• Australia

  • The Perth Mint is at once a working mint, producing gold and other coins, and a museum in that it is still operating in its original buildings, opened in 1899, and welcomes over 120,000 visitors annually to see what is going on. Visitors to the original melting house can watch molten gold being poured into bars and see how gold, silver, platinum and palladium coins are made. Visitors can also strike and engrave their own medallions. The Mint exhibits a collection of natural gold nuggets and specimens of the gold coins that have been minted since 1899. There is a reconstruction of a gold miner's camp.

    Gold pouring demonstrations are held on the hour from 10am to 3pm on weekdays and 10am to 12 noon on weekends. Perth Mint
    Perth Mint Buildings
    310 Hay Street
    East Perth 6004
    Western Australia

    Tel. +61 8 9421 7222
    Fax +61 8 9221 9804


    Monday to Friday 9 - 16.00
    Saturday and Sunday 9 - 13.00

  • This tribute to Australia's prospectors and miners opened in the gold rush town of Kalgoorlie in November 2001. The Hall of Fame recognises the achievements of 70 mining men who have helped to create the Australian industry over the last 150 years. They include Edward Hammond Hargraves who first discovered gold in New South Wales in 1851 and Paddy Hannan who found gold at Kalgoorlie in 1893. But it is conceived primarily as a tourist and educational facility for the mining town. Ultimately it will have galleries explaining all aspects of mining, a library and a 100-seat theatre. The complex also includes the Hannans North Tourist Mine, where visitors can take an underground, watch gold panning and watch gold being poured.

    The first gallery opened in November 2001 is the Prospecting Gallery, which explains the art of prospecting and challenges visitors to search for three hidden gold nuggets. They are given a map and clues. The reward for successful prospectors is a 'Prospector' badge but, for one in every hundred who is successful, the reward is a nugget of gold. Other galleries on the business of mining and on exploration are scheduled to open during 2002. The Hall of Fame has been supported by many Australian mining companies with the aim that it will work for them in teaching people about their role in the economy. Australian Prospectors & Miners Hall of Fame Broadarrow Street Kalgoorlie Western Australia

    Tel. + 61 89091 4074
    Fax + 61 89091 4075


    Daily from 9 am - 16.30 (Closed: Good Friday, Christmas and New Year's Day)

  • Austria

  • This famous Vienna museum has at the heart of its collections treasures assembled by the Hapsburg Imperial family over many centuries. The museum's eight galleries embrace exhibits from ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, along with medieval art and Renaissance and Baroque treasures, including jewellery and goldsmiths' work. Among the best known items is Benvenuto Cellini's golden salt cellar completed in 1543 for Francis I of France. Cellini himself described it as 'Oval in form ... wrought of solid gold and worked entirely with a chisel'. Another treasure is a 14th century gold and enamel chain bearing the emblems of the Order of the Golden Fleece, the Burgundian guild which created some of the finest medieval gold ornaments.

    Most magnificent, perhaps, are two crowns in the museum's 'Treasury'. The oldest is the gold crown of the Holy Roman Emperors, probably made for the coronation of Otto the Great in Rome in 962 AD; it is in gold, precious stones and enamel. The second is the crown of the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II, made in Prague about 1602, with wonderfully detailed technical gold work. Rudolph was a great patron of goldsmiths, encouraging the best in Europe to come and work in Prague. Kunsthistorisches Museum Marie Theresien Platz Vienna 1010 Austria

    Tel. +43 1 525 2404
    Fax +43 1 523 2770


    Monday to Sunday 10 - 18.00 (Thursday 22.00)

  • Colombia

  • This famous museum at the Banco de la Republica, the central bank, in Bogota, houses a unique collection of more than 33,600 Pre-Columbian gold ornaments, dating back thousands of years. The museum was set up by the central bank in 1939 to preserve jewellery and ornaments created in what is now Colombia and Peru before Columbus discovered the Americas, by the Chavin, Nazca and Chimu civilisations, starting in 1200 BC. The ornaments range from wonderful gold creations of birds, animals, flying fish, musicians and women with children in their arms to dramatic gold burial masks. Among the most remarkable is a mask found at Tierradentro in south-west Colombia in which the eyes, nose and mouth are so expressive and sensitive that you feel you know the person represented. A pendant of a winged figure with a curious twisted nose ornament looks like a cheerful friend, while a golden raft floating on the waters of a lake depicts a religious ceremony. Animals and bird figures abound; a jaguar attacks a caveman, a heron has a long curved bill, a condor on an ear ornament has a beak of platinum. The museum also runs education programmes about the pre-Columbian world of gold.

    Museo del Oro
    Calle 16 No 5-41
    Santafé de Bogotá 1
    Tel. +57 1 343 1111 extensions 1412 or 1424 for information
    on museum programmes
    Fax +57 1 284 7450


    Tuesday to Saturday 9 -16.30 Sunday 10 - 16.30 Closed Monday

  • CostaRica

  • San José, the capital of Costa Rica, has two museums devoted to Pre-Columbian treasures: Museo Nacional de Costa Rica and Museo del Oro Precolombino located at the central bank, Banco Central de Costa Rica. Both are worth visiting. Museo Nacional has a remarkable collection of over 45,000 Pre-Columbian objects in gold, jade, ceramics and stone. The Spanish conquistadors originally named the country Costa Rica ('Rich Coast') because they found the local chiefs decked with gold ornaments. The earliest gold ornaments date from around 500 AD and depict humans, birds and animals. Little gold pendants of frogs abound, as do heavier pendants of jaguars, conveying an impression of power, and spry monkeys with golden tails circling over their bodies. Indeed, what you are really looking at is the natural history of Costa Rica transformed into gold. Sharks, snakes, alligators, spiders, scorpions, butterflies, dragonflies, bats, and deer are all cast in gold. A gold snapshot of Costa Rica a thousand or more years ago.

    Museo Nacional de Costa Rica
    Calle 17
    Avenidas Central y Segunda
    San José
    Costa Rica

    Tel. +506 221 4429
    Fax +506 283 7427


    Tuesday to Saturday 8.30 - 16.30
    Sunday 9 -16.30
    Closed Monday

  • San José, the capital of Costa Rica (meaning 'rich coast' because of the gold ornaments seen there by Spanish conquistadors) has two museums featuring wonderful Pre-Columbian gold: Museo de Oro Precolombina at the central bank's fine modern building and Museo Nacional de Costa Rica.

    Museo del Oro's unique collection of gold artefacts displays the skill of local goldsmiths from 500 AD to 1500. Their ornaments of birds, animals, ritual objects, gods and the tools and utensils of daily life have enormous vitality. A large bird spreads its wings and tail, perhaps drying its feathers, a quizzical human figure has a drum on one hand and what might be the tail of a snake clenched between his teeth and its cheerful head grasped in his hand, and a half-human half-animal figure has webbed feet like snorkelling flippers. The impression of an immensely energetic and humorous society comes through all the time.

    The central bank also houses the Museo de Numismatica that presents the monetary history of Costa Rica since 1516, including gold and silver coins, banknotes and payment bills for the local banana and coffee crops.

    Museo del Oro Precolombino
    Banco Central de Costa Rica
    San José
    Costa Rica

    Tel. +506 243 4202 (switchboard)
    +506 243 4216 (tickets)
    +506 243 4208 (education)
    +506 243 4214 (public relations)
    Fax +506 243 4220


    Tuesday to Sunday 10 - 16.30
    (Wednesday open only to Costa Ricans and residents with identification)
    Closed Monday

  • Egypt

  • Encapsulated in this museum in the heart of Cairo is the story of Egypt from 5000 BC as depicted in frescos, tomb paintings, or on papyrus and displayed in sculptures, jewellery and great treasures of gold. The Egyptians got their gold from what we know as Sudan, Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia. Their goldsmiths' skills advanced rapidly; they understood fire assaying to test the purity of gold, the art of alloying it with other metals for colour variations, casting and the lost-wax technique, which is still the secret of much jewellery manufacture. Tomb paintings show them smelting the metal in crucibles over a fire. An important symbol was the gold stamp seal, often in the form of the scarab (a tiny beetle) mounted on a gold ring. For early Egyptians, such jewellery was often related to divinity and may have been made primarily to be buried with the dead, although later more elaborate jewellery became a symbol of wealth for the living. The jewellery on display reveals that the Egyptians used colour in their designs, contrasting gold with lapis lazuli and other coloured stones. This is perfectly illustrated by a pectoral of a vulture goddess in gold, lapis lazuli, carnelian and green glass from the tomb of Tutankhamun, the boy-king of Egypt from 1361 to 1352 BC.

    The treasures of Tutankhamun, found by Howard Carter in 1922, form the entire first section of the museum's collections. They are splendid and moving objects. The great mask of solid gold, beaten and burnished, which was found over the head and shoulders of his mummy, has a haunting presence that astonishes visitors. And Tutankhamun lay in a coffin of solid gold sheet weighing 90 kilos (2,900 troy oz). It is a symbol of the magnificence achieved in gold from ancient times here for all to see.

    Egyptian Museum
    Tahrir Square
    Tel. & Fax +20 2 579 4596


    Saturday to Thursday 9 -14.00

  • France

  • The 'Hotel de la Monnaie' has housed the Paris Mint since the 18th century. The Coin & Medal Museum within displays 2000 coins and medals, many of them in gold and silver, telling the history of coinage in France. Visits to the production workshops can also be arranged.

    Monnaie de Paris (The Coin & Medal Museum)
    11 quai de Conti
    75270 Paris Cedex 06

    Tel. +33 1 40 46 55 35 (museum)
    Fax +33 1 40 46 57 09


    Tuesday to Friday 10 - 17.30
    Saturday to Sunday 12 -17.30
    Closed Monday

  • This museum, housed in the remains of Gallo-Roman baths and the 15th century residence of the abbots of Cluny on the left bank in Paris, focuses on previous metal working and other crafts in medieval society in Europe, together with stained glass, tapestries and sculpture. The display of the goldsmith's art begins even earlier with a wonderful gold torque worn by an ancient Gaul around 200 BC, a bishop's pectoral cross of stamped gold from 650 AD and a magnificent altar front from Basel Cathedral of sheet gold on oak dating from around 1000 AD. Medieval highlights include a golden rose commissioned by Pope John XXII in 1330 and wedding rings and clasps from the same period.

    Musée National du Moyen Age (National Museum of the Middle Ages)
    Thermes & Hôtel de Cluny
    6 Place Paul Painlevé
    75005 Paris

    Tel. +33 1 53 73 78 00
    Fax +33 1 43 25 85 27


    Wednesday to Monday 9.15 - 17.45 Closed Tuesday, 1 May, 25 December and 1 January

  • The museum, which is in a wing of Musée du Louvre, has collections recreating 'the art of living' from the Middle Ages to the present day. Jewellery, silverware, glassware, ceramics, furniture and wallpapers are all on display. The evolution of jewellery design over the last seven hundred years can be seen, particularly in the 18th century under Louis XV when French influence set European tastes. Among special gold ornaments is a magnificent gold and enamel set of necklace, two bracelets, earrings and belt buckle, and spectacular Art Nouveau creations by René Lalique and Paul and Henri Vever, whose Silvia Pendant shows a young girl with gold dragonfly's wings.

    Musée des Arts Décoratifs (Decorative Arts Museum)
    197 Rue de Rivoli
    75001 Paris

    Tel. +33 1 44 55 57 50
    Fax +33 1 44 55 57 84


    Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 11 - 18.00
    Wednesday 11 - 21.00
    Saturday, Sunday 10 - 18.00
    Closed Monday

  • The Louvre houses one of the world's most comprehensive collections from ancient civilisations through the 19th century. Here are Egyptian, Oriental, Greek, Etruscan, and Roman antiquities, sculpture, paintings and objets d'art. Articles in gold not only highlight the craftsmanship of successive civilisations but, among the paintings, are those which also tell us the story of gold. The Moneylender and His Wife painted in Antwerp in 1514 by Quentin Massys shows the face of business as the money-lender in his office has gold coin spread out before him in precisely the decade when the first gold was coming into Europe from the Americas. And Jacques Louis David's famous historical painting of The Coronation of Napoleon in 1802 includes a bevy of five noble women adorned with garland diadems, necklaces, earrings, and jewelled belts reminiscent of Greek ornaments of the 4th century BC; a perfect study in jewellery style.

    Among the Louvre's most prized gold treasures are three small Egyptian statues in gold, lapis lazuli and glass mounted on a single base of the gold Osiris and his family from around 850 BC. Nearby is a statue in bronze, inlaid with gold, electrum and silver of the consort of the god Amun, also dating from 850 BC. Even older are a pale yellow electrum vase from before 1200 BC, depicting two-headed winged monsters carrying gazelles, that was found at Malik in northern Iran, and a wonderful gold plate with a hunting scene from Ugarit in Syria, made around 1300 BC.

    The skill of Etruscan goldsmiths by 400 BC is seen in a pendant of the head of the river god Achelous, whose wavy hair is in gold filigree and full beard in gold granulation. The Roman era is evoked by a gold medallion portrait of the Emperor Constantine, with a gold coin in the centre, from 321 AD.

    The objets d'art, gathered together from royal and princely collections, include the elegant gold sceptre of Charles V of France, set with pearls and gems that was made around 1370 AD. While the helmet of Charles IX of France, from 1570, is a formidable headgear of iron that has been gold-plated with enamel inlays. More stylish is the crown of the Empress Eugene from 1855 that is made of gold, set with 2,490 diamonds and 56 emeralds. See also Musée des Arts Décoratifs in an adjoining wing of the Louvre.

    Musée du Louvre
    (The Louvre)
    75058 Paris cedex 01

    Tel. +33 1 40 20 50 50
    +33 1 40 20 51 51 (Voice server - French, English, Spanish, German, Italian)
    +33 1 40 20 53 17 (Information Desk)
    Fax +33 1 40 20 54 42
    Minitel 3615 Louvre


    Wednesday to Monday 9 - 18.00 (Wednesday 21.45)
    Closed Tuesday

  • Germany

  • This museum is famous for two great collections related to gold: the Green Vault (Grünes Gewölbe) with one of the finest displays of jewellery and goldsmiths' work in Europe, and the Coin-Cabinet (Münzkabinett) dedicated to European coins and medals.

    The Green Vault collection originated between 1723 and 1729 when Frederick Augustus I of Saxony converted the strong rooms of Dresden Castle into a public treasure chamber museum. The Castle was destroyed in World War II, but half the original collection is now at the Albertinum Museum. It is the most important treasure chamber collection in Europe. The displays include ornate goblets and jewellery by Johann Melchior Dinglinger, a great goldsmith who worked in Dresden in the 18th century, and work by other fellow goldsmiths, all encouraged by the patronage of Frederick Augustus.

    The Coin Cabinet collection, located near the main museum at Guntzstrasse 34, was begun in the early 16th century by George der Bärtige and is the oldest in Germany. It includes a comprehensive range of coins from the Greek and Roman period through German coinage until 1871, together with coin dies and other old equipment from the mint in Dresden. The Cabinet is an education in the history of coins and money.

    Albertinum Staatliche Kunstsammlungen
    Bruhlsche Terrasse
    01067 Dresden

    Tel. +49 351 491 4714
    Fax +49 351 491 4616


    Friday to Wednesday 10 - 18.00
    Wednesday 11 - 21.00
    Closed Thursday

  • Greece

  • The National Archaeological Museum in Athens brings you face-to-face with history through its exceptional collection of gold objects from Mycenae, the city of mainland Greece that dominated the region between 1400 - 1200 BC.

    Here is that famous gold mask that led Heinrich Schillemann, who excavated Mycenae to telegraph the King of Greece 'I have looked upon the face of Agamemnon'. This expressive mask of a bearded ruler (who may have been Agamemnon) is one of those gold portraits preserved untarnished from antiquity that is completely compelling (like that of King Tutankhamun in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo). It is a reminder of gold's importance as a symbol of great power nearly 3,500 years ago. Two more gold death masks of other rulers were found in the same grave circle at Mycenae, and now rest beside 'Agamemnon' in Athens.
    The graves yielded other astonishing gold treasures; the embossed head of a lion, the silver head of a bull with gold nose, horns and rosette on its forehead, and bronze daggers with inlaid ornamentation of gold showing men confronting a lion. A princess's diadem, its headband and radiating leaves finely embossed, was in another shaft. Gold rings, widely used as seals, depict life and customs in Mycenean society. One shows a leave-taking with passengers embarking on a ship, another has a religious theme with a goddess sitting on a folding chair as lion-headed figures present her with libation vessels, and a third, a man in combat with a lion. Gold drinking cups embossed with animals and trees are also on show. All told, a unique record in gold of an ancient civilisation.

    National Archaeological Museum
    Patission 44 St
    Athens 10682

    Tel. +30 1 821 7717 or 821 7724
    Fax +30 1 821 3573
    Web (lists all main Greek museums)


    Summer Monday 12.30 - 21.00
    Tuesday to Sunday 8 - 19.00
    Winter Monday 10.30 - 17.00
    Tuesday to Sunday 8.30 - 15.00

  • The Minoan civilisation which flourished on the Mediterranean island of Crete broadly between 2600 - 1100 BC is remembered for great palaces at Knossos, Phaestos and Mallia, for its own hieroglyphic script, the sport of bull leaping, and many achievements in arts and crafts from stone carving and pottery to sculpture, goldwork and jewellery. Frescos from the palace at Knossos show women wearing remarkably sophisticated jewellery, reflecting a prosperous society with considerably artistic skills. Frescos and jewellery are gathered together in this museum, which is dedicated largely to that remarkable period when Crete was, for a while, the commercial power of the Mediterranean. Among the gold treasures is the honeybee pendant, which represents two bees (some define them as hornets) with wings raised and holding a honeycomb of granulated gold with their legs, dating from around 1600 BC (the gold bee pendant, located in Room VII, is really the museum's symbol, being stamped on your admission ticket)... Around it is a fine display of necklaces, earrings and bracelets, all delicately worked with a skill that would, according to one historian, "have done professional credit to any Renaissance master". Many of the earrings are in the shape of bulls' heads, with curved horns forming the ring by which they were attached to the ear lobes. Rings have bezels carved with animals, dancers, costumes or legends reflecting the dazzling Minoan society 3,500 years ago. A magnificent necklace links 70 little flower rosettes, while a simple head ornament is of four gold olive leaves twisted on a gold wire stem. Do not overlook the Knossos frescos up on the first floor, where you can admire the "ladies in blue" wall painting of three Minoan belles with gold filigree twined through their hair and laden with necklaces and bracelets. The labelling of the displays in the museum is limited; it is worth buying the detailed colour catalogue (8.80 euros) as you go in to have a better idea of what you are seeing. After the museum, be sure to visit the ruins of Knossos itself (15 minutes outside Herakleion) to see where all this splendour was originally on show. Try to get to Knossos soon after it opens at 8am to avoid the crowds.

    Archaeological Museum of Herakleion
    1 Xanthiudidou Street

    Tel. +30 81 226 092 or 224 630
    Fax +30 81 241 515
    Web (lists all main Greek museums)


    April - October Monday 12.30 - 21.00
    Tuesday to Sunday 8 - 19.00
    November - March Tuesday to Sunday 8 - 17.00
    Monday 12.30 - 17.00

  • Ireland

  • The museum traces the development of Irish civilisation from 7000 BC to the present day. One of its most famous displays is the Ór Ireland's Gold, showing a unique collection of Celtic Bronze Age ornaments dating back to 1,800 BC. They include engraved lunulae, like delicate crescent moons, that were probably neck ornaments, spiral torques, big enough to go round the human neck, and a gold collar with a sliding catch to fasten it round the neck. But mystery still surrounds precisely who made them, where the gold came from and what they really signify.

    National Museum of Ireland
    Collins Barracks
    Dublin 7

    Tel. +35 3 1 6777 444
    Fax +35 3 1 6766 116


    Tuesday to Saturday 10 - 17.00
    Sunday 14.00 - 17.00
    Closed Monday

  • Italy

  • The museum, in a 16th century palace built for Pope Julius III, focuses on pre-Roman exhibits, including gold and silver works from Assyria, Egypt, Greece and, nearer home, the Etruscan civilisation of central Italy that flourished from 900 BC - 100 AD. In gold, the Etruscan ornaments are outstanding, especially those decorated with delicate granulation, a technique the Etruscans perfected. The most dramatic is an ornament made of long cylindrical granulated pieces supported by winged beasts, sphinxes and lions in stamped and granulated gold. Look out also for a necklace of thick, tubular shaped gold chain mesh with a golden head of Achelous, dating before 300 BC, and a pair of gold pendant earrings with women's heads and engraved hair.

    See also Etruscan ornaments in Museo Archeologico, Florence.

    Museo Nazionale di Villa Giulia
    Piazzale di Villa Giulia 9
    00196 Rome

    Tel. +39 06 322 6571 or 320 1706
    Fax +39 06 320 2010


    Tuesday to Saturday 9 - 19.00
    Sunday 9 - 20.00
    Closed Monday

  • This museum, in the Palazzo della Crocetta, concentrates on the Etruscan civilisation that flourished in central Italy north of Rome and traded throughout the Mediterranean from 900BC to 100 AD. The collection originated with Florence's great family, the Medicis, and contains a wide variety of Etruscan antiquities. In gold, the Etruscans great achievement was granulation; they perfected the technique of soldering tiny droplets of gold to the surface of gold sheet, achieving a delicate finish. Among the unique gold objects in this museum are a long gold pin decorated with fine granulation from around 600 BC, a clasp made of double gold sheet decorated with animals in powder granulation, and a similar one with a line of nine golden birds standing along its top.

    See also Villa Giulia, Rome.

    Museo Archeologico
    Via della Colonna 38
    50100 Florence

    Tel. +39 055 23575
    Fax +39 055 242213


    Tuesday to Friday, Sunday 9 -19.00
    Saturday 9 - 14.00
    Monday 14 - 19.00

  • The archeological finds from the excavations at Herculaneum and Pompeii (destroyed by Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD) are mainly displayed in this museum. They include three rooms devoted to Roman gold jewellery of which this collection provides the best examples of the goldsmiths' art during the Roman empire.

    Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli
    Piazza Museo 19
    80135 Naples

    Tel. +39 081 440166
    Fax +39 081 440013


    Wednesday to Monday 9am-2pm
    Closed Tuesday, 1 January, 1 May, 25 December

  • This is the city museum of the art and history of Venice, and the place to view the gold and silver coins that helped to make it the trading crossroads of the Mediterranean world for over five hundred years. The coin collection here spans almost a thousand years from the 9th century AD to the fall of the republic. Central to its reputation was the gold ducat of 0.114 ounces (3.55 grams) first minted in 1285, that became a symbol of the power and wealth of Venice and was minted, weight unchanged, for over 500 years until the fall of the republic in 1797. For much of that period Venice was also the world's premier market place for gold and silver - with its own price fixing. So you can admire the gold coins that helped to make Venice great, and then step out onto the Piazza San Marco and the Grand Canal beyond where all the action took place. A unique chance to see gold coins in their historic setting.

    Museo Correr
    Piazza San Marcho 52
    30124 Venice

    Tel. +39 041 522 5625
    +39 041 520 0935


    Daily April to October 9 - 19.00
    November to March 9 - 17.00
    Closed 1 January, 25 December

  • The museum concentrates on both 14th to 19th century paintings, and decorative art, featuring jewellery and enamels, watches, clocks, textiles and carpets. The fascination of the jewellery collection is that it embraces everything from an exquisite 7th century BC Etruscan gold pin with a bird perched on its head, adorned in fine granulation (the technique perfected by the Etruscans) to 17th century AD gold necklaces and earrings, 18th century French chatelaine (the ornate keyring worn at the waist by the lady of a great house) and a 19th century necklace, brooch and earrings in gold mesh and carved black jet. A remarkable display of the evolution of gold's use in jewellery spanning over 2,500 years.

    Museo Poldi Pezzoli
    Via Manzoni 12
    20121 Milan

    Tel. +39 02 794 889
    Fax +39 02 869 0788


    Tuesday to Sunday 10 -18.00
    Closed Monday

  • The Vatican Museums comprise a number of collections built up by various Popes over the centuries. They include classical sculpture, Egyptian antiquities, Christian relics and modern religious art. The special interest for gold is in the Etruscan collection put together by Pope Gregory XVI in 1837. Excavations in Etruria, modern Tuscany, where a sophisticated civilisation flourished from 700 to 300 BC, were turning up wonderful pottery, bronze and gold ornaments in the early 19th century. Pope Gregory preserved some of the finest gold objects in the Vatican Museum, including a delicate gold pin decorated with five lions surrounded by a border of intertwined flowers. The surface of the pin is covered with thousands of tiny gold granules - a classic example of the Etruscans' skill at granulation 2,500 years ago.

    Monumention, Musei e Gallerie Pontifice
    00120 Vatican City

    Tel. +39 06 69883333
    Fax +39 06 69885061


    Daily 8.45 am to 1.45 pm
    April to mid-June, September & October: Monday to Friday 8.45 to 4 pm
    Closed 1 January, Easter Monday, 1 May, 25 December and all religious holidays

  • Portugal

  • This great collection of Oriental, Classical and European art, assembled by Calouste Gulbenkian was bequeathed to Portugal. It includes superb Art Nouveau jewellery commissioned by Gulbenkian from René Lalique (1860-1945) such as the dragonfly corsage in gold and ivory worn by Sarah Bernhardt, and a comb in perforated gold.

    Calouste Gulbenkian
    Av. de Berna 45a
    1093 Lisbon

    Tel. +35 121 782 3000
    Fax +35 121 782 3032


    Tuesday 14 - 18.00
    Wednesday to Sunday 10 - 18.00
    Closed Monday

  • Russia

  • The great collection of The Hermitage was started in 1764 by the Empress Catherine the Great to decorate the Winter Palace of the Tsars in St Petersburg. The museum ranks with the British Museum, the Louvre and the Metropolitan Museum of Art as one of the world's finest. In almost 400 rooms are gathered together three million works of art, ranging from ancient Scythian gold to Catherine's jewellery, sculpture and paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, Rubens, El Greco, Cézanne and Picasso. The museum also houses one of the finest numismatic collections of coins and medals.

    The treasures in gold are astonishing, reminding us that the rivers of Russia and Siberia were ancient sources of gold. The gold artefacts are mostly in the dedicated 'gold galleries' on the ground floor, which are open only for pre-booked visits, normally at 12.15 and 14.15 daily. The guides speak excellent English and the tours take about 1½ hours. The five rooms offer perhaps the most concentrated displays of gold ornaments going back almost 3,000 years to be found anywhere. They are divided into three main themes: 140 gold items crafted by Scythian nomads living around the Black Sea from 700 BC; Greek ornaments from 50 BC to 200 AD made by goldsmiths living in Greek colonies by the Black Sea; and the Oriental collection of ornate gifts from India and China presented to Russian rulers between the 14th and 17th centuries.
    The most famous of the Scythian treasures include the kneeling figure of a stag, its antlers spread all along its back, and a curled panther brooch found near the Altai river in Siberia, both of which date from the 7th century BC. A gold comb with 19 long teeth and crowned by sculptured gold figures of men on horseback fighting from the 5th century BC may be the most beautiful hair ornament ever created. A quiver for bow and arrows sheathed in gold embossed with wild animals and domestic scenes was found in a Dnieper river burial mound of the 4th century. A gold vase with figures of men leaning on their spears as they talk comes from the same period. And the gold death mask of a 3rd century BC ruler, Rhesouporis III, found near the Bosphorus, is reminiscent of the gold masks found at Mycenae, now in the National Archeological Museum in Athens. An extension to these gold galleries is due to open in May 2002 and will include other gold artefacts from Western Europe.
    Elsewhere in the museum, Catherine the Great is remembered by her jewellery and possessions in gold such as snuff boxes, perfume bottles, clocks and watches. And Carl Fabergé, the master goldsmith who worked in St Petersburg from 1870, devising exotic ornaments for the Imperial family and rulers throughout Europe, is remembered by a special display of his creations.

    See also: Hermitage/exhibitions and Somerset House/exhibitions.
    The State Hermitage
    38 Palace Embankment (Dvortsovaya Embankment)
    St Petersburg

    Tel. +7 812 311 3465 (General)
    +7 812 110 9625 (Recorded info)
    +7 812 311 3420 (Exhibitions)



    Tuesday to Saturday 10.30 -18.00
    Sunday 10.30 - 17.00
    Closed Monday

  • Spain

  • This museum's gold displays remind us of Spain's ancient connections with the Mediterranean world and, above all, North Africa. They have perhaps the best collection of Phoenician gold from the 6th century BC. The Phoenicians were traders and colonisers all along North Africa and into southern Spain. Their craftsmanship in gold was revealed by the Aliseda 'treasure' unearthed in a small town in south-west Spain and housed here in Madrid. The articles, often showing African influence, include the gold diadem of an unknown ruler, a sword belt of sheet gold decorated with granulation, showing a fight between a man and a lion, along with highly decorated bracelets and earrings.

    Museo Arqueologico Nacional
    Calle Serrano 13
    28001 Madrid

    Tel. +34 9 1 577 7912
    Fax +34 9 1 431 6840


    Tuesday to Saturday 9.30 - 22.30
    Sunday and public holidays 9.30 - 14.30
    Closed Monday

  • Sweden

  • The museum's displays trace the evolution of gold ornaments in northern Europe from the end of the Stone Age around 1800 BC through the Viking Age from 800 - 1100 AD and into the Middle Ages. At first there were plain, unpolished gold wires, folded double and shaped into spirals of a few strands, to be worn around the arm. As gold imports increased in Roman times, with new gold mines in Spain, the spirals became much thicker and heavier. Then, between 375-550 AD, sometimes called Sweden's 'Golden Age', jewellery, probably made from melted Roman coins, became more sophisticated in the form of gold collars, of which the biggest of three in the museum has seven tiered rings of gold. Gold was rarer again in the Viking period, for little was then mined in Europe, but simple arm rings of twisted gold have been found. Finally, into the Middle Ages comes an elegant circular gold brooch from the early 14th century that is reminiscent of a rose window in a Gothic cathedral. The brooch has a six-pointed star in the centre and is set with sapphires, rubies and amethysts, with small cast-gold figures between the stones. It may be the work of a goldsmith in Paris, but was found in a river in central Sweden in 1818; the mystery is who wore it and how did it get there?

    Museum of National Antiquities
    Narvavägen 13 -17

    Postal Address
    Statens Historiska Museum
    Box 5248
    114 84 Stockholm

    Tel. +46 8 519 556 00
    +46 8 519 556 46 (booking group tours)


    Every day 10 - 17.00 (20.00 Thursday)

  • Switzerland

  • Permanent collections covering the 16th to 20th centuries of watches, jewellery, snuff boxes, and watchmakers' and enamellers' tools.

    Musée de l'Horlogerie et d'Emaillerie
    15 route de Malagnou
    1208 Geneva
    Tel. +41 22 418 6470
    Fax +41 22 418 6471


    Wednesday to Monday 10 - 17.00
    Closed Tuesday

  • UK

  • The V&A is one of the world's greatest museums of the decorative arts and houses perhaps the finest and most comprehensive jewellery collection illustrating the development of Western jewellery over the last 500 years.

    As the book Jewels and Jewellery about the museum's collection reminds us, "Gold has been central to jewellery at least since the middle of the third millennium BC ...Its rarity and its beauty have made it precious to all civilisations". This is the museum in which to appreciate that span of history. The opening spread of Jewels and Jewellery depicts an Etruscan rosette decorated with granulation from the 7th century BC, a great gold collar made in Ireland around the same period, gold coins and bars from a Spanish galleon wrecked in 1656 and the lid of an 18th century Swiss snuff box decorated with different coloured golds.
    The heart of the collection is in the Jewellery Gallery, beginning with masterpieces of the Middle Ages, including a gold and sapphire ring worn by the Archbishop of Canterbury between 1362 and 1374, a gold ring brooch decorated with foliage made in France before 1300, another heart-shaped French brooch and the only surviving English gold rosary from around 1480. The court jewellery of Queen Elizabeth I has pendants of enamelled gold set with diamonds, and gold lockets with miniature portraits of the Queen. Slightly later the imperial workshops in Prague were making chains of gold and pearls, enamelled in white, black and blue or set with rubies. In Europe, 18th century jewellery often looked like bouquets of flowers with enamelled gold studded with precious stones, while the late 19th century had a vogue for 'archaeological' jewellery copying ancient Greek or Egyptian pieces. Look out for Carlo Guiliano's stunning necklace with a mask of Achelous, and a sophisticated 'Greek' bracelet by Carl Fabergé. And for modern tastes there is Elizabeth Treskow's subtle brooch in the form of a fish, made of gold decorated with granulation and set with a sapphire, a pearl and diamonds or, from Japan in the 1990s, Yasuki Hiramatsu's brooch of crumpled gold foil. At the V&A the jewellery is from all ages for all tastes.

    Victoria & Albert Museum
    Cromwell Road
    SW7 2RL

    Tel. +44 20 7942 2000
    Fax +44 20 7942 2266
    Web (Museum) (Online shop)


    Thursday to Tuesday 10 -17.45
    Wednesday 10 -22.00
    Last Friday of every month 10 -22.00

  • The museum is housed within the Bank of England, which has been a major crossroads for gold for three centuries. The museum not only traces the history of the Bank, but has displays of old gold bars and historic British and foreign gold coins from the 19th and 20th centuries.

    Bank of England Museum
    Bank of England
    Threadneedle Street
    London EC2R 8AH
    Tel. +44 207 601 5491
    +44 207 601 5545 (recorded message)
    Fax +44 207 601 5808


    Monday to Friday 10 - 17.00

  • The British Museum, with almost 100 galleries, houses the most comprehensive collection of gold artefacts ever assembled. A walk around the displays tells the whole history of gold. Begin with the treasures from the royal tombs at Ur in ancient Sumer, dating from 2600 BC, which include a delicate headdress of gold beech leaves and sophisticated gold chain. Admire Egyptian gold jewellery from 2500 to 400 BC, gold earrings from the Minoan civilisation of 1700 - 1500 BC, Hittite ornaments from Carchemishon on the Euphrates river dating before 1200BC, and sophisticated Etruscan jewellery from 550 BC (including a wonderful finger ring engraved with a winged horse facing a sphinx).

    Most impressive of all is the Oxus treasure (Gallery 52), from the river that forms the northern border of Afghanistan, which comprises 170 gold objects, dating from around 450 BC, including model chariots with figures, a gold scabbard, a gold amulet mounted with griffin head with ibex horns and 51 gold plaques engraved with figures.
    The story of gold continues through jewellery from Greece, Rome and Byzantium to the Sutton Hoo ship burial treasure from 625 AD, which includes a great gold buckle, the Royal Gold Cup made in Paris around 1380 for the King of France, and Asante gold from the early 19th century. And do not overlook the historic gold watches on show in the special clocks and watches gallery.
    The British Museum also holds the world's most important collection of coins and money, with over 750,000 coins from before 600 BC to the present day, including a huge selection of Roman gold coin, gold dinars from Damascus in 696 AD from North Africa in 1277 AD and gold mohurs from India in 1605 AD.
    The gold boom of the mid-14th century is marked by a display of gold from 25 different European mints, while another of the Fishpool treasure embraces 1,237 gold coins, mostly from the early 15th century. The full story of coin is summed up in the HSBC Gallery, which alone is an education.

    See Also Library/History, Gold Exhibitions and British Museum/Sainsbury African Galleries

    British Museum
    Great Russell Street
    London WC1B 3DG

    Tel. +44 207 323 8000
    +44 207 323 8299
    Fax +44 20 7323 8616


    Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday 10 - 17.30
    Thursday and Friday 10 - 20.30

  • The Gilbert Collection is London's newest museum of decorative arts. The gift of Sir Arthur Gilbert, it includes outstanding examples of European silver, gold snuff boxes and Italian mosaics. The collection, built up by Sir Arthur and previously shown in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in California, comprises over 800 articles providing a unique exhibition of the craft of the goldsmith and the silversmith in Europe through the centuries. Four rooms have been created just for the gold objects, with dim main lighting and spotlights on the gold for maximum effect.

    Perhaps the simplest and most moving object on display, however, is an embossed gold ewer made in Anatolia (now Turkey) between 2500 - 2000 BC; a classic example of a goldsmith's skill more than four thousand years ago.
    At the heart of the collection are 220 gold snuff boxes. The fashion for snuff, a mixture of powdered and scented tobacco, reached its height in 18th century Europe and gave rise to a new art form of superbly made, expensive boxes for snuff, epitomising the luxurious tastes of the aristocracy. The boxes were often made of gold, adorned with enamel, miniatures or precious stones. The collection includes a gold snuff box with the monogram of Philip V of Spain, made in Paris around 1720, a gold, amethyst and glazed miniature box made in Augsberg or Dresden in 1755 for Elizabeth I of Russia, and six sumptuous boxes of gold, mother-of-pearl, precious stones and carved hardstones made in Berlin in 1765 for Frederick the Great of Prussia.

    Other spectacular articles include a chalice of gold, enamel, pearls and diamonds, probably made in Paris in the late 19th century by Lucien Falize, and a matched set, or parure, of comb, tiara, necklace and pair of earrings of gold and hardstones, made in Naples in 1808 for Napoleon's sister, Caroline Murat, Queen of Naples.

    The Gilbert Collection in its permanent new home in London shows the goldsmith's art at its highest level.

    Gilbert Collection
    London WC2R 1LN
    United Kingdom

    Tel. +44 207 420 9400
    Fax +44 207 240 8704


    Monday to Saturday 10 - 18.00
    Sunday 12 - 18.00

  • USA

  • The Metropolitan in New York, like the British Museum in London, is in the first rank of world museums and its twenty or more diverse collections touch on many aspects of the history of gold from that of early civilisations to Art Nouveau of the early 20th century. The collections on Ancient Near Eastern Art, on Egyptian Art, on Greek and Roman Art, and on the Arts of Africa, all have their gold treasures. Among the earliest is a gold and silver drinking vessel in the form of a stag from the Hittite empire of central Anatolia between the 15th-13th century BC. One of the most beautiful is a fluted golden bowl from Persia around 500 BC. The Egyptian department prides itself on jewellery from the tomb of Princess Sit-hathor-yunet in the XIIth Dynasty (1897 - 1797 BC), including a necklace of gold and semi-precious stones with the name Senwosret II. The collection from the Americas includes gold ornaments from the Pre-Columbian cultures of Mexico, Central and South America. While 20th century jewellery displays include the Art Nouveau jewellery of René Lalique.

    Metropolitan Museum of Art
    1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street
    New York
    NY 10028
    Tel. +1 212 535 7710


    Tuesday to Thursday and Sunday 9.30 - 17.30
    Friday and Saturday 9.30 - 21.00
    Closed Mondays, 1 January, Thanksgiving Day, 25 December

  • Although the Brooklyn Museum of Art does not enjoy such a convenient location as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it has world class collections, notably on ancient Egypt and the ancient Middle East. From Egypt it has gold and silver gilded sarcophagi and gold jewellery from the Middle Kingdom. In other galleries, look out for gold jewellery from Africa and a new presentation on Peruvian art, including Pre-Columbian gold.

    Brooklyn Museum of Art
    200 Eastern Parkway, at Washington Avenue
    New York
    Tel. +1 718 638 5000 (ext. 234 for tours)


    Wednesday to Friday 10 - 17.00
    Saturday and Sunday 11 - 18.00
    Closed Monday and Tuesday