Money Museum – Chicago, Illinois - Atlas Obscura

Money Museum

This museum celebrating the almighty dollar lets visitors literally stand in the shadow of a million bucks. 


Located in the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, a massive currency storage and processing center, the Money Museum tries to make money fun with zany exhibits such as a cube containing a million one dollar bills and a change filled “money pit” that would make Scrooge McDuck jealous.

Despite being the source of depression and despair for many, the Money Museum presents the lighter side of cold, hard cash. The exhibition is located in the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago which itself is a self-proclaimed “bank for banks.” The Reserve was one of a dozen banks the federal government created in 1913 that were no more than 12 days ride from one another in order to create a more reliable system of currency storage and dissemination. To this day the huge bank stores billions of dollars, held for countless banks who simply run out of room.

The museum has informative displays on the history of American currency but its more outlandish exhibits are the real attraction. There is a machine that passes old, unusable bills through glass tubes and into a shredder right before visitors’ eyes (Fun fact: the bank regularly shreds around $10 million a day). The resulting mon-fetti is then given to the guests as a souvenir. Across from this display, there is a huge glass cube that is stuffed with a million dollars in $1 bills that weighs in at over 2,000 pounds of currency. There are TWO OTHER million dollar displays just a few feet away, albeit in higher denominations, that people can take their pictures with. There is also a disused elevator shaft that has been filled with over $50,000 in coins, creating a cartoonish well of monies. 

Admittance to the museum is free and in fact, factoring in the sack of torn up money most guests leave with (usually consisting of around $400), this may be the only museum that pays you to visit.  

Know Before You Go

Adults will need a government issued ID to enter the museum. They have a fun trivia hunt pamphlet available.

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