Bankarium, Banking Museum of Slovenia, opens its doors on Summer Museum Night

June 17, 2021

“Slovenes can be proud of our banking history. Few people know this, but the development of banking in Slovenia started at the same time as in other European countries. Our first monetary institution, Kranjska hranilnica (Carniola Savings Bank, founded in 1820), was, for example, only the second ever in the then Austro-Hungarian Empire. The more banking developed, the better it could support the economy and the faster the latter could grow, and with that, society also developed and progressed,” said Blaž Brodnjak, the President of the Board of the NLB Institute for the Management of Cultural Heritage, under the auspices of which the museum was established, at today’s presentation of Bankarium, the Museum of Banking in Slovenia, which presents the banking heritage in the Slovene territory from as early as 1820 to the present day. 

Bankarium invites visitors to the former banking hall of the Mestna hranilnica ljubljanska at Čopova ulica 3 in Ljubljana, as it opens its doors on Saturday, 19 June. The museum will be open daily from Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; it will be open until midnight on the Summer Museum Night this Saturday.  

“I am looking forward to handing over Bankarium, the Banking Museum of Slovenia, to the public on the Summer Museum Night this Saturday after more than two years of searching for artefacts, collecting stories, forming concepts and, last but not least, construction work,” highlighted Irena Čuk, Director of the NLB Institute for the Management of Cultural Heritage, at the presentation of the museum. “The museum would not be possible without the generous support of NLB, under the auspices of which it will operate, the President of the Management Board and other members, the Supervisory Board and many participants in the project who with their efforts, knowledge and enthusiasm made sure that we are here today and that our banking history will not be forgotten. And not only will it not be forgotten – we will continue to write it together, and with workshops and trainings that will take place in Bankarium, we will also make sure that we have even more financial knowledge,” she added.

The exhibition concept of Bankarium, whose curator is Meta Kordiš, PhD, was created in collaboration with several museum and research institutions. Žarko Lazarević, PhD, and Marta Rendla, PhD, both from the Institute of Contemporary History, Jure Stojan, PhD, from the Institute for Strategic Solutions – ISR, and Andrej Šemrov, PhD, from the Numismatic Cabinet at the National Museum of Slovenia, participated in the creation of the museum contents, and the formation of Bankarium followed the example of European museums of  banking.  

Visitors to the museum, which was created in one of Ljubljana’s most memorable buildings built in the Vienna Secession style, will first be introduced to the 5,000-year-old history of banking in a multimedia introduction. Then, a presentation of the history of banking institutions and practices on our soil will take them to explore the two-hundred-year-old banking heritage in the Slovene territory. They will also learn about the creation of the first savings banks and walk through history all the way to the occurrence of digital mobile wallets. They will be able to see all the currencies that were valid in the territory of today’s Slovenia during this period, and get to know the key personalities of Slovene banking. Many will be attracted by bank counters from different periods, a rich collection of piggy banks and savings books, and even the interior of an ATM. Visitors will also be able to enter the bank vault, and in the end they will check their financial literacy in a playful way.

“Why it was us who founded the Museum of Banking? Because of our tradition based on people, banking knowledge and culture, which is more than 200 years old,” continued to explain Blaž Brodnjak, President of the Board of the NLB Institute for the Management of Cultural Heritage. “Regardless of the fact that the collection was entirely financed by NLB, the museum talks about the history of the Slovene banking industry, it talks about the development of institutions and the development of banking practices – from the first piggy banks to the digital transformation. Bankarium is not only a museum, but also a digital centre for financial literacy. Just as this building, the Ljubljana Municipal Savings Bank, was the leader in youth and school savings 100 years ago, NLB has the leading position in knowledge, professionalism and experience, which we are happy to share. After all, financial literacy is part of our sustainable policy and strategy, it is our responsibility and our task.”

About Bankarium and the history of banking in the Slovene territory

The year 1820 is considered to be the beginning of banking in the Slovene territory, when the first financial institution was established – the Carniola Savings Bank, which operated independently for 125 years. Other savings banks, credit cooperatives and banks, which are represented in Bankarium, have been established in Slovenia in 200 years. The bicentennial history of banking is also shown by money from different periods and its purchasing power during its validity. Since 1820, as many as nine currencies have been used in Slovenia. In addition, the museum also provides an insight into the life and work of six deserving Slovene bankers.  

Bankarium has a number of selected items on display that will impress visitors and even take many back to childhood or at least to the years of their youth. Old and modern piggy banks are on display, and visitors will also be able to take a look at the other side of three bank counters. The first one is from the Vienna Secession period, as it is a replica of the bank counter which stood in the Ljubljana Municipal Savings Bank from 1905, when this banking institution was opened, and was in use until 1938. It will also be possible to take a closer look at the bank counters from socialist and modern times.

The oldest item in the collection is a badge from 1820

After many years, the statue Dobrodelnost (Charity), made by sculptress Elza Kastl Obereigner for the Carniola Savings Bank at the age of seventeen, which was transferred to the Ljubljana Municipal Savings Bank after the Second World War, is returning to the premises of the municipal savings bank. The oldest object from the NLB Museum Collection, which will be on display in the museum, is the badge of the Ljubljana (Carniola) Savings Bank, which was made between 1820 and 1845 and which was probably used by gentlemen on walking sticks.

It will be possible to enter the vault and see the safes

It will certainly be interesting for the visitors to look inside an ATM and learn about its functioning, as we deal with these devices almost every day, and not many people know how the processes in them take place. In addition, it will be possible to enter the vault in Bankarium, which was still in operation three years ago, and take a closer look at the safes and the valuables kept in them. Visitors will end the tour in a financial maze, a real treasure trove of banking knowledge, in which adults and young people will learn the rules of personal finance management.  

Museum shop: from board games to coins

Bankarium will also have a museum shop, where various products related to money and the bank will be available. The shop will offer a wide range of commemorative coins from the period of independent Slovenia, as well as a book on Slovene banking and other literature on finance. Piggy banks, board games, wallets, money boxes and other Slovene products related to money will also be available. Most of them were made by Slovene entrepreneurs at the invitation of the museum as part of the social responsibility project #HelpFrame.

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