Numismatics Museum on Ometepe Island

Defined as the study or collection of currency, numismatics goes beyond mere coin collecting to analysis of the history behind items used to trade throughout the ages. El Ceibo Museum on the Nicaraguan island of Ometepe has an entire section devoted to this fascinating subject, offering visitors the opportunity to view the extensive private collection belonging to Moises Ghitis Rivera. Inaugurated on 31 March 2007, the Museo Numismático (Numismatic Museum) is housed in what was originally the collector’s home before he decided to open his collection to the public.

Moises Ghitis Rivera started his collection when he was twelve years old. As his collection of Nicaraguan currency grew, he started setting it out in chronological order, tracking the different presidents of Nicaragua and how each president influenced the design of the currency, both coins and notes, in circulation during his or her presidency. Upon deciding to share this unusual collection with fellow Nicaraguans and visitors to the country, Rivera converted his house into a museum, with different areas devoted to different eras in Nicaragua’s history.

Starting with the currency presently in use in Nicaragua, the córdoba, the collection moves progressively back in time with areas named Chamorro, Revolution, Somoza and El Córdoba. Named after Francisco Hernández de Córdoba, the founder of Nicaragua, the very first córdoba was introduced on 20 March 1912, replacing the peso as the official currency. With more than 800 items, the collection includes the first official currency of Nicaragua and subsequent currencies, as well as information on currency finance, pictures of the various leaders and other historical facts.

Tourists from all over the world visit Ometepe island and its attractions, including the Numismatic Museum. Many of these visitors donate the currency of their home countries to the museum and a growing collection of foreign coins is also on display. In the past, currency was seen to be as much of a national identification as a country’s flag. With globalization and the creation of the Eurozone – seventeen European countries using the euro as common currency – this symbol of nationality is fading in some parts of the world. Collections such as the one displayed in the Numismatics Museum of Ometepe, ensure that the long and interesting history of currency is made available to present and future generations.