just opened

Women in Power: Coins from the Barber Collection

22 Jun 2024 – 26 Jan 2025

Regular hours

10:00 – 17:00
10:00 – 17:00
10:00 – 17:00
10:00 – 17:00
10:00 – 17:00
10:00 – 17:00

Free admission

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The Barber Institute of Fine Arts

Birmingham, United Kingdom


Travel Information

  • By Bus: Nos 61, 62 and 63 leave the city centre (Corporation Street or Navigation St). The bus stops at the bottom of Navigation Street (ask for the University).
  • By Car: Take the A38 (Bristol Road), turning onto Edgbaston Park Road. Parking is available in the University's South Car Park, with the Barber Institute situated at the top of the hill opposite King Edward's School, two minutes walk from the car pa
  • By Train: University Station is a five minute walk from the Barber Institute on the campus. Trains leave New Street station regularly and take approximately 10 minutes.
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Spanning nearly 2,000 years and more than 2,500 miles, the Barber’s forthcoming coin exhibition explores historical women who have appeared on coins.


From London to Ctesiphon (now Baghdad), and from representations of gender fluid deities from the 3rd century BC to Elizabeth II in 2022, the display focuses on the female rulers, potentates and icons whose stories have often been distorted or diminished over successive centuries and millennia.

Coins are by their very nature a projection of power and propaganda: as physical objects, they can convey economic and diplomatic might, and, artistically, the images they bear present a political, social, and often religious construction of power dynamics. Coins – tiny capsules of history with intrinsic economic and aesthetic value – are the most contemporaneous of objects, bearing witness to the ways in which powerful people of all genders wished to have their power expressed. At the same time, historical narratives have often been written and amended by men – who have frequently minimised the role of women or simplified them to fit stereotypes.

In addition to reviving the stories of the women who shaped religious belief systems, were diminished by the work of historical authors, and were underestimated in their own day, leading to the downfall of their rivals, this exhibition will also explore how the very presentation of gender on numismatic depictions changed through time and cultures.

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