Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum Wales

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Over the summer we are working with ACE Action Ely Caerau (Communities First) to put together a series of fun and accessible family workshops and activities for local families. The programme was developed ahead of time with ACE and includes sessions such as:

Traditional Toys

Wash Day with Beti Bwt

Rag Rug Making

Life in the Iron Age

Pond Dipping

Pottery

So far we have had lots of fun making rag rugs, learning about and playing with traditional toys, discovering what life was like for our ancestors living in the Iron Age and experiencing what it was like to go to school in Victorian Wales.

Making Rag Rugs

Toys Workshop collage created by a parent

Making Rag Rugs

 

Toys Workshop

Making Rag Rugs

Making Rag Rugs

Here’s a snap shot of some of the feedback from the children and parents who have come along

“I love it here and I had fun.”

“Had a really enjoyable afternoon, learning to make rag rugs. Very interesting. Will definitely carry this on. Thank you to all concerned.”

Rag Rug workshop feedback tree

“I really enjoyed playing with the toys.”

“I've learnt lots!”

"I thought it was very fun, but I would not want to go to school in Victoria times."

There are still lots more sessions to come so follow this blog to learn how the rest of the summer goes!

This week we have also started a new programme of exciting storytelling, reading and activity workshops with Cardiff Libraries. These are open to everyone and will be taking place on Monday’s and Wednesday’s at St Fagans until 24th August so why not come along next time!

If you are interested in taking part in other similar family activities and events at St Fagans over the summer there are lots of opportunities to get involved, just check our What’s On guide for more information.

Did you know that an exhibition of sculpture for the blind was held at National Museum Cardiff in 1980?

Neither did I until a colleague of mine mentioned it recently. Intrigued, I did some digging to find out more.

The exhibition was the first of its kind in the Museum. It brought together 10 sculptures of different materials and textures which blind and visually impaired visitors were invited to touch. Rodin's 'Illusions Fallen to Earth', and Frederic Leighton's 'Needless Alarm', which shows a nude female figure startled by a frog, were among the works on display.

To protect the works, a thin layer of burnished wax was applied and visitors wore gloves with the fingertips cut off to reduce the risk of damage from rings or watches. It would be interesting to know what conservators today would advise!

Rubber mats and carpets were used to help lead visitors to the plinths, and the Museum's Friends were on hand to guide visitors around and engage them in conversation about the works.

To complement the exhibition and add a multisensory dimension there was also a display of seasonal scented plants and spices from the Botany collection!

Even though this exhibition was held almost 40 years ago, it is interesting how little has changed. All of the challenges they faced back then – how to strike a balance between conservation and accessibility, how to help orientate visitors, and introducing a multi-sensory element – are ones we’ve been thinking about recently.

We haven’t got a new exhibition planned (although it’s something to think about for the future!), but we have been working with members of Cardiff Institute for the Blind on a series of audio description tours. These tours will be offered to blind and visually impaired visitors starting this October.

Since the launch of the Quentin Blake exhibition our inbox has been filling up, and the phone hasn’t stopped with fellow Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake superfans wanting to know more about what's going on. Everyone wants to get involved! So I thought I’d share a little bit of what’s been happening so far.

The Exhibition

People have been coming along to draw in the gallery and already our wall is bursting with wonderful drawings.

Two images of drawings hanging from bull dog clips.

A colection of drawings by childeren of on colourfull paper.

Want to join in?  https://museum.wales/cardiff/whatson/8916/Quentin-Blake-Inside-Stories/

Activity Booklet

Our activity booklets have been flying out and the competition entries have been coming in thick and fast!

A collection of drawings that where entered in to the compertition.

To draw your way around the museum and take part in the competition, just pop in to the Clore Discovery centre to get your very own booklet https://museum.wales/cardiff/clore/

Family Workshop 

Families have been making some really nice little storybooks of their very own.  

Two pages from a story zin book that was made in a workshop.
Two pages froma sory zine book made in a workshop.

 

Teachers

We have a teacher's pack in both Welsh and English that will help you explore the exhibition with your class - https://museum.wales/media/38707/QB-FINAL.pdf  

Cymraeg - https://amgueddfa.cymru/media/38708/QB-FINAL-cy.pdf

If you would like to bring your class to the museum all the information you need about booking is available at - https://museum.wales/cardiff/learning/booking_information/

When you turn a corner in our Evolution of Wales Galleries don’t be surprised if you find Dracoraptor hangani, the new Welsh dinosaur, peering down on you from its perch on a rock.

The skeleton of this small meat eating dinosaur, currently on display in the entrance hall of the museum, has fascinated the public but palaeontologists at Amgueddfa Cymru wanted a life-like model of the animal to really show how it looked when it was alive 200 million years ago in the Jurassic.

Bob Nicholls a Bristol–based palaeoartist was commissioned to undertake this task. First Bob had to undertake extensive research to enable him reconstruct the dinosaur. He examined the bones and drew an anatomically accurate skeleton, comparing it to other species. Then added the soft tissue and considered how it would have lived before making an anatomically accurate model using steel, polystyrene, and clay. This was then moulded and a cast made of fibreglass and resin.

It was important to make sure that the reconstruction was as scientifically accurate as possible. Palaeontologists think that the body might have been covered in a feathery down, and possibly with quills along its back and Bob carefully applied feathers to the surface of the model and long quill-like feathers on the back, tail and neck. This was a meticulous process because they all had to be attached in a way that looked natural.

The project took over three months of painstaking work and after it was completed Bob said “There is no greater honour for a palaeo-artist than to be the first to show the world what a long extinct animal looked like”.

The result is incredible - you can imagine Dracoraptor jumping down into the gallery and running around.

Our exciting, family-friendly exhibition ‘Wriggle’ has recently opened delving into the wonderful world of worms. Producing this exhibition has taken many months of planning, hard work and some excellent teamwork.

The natural science conservators have been very much part of that team, and in the run up to the opening we were very busy working on numerous specimens and creations. My talented colleague Annette focused on creating the beautiful mini dioramas and other displays in the wonderful ‘wriggloo’ center piece. However my role was to work on ‘glamming’ up the worms from our fluid preserved collections!

Fluid preservation, or ‘pickling’ as it is affectionately called, is an important means of preserving many of our specimens. The fluid stops decay and helps preserve the whole 3D form of an animal or plant specimen. Many different fluids can be used but the familiar and commonly used ones are chemicals like ‘formalin’ or alcohol.

Unfortunately there can be many problems to using fluid preserved specimens in display. Whilst the 3D shape is kept, colour cannot be properly preserved. Also many of the chemicals used are potentially toxic and need to be avoided in a public environment. Thus the challenge is to make that brownish, stringy shape in the bottom of a jar safe to display and to look like the worm it is!

Working closely with our worm curators we first established where the specimen was going to be displayed in the exhibition. It was then a case of working through the selected specimens for use in the exhibition and deciding how best they could be displayed.

The overall aim was to make the worms look smart! So we used our best museum jars of beautifully craft borosilicate glass made by a British company called Dixon glass. We also have a stock of rectangular jars called ‘battery’ jars. These are very difficult to obtain but make wonderful display jars. Fluids were changed where required and a number of techniques used to display the worm clearly in the jar so that the visitor can see it at its best.

The result is a rich mix of real specimens embedded in a family friendly and interactive exhibition - it is always very pleasing to be able to display a part of the science specimens in a gallery situation.

If you visit the exhibition then please do take a close look at the diversity of all these worms, and we very much hope you enjoy the visit.