Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum Wales


In September 2016 Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales will again be participating in Open Doors, an event organised by Cadw (the Welsh Government’s historic environment service). The idea behind the event is to offer people the opportunity to visit a variety of sites important to the culture and history of Wales. The highlight of the event is the opportunity to visit places that are not normally, or are infrequently, open to the public.

The National Collections Centre, Nantgarw, is part of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, and houses thousands of interesting and important objects that are not on display. Although not normally open to the general public we have always offered access to researchers, and also to various groups and societies. Staff at the National Collections Centre have always seen the importance of opening up the site to allow visitors access to view some of these objects and to see the work that is carried out by staff on site.

We are always looking for new ways to get visitors on site, to encourage people to learn about what we do, and provide more access to the collections in store. Therefore we have decided to repeat last year’s success and get involved in Open Doors again. This year we will be open on two days as part of Open Doors, on Wednesday 7th September and Thursday 29th September 2016. There will be five tours on each day at 10.00, 11.00, 12.00, 2.00 and 3.00. Each tour will last about 45 minutes and visitors will be able to take a closer look at some of the collections held on site, and find out about the work of staff based here.

Booking is essential for these tours. Please ring us on 029 2057 3560 or 029 2057 3583 to book a place, or find out further information. You can also email us on

Further details can be found on the Cadw website, as well as details of all other places open as part of Open Doors.

We hope as many people as possible will be able to enjoy the tours and be able to see some of the amazing objects preserved by Amgueddfa Cymru for the people of Wales.

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


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 collection of drawings by children on colourfull paper.

Want to join in?

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 were entered in to the competition.

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

Family Workshop 

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

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



We have a teacher's pack in both Welsh and English that will help you explore the exhibition with your class -  

Cymraeg -

If you would like to bring your class to the museum all the information you need about booking is available at -

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.