Currencies are much more than monetary denominations. As means of establishing value that can circulate, exert influence, and be exchanged, currencies are influential concepts that also depict and precipitate conflict. Exemplifying this territory through the University of Calgary’s role at The Military Museums, Currencies of Conflict presents an astounding range of art and artefacts spanning four millennia. The exhibition is prescient in visualizing currencies at a time of widespread global conflict, and highlights the breadth and depth of the University’s research and holdings.
On display are numismatics –coins, tokens and financial currency– including the earliest minted coinage from ancient Greece depicting military leaders, alongside arrowheads used for bartering, and WW II concentration camp currency. Weapons feature Middle Eastern ceramic grenades from the 11th century, Aztec axes, and African arms including a Zulu spear. Propaganda plays a major role with comprehensives displays of WWI pamphlets and recruitment posters, and rare WWII original Nazi propaganda artwork salvaged from the Reichstag during the fall of Berlin.
Modern and contemporary artworks in Currencies of Conflict span more than a century, from official war art of the Great War to unofficial war art in the Cold War, Canadian Indigenous art highlighting conflict on the home front, and contemporary art addressing global fracture. Exhibited at the Founders’ Gallery, this project marks fifteen years of UCalgary’s very tangible engagement with The Military Museums and our community.
Collectively these incredible examples of material culture and art allow learning opportunities across cultures. In addition to Founders’ Gallery displays, the University of Calgary’s Library and Archives at The Military Museums –the largest military library in Canada– also marks fifteen years of operation and is open daily Monday-Friday.