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Archives & Museum Informatics

How to Get More Than 500,000 Visitors in 6 Months

Guido Lütsch, MoneyMuseum, Germany


The MoneyMuseum is probably the world's biggest virtual museum of money. Over 1,000 HTML-pages bring you all "you ever wanted to know about money". For numismatists and "money-specialists" a database is currently under construction. After the opening on April 29th, 1999 the virtual MoneyMuseum was visited by more than 500,000 within the first 6 months. This was an incredible success for a single museum and could only take place on the internet.

We'd like to present how the MoneyMuseum was built in just a few months from primary idea to the opening event. Furthermore, we'd like to present the marketing-concept and explain why we were successful in attracting more than 500,000 visitors within the first 6 months.



How to Get More Than 500,000 Visitors in 6 Months:

  • The subject must interest a wide audience. For instance money in the MoneyMuseum.
  • The overall concept must be simple. For instance: the 9-room concept of the MoneyMuseum.
  • The design must be intuitively comprehensible. For instance: the navigation-style of the MoneyMuseum.
  • Information should be exciting, witty and informative at the same time. For instance: the first story of the MoneyMuseum.
  • Interactivity should be integrated. For instance: the questionaire in the MoneyMuseum.
  • Good PR and media activities. For instance: the opening event of the MoneyMuseum.
  • The Internet pages must be permanently updated and expanded. The visitor wants to experience something new every time he visits, but at the same time trusts to find again that which he already knows.
  • Connect virtual information with real events. For instance: the slide show of the Moneymuseum in the Landesmuseum, Zurich and real events.


Conzett: Founder and Director of the MoneyMuseum

In 1997, Dr. Jürg (pronounced Yorg) Conzett, came up with the idea to have a special place where people could come to in order to think about the meaning of money and itís affect on society. This special place should allow food for thought and produce critical discussions on the subject. The target group should be the "intellectually curious." Dr. Conzett, a financial consultant, has had many opportunities in his life to observe people in their behavior when handling finances and is therefore in the forefront when it comes to knowing the trials and temptations of money.

Coming from a long line of book publishers, Dr. Conzett has been able to realize his discoveries and publicize his ideas. Firstly, through a series of "Money" books he publishes, and secondly through the production of the "MoneyMuseum" as a place where all can seek knowledge on the subject and allowing for an open debate on the theme.

The Idea of a Virtual Museum

A medium was needed to reach the greatest number of people with a MoneyMuseum. The first idea to work directly with a real museum was rejected. The MoneyMuseum should also be fun and exciting and allow the opportunity to be actively involved in whatís happening in the museum.

The second idea was to produce the museum as a CD-ROM, but the inflexibility and the difficulty in updating and revising the museum spoke against this option.

With itís amazingly development and speedy spread around the world, the Internet proved to be the ideal platform.

A virtual museum had itís many advantages:

  • Economical construction
  • The opportunity to revise quickly
  • Low cost of maintenance
  • The endless opportunity to expand and upgrade
  • User-friendly through key word search
  • Open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day
  • Visitor-interactivity


The Concept

The basic concept: Each of the three floors are divided into three further departments that open up into three other departments. Therefore the "9-Room-Concept."

The first floor is divided into:

  • Making Money: This department is divided into the three rooms "Atelier, Workshop and Bank." It is here that the visitor discovers all about the materials money is made of; the design of money; how money is made and the theories of economics.
  • Loving Money: The three rooms "Passion, Temptation and Tradition" are divided into the departments Thieves, Counterfeiters and Money Fairy Tales. Playboys, millionaires and many odd anecdotes are found in the department "Loving Money."

  • Moving Money. The Rooms have the headings "Market": a place about financial trade with investment tips and a wishing well!; the "Cafe": a place to spend some time and listen to a radio interview with the museum director or to fill out the questionnaire "Which Money Personality am I?." The "Forum" gives every person the opportunity to find out the Museum Directorís 10 Secrets to Wealth and the opportunity to share his opinion with the Director via email.

Basically the MoneyMuseum is targeted to the "intellectually curious". According to strength of knowledge and thirst for information the museum visitor can choose between the following three floors:

First Floor

The first floor covers general subjects. The goal of this floor is to grab the interest and excite the general audience. Therefore, language and presentation is kept simple. In an amusing and witty way the visitor is presented with information and curiosities about money.

The way how money is stolen, counterfeited and how it is made is presented. In the Cafe the visitors can chat with other visitors, find out what type of money personality they have and much more.

Second Floor

The second floor deals with the many eras of civilization. Divided into the subjects "Antiquity, Middle Ages and Modern Age", the visitors are presented with coins, information and maps of these eras. Here one would find out, for example, about the Spanish Peso and how it spread throughout the world as well as who the relevant personalities in each era were.

Third Floor

The third floor is for specialists. Coin collections and those of famous collectors are presented. Numismatists and coin lovers have the opportunity to present and trade their own coins.

Web Design

It was purposefully kept in mind that the visitors should be presented with a visit to a real museum and this is shown by its design. An architecturally classic style was chosen for the building front. Three different existing buildings lend their design to the building on the home page. The drawings of people convey an busy picture and hence invite the visitor to enter the museum.


The entrance hall or foyer has three stories. Directly from this standpoint the visitor can enter all departments of the museum. All departments and rooms are labeled. The foyer (as well as the first page) takes its design from a real existing building. (Taken from Berlinís Museum for Communication with which a close cooperation could be built.) It was a coincidence that the Museum for Communication has exactly the same concept that the MoneyMuseum has with its three stories divided into three rooms each.


The navigation was kept as intuitive as possible. A stair-symbol brings the visitor always back to the foyer. A large "A" brings one to the glossary where 100 of the wittiest and most interesting money items are explained. A click on the hourglass brings one to an overview of the history of money. The question mark brings one to the help page which explains the various functions of the MoneyMuseum. The "Triangle" (one level/chapter up) brings the visitor one level back in the structural design.

On the second story weíve added three more buttons to the usual navigation-symbols. These enable the visitor to move within each era problem free.

Techniques Used

The first floor was built with the programming language HTML. In the meantime, as of February, 2000, the MoneyMuseum has grown to over 1,000 HTML pages. Interactive pages are perlscript operated.

The second floor will be presented by databank. The databank uses pictures and text to dynamically produce an internet page. Animations are partly gif-animations and partly flash-animations. Particularly the nightly Witching Hour was built entirely with Flash 4 and integrated with sound.


The success of the MoneyMuseum depends, according to us, on many factors:

  • The Subject: Money is a subject that interests everybody.
  • The Concept: It seems we were successful in interpreting a simple but interesting idea.
  • The Information: Thereís something for everybody. Academic information as well as informational oddities are offered.
  • The Design: The MoneyMuseum presents the impression of being in a real existing museum. When one hears the word "MoneyMuseum" one sees a real museum.
  • The Wit: Not only the many oddities about money, but also the presentation of various figures from the serious to the jocular suits a mixture of various tastes. For example, the janitor Krawuppke who greets the visitor on every "page under construction" with a thick Berlin dialect has become a favorite amongst the MoneyMuseum visitors.
  • And naturally, Marketing: With small but spectacular events we were able to become one of the most regarded Museum Sites in Europe in a matter of days.

Introducing the MoneyMuseum to the Public

On the 29th of April, 1999 the MoneyMuseum was presented to the public. It was important that this introduction take place in a real location so that interpretation by the media, especially television, could take place. At the same time a location had to be chosen that didnít lead the public to think that a real existing museum was being presented. We wanted to avoid that our future visitors would enter the internet and search for an existing museum. Therefore, we rejected the possibility of a real museum as the event location.

The Berlin Memorial Church was an ideal choice: A worldwide well known building where no one would get the idea that this is in fact a money museum, and therefore, the fact that the MoneyMuseum only exists in the internet would be communicated.

The MoneyMuseum presents itself as an old and honorable building. Itís no wonder that ghosts spook the old building. In October of 1999 ghosts were discovered for the first time around midnight by the janitor Krawuppke. A speedy decision to take advantage of the opportunity and present the "cyber-ghosts" to the public was made and since the 27th of November, 1999 spirits spook the MoneyMuseum from midnight to 1:00 am. (But of course these are middle European ghosts and only show themselves at Central European Time. )

Public Relations

For the opening, three different mailings of press kits were done and the representatives of the press were invited to a conference in the Memorial Church.

In order to excite the press photographers and TV crews to record the event, 18,000 MoneyMuseum "bank notes" were printed and thrown into the public by two hired actors on stilts. These notes would then be cashed in for real Deutsche marks directly on site. At the same time a question and answer prize game-event pertaining to the MoneyMuseum was shown on a huge video screen. Two winners would win 1,000. DM each.

These measures lead to media-effective coverage. The "raining bank notes" were in all daily newspapers and countless television reports by the next day. This high regard of an opening event has the result that the MoneyMuseum in the space of a few hours was respected in the most relevant PR circles.


Escorting the opening event advertisements were printed in all the biggest computer and technical magazines in Germany. In all 100,000 DM flowed into the advertising budget.

Results: TV, Radio and Print

Based on the described PR and marketing activities the following results were reached:

Print: In the period from the 29th of April to July, 1999 a total of 132 newspaper reports were revealed.

Internet: A mention in the biggest newsgroups and search engines.

TV Reports: In the period of time between the 29th of April and June, 1999 21 television reports were revealed.

Radio: The manager and the director of the MoneyMuseum were guests on countless talkshows.


  • The huge success of our opening event gave us the assurance to regularly stage events. On the 27th of November, 1999 we started our "Witching Hour" with an appropriate contest.
  • In April, 2000 we await our 1,000,000th visitor to the MoneyMuseum. This will be accompanied with a contest and big event with press conference in the foyer of the MoneyMuseum, respectively the Museum for Communication in Berlin.
  • Our plan is a "Long Night of the Museums" in which web-cams will be set up in various real museums where they would be linked to each other by the internet in this night. Virtual and real museums meet for the first time on the same platform in the internet.

The Results


Visitors and Page Views per Month


Visitors per month

Page Views per month

29. April - May 1999



June 1999



July 1999



August 1999



September 1999



October 1999 (527.796)



November 1999



December 1999



January 2000



February 2000



March 2000