“The Colorado College bubble,” as we’ve come to define it, represents the lack of connection with the outside world due to our extreme immersion into the block plan. This usually refers to obliviousness about current events in the world, but it also applies to things right in our backyard. The American Numismatic Association (ANA), nestled right between Packard and the Fine Arts Center (FAC) on Cascade, is an incredible resource for CC students.
The ANA is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to the collection and advancement of knowledge about numismatics, or the study of money. Their building on Cascade houses several different offices including the headquarters of the organization, the Money Museum, and the association’s official magazine.
Originally founded in 1891, the ANA “set up its headquarters in Colorado Springs in 1967 on land owned by CC,” said Douglas Mudd, the curator and director of the Money Museum. His job description includes “anything from planning new exhibits and doing research to prepare for new exhibits, to overseeing the cataloguing of the collection and management of the museum as a whole.”
The museum has several exhibits up right now, but its newest one (advertised by the huge banner across from Cornerstone) tells the history of the Olympic Games through coins and other monetary items. “It basically covers the whole excitement and history of the Olympic Games from the ancient times to the modern day,” said Mudd. “There’s a lot of stuff that people don’t know about the ancient Olympics, like that it ran for over 1,100 years.”
“As with all of our exhibits,” stated Mudd, “we use numismatic items; coins, paper money, to illustrate history, because most people aren’t really aware of coins, other than that we use them on a daily basis.”
“What I try to do is relate the coins to something they do understand.” The museum’s past exhibits have included ones on the civil war and ‘treasures of the deep,’ which told the stories of ancient buried treasure. They chose this year to launch the Olympic exhibit because of the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. “It gives people something more than just the sporting events, it gives a little bit of background to why these games occur.”
Mudd believes that coins and metals are important because they can teach you about something that you’re interested in. “If you can look at coins and metals and understand what they say, what the images mean, it gives you an insight into history,” said Mudd, and that can be hard to get otherwise.
The ANA has numerous connections with CC, both faculty and students. They run a summer seminar every year, during which they use CC spaces to host over 500 numismatists.
More importantly, there is a connection through the association’s education department. They host classes “in conjunction with the CC summer session, where professors will come in to learn more about Latin and we’ll do presentations for them on Roman coins.” Roman coins, Mudd stated, are one of the best ways to learn about Latin “because you can actually handle them and hold them in your hands. You can’t hold an old papyrus tablet.”
Mudd also does a regular series with various professors at the college. He’s currently working with Classics professors Sanjaya Thakur and Richard Buxton in their classes on ancient Greek and Roman history. “I’ll come in for an afternoon session and do a PowerPoint for them,” said Mudd.
Knowledge through coins and paper money is “limited because there’s not a lot of information on it. But if you know how to get that information, there’s a lot there.”
Mudd’s talks have been extremely well received by CC students. There’s something incredible “about being able to handle something that Julius Caesar, for example, once held. From a historical, and from a teaching standpoint, it’s really pretty amazing. It’s always exciting.”
The association’s intentions are clear. When asked, Mudd replied that “between the education department and the museum, our mission is to make more people aware of numismatics and how it can be useful in their daily lives, and making the connection between numismatic knowledge, historical knowledge, and economic knowledge.” In Europe, any scholar with a degree in history or economics is required to have taken courses on numismatics, but the same is not true in the U.S.
One of the ANA’s current main goals is to make their resources available for everyone. Any student with a Pikes Peak library card is automatically authorized to borrow books from their extensive library. CC students can take advantage of this for subjects ranging from classics to economics.