GAF Story

Hannah Webb

ISS Institute
Minting the future: the shifting cultural role of Mints

Hannah Webb, ISSI fellow. Smiling woman with shoulder length red hair.

The International Specialised Skills Institute GAF Fellowship allowed Hannah to travel to foreign Mints to understand how they can play a more prominent role as cultural institutions and not just commercial businesses. Her main focus was how Mint museums can contribute to the sustainability of their industry through innovative visitor experiences that engage and educate their visitors about the cultural significance of coins. 

How did you feel when you received a George Alexander Foundation fellowship? 

I remember feeling completely overwhelmed and excited. To be completely honest, I had a few moments where I experienced major imposter syndrome, thinking ‘how could I possibly have received this opportunity?!’

To be given the chance to travel internationally to learn best practices in your industry is such an exciting prospect, and I felt very determined to put everything I could into it.  

Where did the fellowship enable you to travel? Who did it allow you to visit and learn from? 

My fellowship allowed me to travel to Llantrisant, London, Paris, Madrid and Berlin. I was able to visit and learn from the museum teams at the Royal Mint UK, the British Museum, the Horniman Museum and Gardens, the Monnaie de Paris (the French Mint) and the Real Casa de la Moneda (the Spanish Mint).  

What insights did you gain during this Fellowship and what was your favourite experience?  

The main insight I gained through my fellowship experience was the significance of international networks, and how you are really restricting your learning if you only look to what’s happening in your own environment or professional sphere. I also gained some excellent insight into the ways that modern museums are looking for innovative methods to continue engaging audiences with their content, which is now more important than ever amid COVID-19.  

Picking my favourite experience is so difficult, but I think getting to go behind the scenes of the mints and museums was fascinating. I really got to see and experience the culture of the organisation and people’s passion for what they do, which is what brings these places to life. This was particularly evident at all the mints I visited, as they are such unique environments with interesting stories to share.   

What led to your interest in Mints and the cultural role they play?  

Having worked at the Royal Australian Mint for almost five years, I am constantly thinking about how and if coins will remain relevant in the future. The same goes for museums. Considering how museums will stay relevant and exciting spaces for learning and exploration is integral to their future. The Royal Australian Mint is in a position where they can share stories and educate visitors about our country’s financial system, democracy, history, design and manufacturing. These are all themes that if shared will help keep the Royal Australian Mint relevant for generations to come. I was interested to see how other international organisations leveraged similar themes in order to continue moving forward in a world that is seeing such a rapid shift in how humans experience museums.  

How are you going during the current Coronavirus pandemic? Any self-care tips for the GAF community?  

I think the biggest tip I have from when we were under stricter COVID-19 restrictions in the ACT would be to use it as a time to work out what you want to return to normal, and what changes you’d like to keep in your life. And that is a challenge enough without doing every Zoom class under the sun too!  

Also, treat yourself to some delicious local food and produce – I ordered a lot of grazing boxes, coffee beans, chocolates and other goodies. Not only were they brilliant, but I was also pleased that my support was going to local businesses during that time.