Eileen Russell is a vivacious and engaging speaker. She's also young: her mere presence pulled down the average age at the 13 April 2004 meeting of the Montgomery County Coin Club by a significant factor. Eileen is the daughter of long-time MCCC members Ed and Jonetta Russell; her talk was an exploration the soon-to-be-opening Money Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. Ms. Russell is an artist and graphic designer whose company, Quatrefoil Associates, was awarded the contract to plan the visitor's center and exhibition hall associated with the Western Printing Facility of the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The BEP is essentially a factory for paper money production.

This was a challenging project for several reasons. The work needed to be completed on an extremely tight schedule, and the security requirements imposed by the BEP were intense. Aspects of the exhibit associated with the new US $20 bill, for instance, had to be done without ever being given even a glimpse of that changed design. Other facets of Ms. Russell's assignment are still under a non-disclosure agreement and so she could not discuss them. Eileen did reveal that some of her working documents had to be kept on an encrypted CD-ROM in a combination safe in a locked closet.

The Money Museum will be open to the public at the end of April 2004, so Ms. Russell's talk gave the MCCC members a "sneak preview" of the layout and exhibits. The museum's configuration includes a glassed-in catwalk to permit tourists to view the printing presses on the plant floor as they produce actual currency. It also features displays on the history of money and the details of the printing process, including hands-on and multimedia exhibits. In addition, there are computer-based touch-screens and a movie theater for educational programs.

The Western Printing Facility is home to a vault that typically holds eight billion dollars in currency. During her tours of the plant, Ms. Russell reported, she was under constant observation; her digital camera attracted particularly close scrutiny. She reported that (in instances of repeated shop humor) Bureau officials dismissed the risk of cost-overruns with the comment, "We're the BEP — we'll just print more money!"

Ms. Russell thanked members of the Texas Numismatic Association for their help in the research phases of her project, and for their generous volunteer work as docents in the museum. She reported on the location of the Money Museum, its hours of operation, and the 14 April preview opening of the museum for families of BEP employees.

In response to questions from her audience, Ms. Russell sketched out her own background — from high school in Montgomery County to the University of North Carolina where she graduated with a degree in journalism, to her current job at Quatrefoil Associates and her work on a masters degree in museum education at George Washington University.

(see also MontgomeryCountyCoinClub (20 May 2003), ... )

TopicRecreation - TopicPersonalHistory - TopicHumor - TopicOrganizations - 2004-04-28

(correlates: CounterBeanCounters, ThanksAndAcknowledgements2, ArtistryAtThePiano, ...)