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Jonathan Camhi
Jonathan Camhi
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Museum Opens Its Doors For Free Financial Education

As financial education becomes more paramount for financial institutions because of consumer and regulator demand, the Museum of American Finance is now offering a free financial education with free admission on Saturdays in a program sponsored by private equity firm Southport Lane.

Education and the Recession

Customers, banks and regulators have all been emphasizing financial literacy and education since the financial crisis. All of these sides are more concerned about risk after the crisis, as consumers and regulators are demanding more information from financial institutions to help consumers make smarter financial decisions. Against this backdrop the Museum of American Finance, the only public museum in the country dedicated to American finance and its history, launched a free admission program on Saturdays last week.

The program, which will run through the end of 2013, will allow free admission for people to come and learn about finance through exhibits like this one that tracks the history of the Great Recession from early 2007 through today.

Educating the Next Generation of Consumers

The free admission program kicked off with a visit by a 3rd grade class from P.S. 66 in Brooklyn to the museum, which is located at 48 Wall St. in New York City (the former headquarters of the Bank of New York). All children who visit for free on Saturdays will also receive a historical stock certificate from the museum, which also offers financial literacy classes for kids and a finance academy for high school students interested in a career in the field.

"We're trying to make finance fun and interesting for these kinds of kids," says David Cowen, the President and CEO of the museum.

A Day in the Life

Inside the museum, these screens show videos that take the visitors inside the world of finance, such as showing a day in the life of a trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. The museum also features informative displays and FAQ — for consumers interested in learning the basics of finance, investment and trading.

History on Display

The museum includes an impressive array of historical documents and artifacts related to American finance, including this edition of the Wall Street Journal from 1889, the first year the Journal was published, and letters from F.D.R. to his financial advisor during the Depression.

The Role of Finance

There are also a range of historical stock certificates and bonds from various stages in American history. The earliest is a receipt for George Washington from the U.S Treasury for his Virginia bonds when the U.S. assumed the debt of the individual states after independence. These municipal and corporate bonds to the right include bonds that helped finance the railroads and the Erie Canal. "This really shows how finance was the engine that helped build the country," Cowen says.

From Jesse James to Phishing Attacks

One of the students from P.S. 66 checks out a video display on the history of bank robbery in the U.S. with profiles of famous bank robbers like Jesse James, the precursors to modern day fraudsters.


Jonathan Camhi has been an associate editor with Bank Systems & Technology since 2012. He previously worked as a freelance journalist in New York City covering politics, health and immigration, and has a master's degree from the City University of New York's Graduate School ... View Full Bio

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