This is a good and rare time to be a history buff. Most central banks are digging deeper and deeper into its history as present is so messed up.
So there was an exhibition at the Bank of England Museum which sheds light on different aspects of the organisation’s history through photographs.
Viewed from outside, the Bank of England can appear as a formal establishment, a remnant of past times. We have come a long way since Montagu Norman’s ‘never explain, never excuse’ era of central banking. In recent years there has been a move to establish ‘openness and accountability’ as a core pillar of the Bank’s mission to promote the good of the people of the United Kingdom. The Bank of England Museum’s latest exhibition, Capturing the City: Photography at the Bank of England, aims to show that beyond the austere stone walls of the Bank’s building on Threadneedle Street lies a hive of activity incorporating a remarkable architectural history representing the dynamism of the institution, a diverse range of occupations and a vibrant social history.
The Bank of England Archive’s photography collection provides a fascinating record of the Bank, its buildings and staff since the Victorian era. Capturing the City looks at the Bank’s past, and explores the history of a medium that has become so popular today.(1) This article shows a small selection of images, but there are many more on show in the exhibition. The display will provide an opportunity to see images of the Bank not easily accessible to the public as well as artworks and artefacts not usually on display.
As part of the exhibition, the Bank of England Museum worked in collaboration with the Royal Photographic Society’s London chapter to produce an exciting project based on images from the Bank Archive. Members of the Society, as well as the general public, were challenged to choose an Archive image and take photographs of the same location using as much creativity and imagination as they liked.
The results show some of the many changes in the City over the past century (Figures 1–4). This article includes sections on life in the Bank and the Bank during World War II. It also includes a box on the Bank of England Archive’s cataloguing project, which has been running in conjunction with the planning and research of Capturing the City.