Women in Power: Coins from the Barber Collection

Women in Power: Coins from the Barber Collection

22 June 2024 –  26 January 2025

Spanning nearly 2,000 years and more than 5,000 miles, the Barber’s forthcoming coin exhibition explores historical women who have appeared on coins.

From London to Beijing, 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.

  • Image above: Reverse of a gold nomisma of Theodora, made in Constantinople in 1055/6.


22 June 2024 –  26 January 2025



Barber Family Workshop with Karoline Rerrie 

Saturday 13 July, 10 – 12 noon 

£3, booking essential  

Create your own coin design Press Print inspired by powerful women and coins from our coin exhibition, Women in Power. Experiment with colour and texture as you explore the possibilities of printmaking. Perfect for 6-12 year olds.


Lunchtime Talk | Exhibition Introduction 

Wednesday 18 September, 1 – 1.30pm 

Free, booking essential  

Join Barber’s Coin Curator, Dr. Maria Vrij for an exhibition introduction.

Related Online Talks

Women on Coins, with Maria Vrij, Coin Curator.

Listen by clicking the title above and/or read the transcript and view further images.