A MUSEUM that holds Scotland's oldest banknote and has one million pounds on display is to close.

Lloyds Bank is shutting the popular Museum on the Mound, at the historic old Bank of Scotland head office in the heart of Edinburgh

The museum is visited by more than 50,000 people a year and was opened 11 years ago by author Ian Rankin. It will close at the end of December.

The eight room museum, which is free and popular with school groups, is known for its exhibition of a million pounds, Scotland’s oldest banknote, and an interactive display on safe-cracking.

Comment: Why museum's on the money for school children

It also shows the Bank of Scotland’s original founding act from 1695, the ledger to attract its first investors and the bank’s 18th century iron money kist or chest.

The closure decision has dismayed supporters of the museum, and will lead to several job losses.

Cllr Alex Staniforth, the Green’s culture spokesman, said: “It would be a real shame to lose the museum, which is a valuable educational resource for local schools as well as a visitor attraction, because Bank of Scotland wants to save a bit of money.

“The public purse was very generous to the banks following the crash of 2008 and to respond by stripping a cultural venue from the heart of the city is a very cold way of repaying that support.”

Comment: Why museum's on the money for school children

Joanne Orr, the chief executive of Museums Galleries Scotland, said: “We regret to hear of the closing of any museum and the closure of the Museum on the Mound will be a loss to Edinburgh’s tourist offering.

“We hope that Lloyds Banking Group will continue their commitment in some capacity to the museum’s education and outreach programmes, which many school children and young people have benefited from.”

Lloyds, however, said that the closure of the museum did not mean that the future of the entire historic site on The Mound, and its landmark building, was in question.

The museum is within the imposing 19th century building, which was completed in 1878.

“It remains a core site for the Group,” a spokesman said.

Comment: Why museum's on the money for school children

The Bank of Scotland, as HBOS, was acquired by Lloyds TSB in 2009.

The museum as opened in September 2006 under the HBOS regime, and founded by its head of archives, Helen Redmond-Cooper.

A Lloyds Banking Group spokesman said: “The group has made the difficult decision to close the Museum on the Mound by the end of the year.

“Over the last 11 years, the museum has been one of the ways that we have informed the public about the history of money and its role in society.

“The Group remains committed to helping young people throughout Scotland understand financial management through our current flagship financial education and inclusion programmes.

“We will continue to work with our own archive service and other accredited institutions to ensure the artefacts are preserved.”

The last day that the museum will be open is Friday 29 December.

A spokesman said that there will be a “small reduction in roles” as a result of the closure, and staff have already been informed of the museum’s closure.

He said material owned by the banking group will be returned to its Edinburgh archive site.

The spokesman noted: “The Edinburgh site will continue to be open to the public by an appointment service. Materials on loan to us will be returned to the lending institutions.”

Several major museums have loaned objects to the museum, including the British Museum, the National Museums of Scotland, the National Archives and the Royal Mint.

Comment: Why museum's on the money for school children

It is also known for its successful schools service, which insiders say, has attracted great praise from teachers, schools and local authorities.

It receives around 150 educational visit a year, most of which are primary and secondary schools, bringing around 4000 children.

Other educational visits include adult education groups, adults with special needs, student teachers and children from special schools or secure units.

The museum has consistently achieved a five-star visitor rating from Visit Scotland, and hundreds of positive reviews on TripAdvisor.