The Museum of American Finance was a product of the great boom on Wall Street that came to an abrupt end a year ago. The a relatively-young museum at the heart of New York’s Financial District was conceived when Wall Street was riding high, it opened in January of 2008, preceding the destruction of Wall Street as we knew it by just a few months.
“Someday all of Wall Street will be a museum,” wrote my friend Everett Stuckey.
So how will this bubble-seum remain relevant during the crisis? By opening a new exhibit called “Tracking the Credit Crisis: A Timeline,” as the first exhibit to spotlight the ongoing global financial event that began some 18 to 24 months ago.
The giant exhibit, measuring 20 feet across and accompanied by a 10 minute video, is the museum’s first attempt to try to break down the complicated nature of the financial crisis that has plagued Wall Street and wiped out some $40 trillion in wealth for the everyday citizen, said Executive Director Lee Kjelleren.
“The challenge for our museum, and all museums, is to try to break down complicated subjects into readily understandable presentations,” Kjelleran said in an interview. “We want to be the ‘go to’ place for this issue.”
The timeline, which was a creation of Kjelleran and museum staff, uses colour-coded text to show a reader how each company, government or market event related with others during the crisis. The timeline uses a chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average as a background.
The museum’s timeline starts before what has been generally considered as the “official start” of the credit crisis — the collapse of the two Bear Stearns hedge funds in the summer 2007 — with the bankruptcy of subprime lenders Mortgage Lenders Network USA and ResMae in February 2007.
The timeline then tracks all of the major events during the crisis, from the sale of Bear Stearns to JPMorgan Chase (JPM: 27.72, 0, 0%), to the nationalization of Fannie Mae (FNM: 0.6765, 0, 0%) and Freddie Mac (FRE: 0.7498, 0, 0%), to President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package. The exhibit ends currently with the $60 billion quarterly loss of American International Group (AIG: 1.05, 0, 0%) announced in March of this year.
The exhibit will be updated each month with the credit crisis’s major events as long as the museum sees fit.
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