On June 17, The American Numismatic Association (ANA) sent an official statement to our editorial offices announcing the suspension of the 2020 World’s Fair of Money show. It was originally scheduled for Aug. 4-8 in Pittsburgh, Pa., and is the largest annual coin and paper-currency event in the United States.
The ANA Board of Governors has been deliberating the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on the show and whether aggressive mitigation requirements to ensure the safety of attendees made continuing with the Pittsburgh event feasible, according to the official statement. Current State of Pennsylvania guidelines restricts indoor gatherings to a maximum of 250 people at any one time. The World’s Fair of Money typically attracts upward of 10,000 people during its 5-day smorgasbord of educational offerings, live auctions, affiliated club meetings, and a bourse floor with nearly a thousand dealers and government mints from around the world.
The Board resolved in a vote on June 16 to postpone the show and to consider alternate sites and/or dates for the 2020 World’s Fair of Money.
According to Jennifer Ackerman, ANA conventions director, because of Pennsylvania’s restrictions on indoor gatherings, “none of the usual World’s Fair of Money offerings would be possible at the Pittsburgh show. No exhibits, no educational programming, no Kids Zone, no club meetings, no banquet, and a significantly reduced bourse. Our team has been in nearly daily conversations with the convention center, but it's become evident that they are unable to fulfill their contractual obligations.”
Pittsburgh World’s Fair of Money Committee Chair Tom Uram noted the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists (PAN) had “anticipated a convention that would showcase the ANA and the city of Pittsburgh. But based on our analysis and review of all relevant information – the diminished show experience for attendees, health and safety issues, security, financial impact and the significant unknown outside variables – the host committee recommended that the ANA Board not hold the Pittsburgh World’s Fair of Money,” he says.
Since 1891, the American Numismatic Association’s convention has only been canceled twice; in 1918 during the flu pandemic and again in 1945 because of World War II.
“The decision to postpone the World’s Fair of Money was very emotional and extremely difficult,” says ANA President Steve Ellsworth. “The convention staff and the Pittsburgh organizing committee worked hard to make the show a reality. PAN went beyond all expectations to deliver what would have been a fantastic event, and I’m deeply disappointed that the collecting community won’t be able to experience the results of their efforts. I know we will return to Pittsburgh in the not-so-distant future. In the meantime, we will pursue opportunities to host the event in another city in the weeks ahead.” Options briefly discussed include The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo., and the Mountain America Expo Center and Salt Palace Convention Center, both of which are located in Salt Lake City, Utah.
“During these trying and socially-isolated times, we were looking forward to reconnecting with our fellow numismatists,” says ANA Executive Director Kim Kiick. “We’re disappointed we won’t be seeing everyone in Pittsburgh but are working hard to create other opportunities to connect.”
“The ANA and PAN recognize that dealers, clubs, and many individuals may have already made plans and reservations in Pittsburgh for August,” says Ackerman. Hotel room reservations within the reserved block in the Omni William Penn, Embassy Suites by Hilton, Courtyard, or Westin Convention Center that were made through VisitPittsburgh Housing Services automatically will be canceled within 48 hours; do not contact the hotel directly. For those that made lodging accommodations directly with a hotel, the cancellation will need to be made directly with those entities. Lodging questions should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Dealers will be contacted directly by the ANA convention team. “To mitigate the influx of calls and emails, dealers will be contacted by phone within the next week to discuss the option of a future credit towards an ANA show or a refund,” Ackerman says. “The ANA convention staff will be reaching out to every dealer who reserved a table at Pittsburgh. Your patience is much appreciated.”
The American Numismatic Association is a congressionally chartered, nonprofit educational organization dedicated to encouraging the study and collection of coins and related items. The ANA helps its 28,000 members and the public discover and explore the world of money through its vast array of educational and outreach programs, as well as its museum, library, publications, and conventions. For more information, call (719) 632-2646 or visit money.org