(October 1, 2012) - When a person thinks about rare coins, they are often focused on their value, but there are several other reasons why coins might be prized among collectors. In fact, gold coins from the Greek and Roman empires are considered by academics to be among the finest and most relevant works of art from those time periods. For the first time ever, a collection of 500 coins, many of them gold or silver coins from thousands of years ago, will be on display at the Museum of Fine Art in Boston. According to a recent article in Art Daily, this is the only gallery dedicated to coins at a major art museum within the United States. The new Michael C. Ruettgers Gallery for Ancient Coins was funded by the man himself who also gave of his own collection, including such rarities as the Roman Aureus coin which shows Aelius Verus, minted in 137 AD.
The rare coins featured in this newly opened gallery are considered masterpieces of fine art in their own right, albeit on a very small scale, because they convey so much cultural information with their designs. Roman gold coins were referred to as Aureus and often featured mythological characters as well as political leaders of their day that are relevant to historians and the overall understanding of Roman culture. Roman silver coins, or Denarius, are also featured in the new gallery as testaments to their time period and its artistically talented individuals.
MFA director Malcolm Rogers told the press, "We are especially pleased to be able to share with our visitors many of the greatest treasures from the MFA’s coin collection in a beautiful new gallery, where they can explore the depth of our holdings and also use interactives to enhance the experience."
The interactives Rogers speaks of are iPads which are mounted on cases containing the rare coins. These devices will allow visitors to get an especially detailed look at each of the coins, zooming into focus on details of more than 270 coins from ancient Greece and Rome. Those who have an iPad of their own can download the app, called MFA Coins, free of charge from the Apple App Store. Guests will also be able to use a touchscreen and design coins of their own by choosing among different elements that make up a coin's design. Visitors will be able to gain a deeper understanding of what coins represent because they have designed a coin of their own.
The artistic, historical and economic elements of coins are the focus of the gallery, showing visitors what an important part of the Greek and Roman eras these small pieces of metal ended up being. For collectors, being able to see the rare coins is very exciting, especially one as stunning as the museum's M. Junius Brutus Denarius which was issued by the assassin of Julius Caesar himself and ties directly to one of the most dramatic moments in the history of Western civilization.