: Community Engagement

Adult Learners Week 2023: its legacy at St Fagans National Museum of History and across Amgueddfa Cymru

Loveday Williams, 24 January 2024

Last year we celebrated Adult Learners Week in September, alongside other learning providers across Wales. 
We were excited to deliver activities across all 7 museums within the  Amgueddfa Cymru family, building on existing offers and piloting new sessions and activities.
At St Fagans we were able to develop a full programme of activities which took place throughout the week, including crafting taster sessions and workshops, mindful nature walks and opportunities for Welsh and English learners. 
The Amgueddfa Cymru programme was promoted via the new Adult and Community Learning section of our website, with the individual site offers also appearing on their main What’s On listings page. We were also able to promote our programme via the Adult Learners Week platform, supported by the Learning and Work Institute, as well as ensuring we ran a comprehensive social media campaign in the run up and throughout the week, across X (Twitter), Instagram and Facebook.
As part of this work, we also promoted our series of virtual craft tutorials and taster sessions and the self-led learner resources we offer. 
We worked closely with partners including Dysgu Cymraeg Caerdydd, Menter Caerdydd, Adult Learning Wales and Creative Lives to ensure our programme was tailored to the needs of the learners we hoped to attract and was enhanced by the richness that partnership working brings.
Over the course of the week, we saw a total of 160 people take part in the learning opportunities on offer at St Fagans and a total of 331 people across Amgueddfa Cymru as a whole. This marked our biggest ever Adult Learners Week, of which we are very proud. Take a look at some of the highlight here: https://youtu.be/lgKtmLHr1_Q 
We wanted to ensure we collected feedback from learners to help us develop and improve our adult learning offer across the organization. 
Here’s a sample of some of the learner feedback we received: 
“Wonderful, positive, creative environment.” 
“Learning a new skill is fun and fulfilling”.  
“Very social and therapeutic experience”  
“I really enjoyed the workshop. Very fun and positive experience. Facilitators were really friendly and found it really therapeutic and sociable.”  
“Very much enjoyed – great opportunity to learn a new skill. Great teacher. I feel very chilled now.” 
“Thoroughly enjoyable and interesting walk – saw things I’d never noticed previously.” 
“Yn agordrwsfydhudol.”  
“I really enjoyed the Mindful Nature Walk at St Fagans. I learnt a lot and would recommend it! It was great to have someone so knowledgeable leading the session.” 
“Friendly environment, not at all intimidating, so if you want to try something new go for it!” (willow weaving bird feeders) 
“Empowered! A great way to learn a new skill.” 
“Great fun! Just go do it, you will enjoy learning a new skill!”  
“Dw i’nmeddwl bod digwyddiadauyn y Cymraeg yndddaiawn.”  
“I have always wanted to make an autumn wreath and the course gave me the confidence. It was an inspirational course.” 
The tuition was fantastic. There was help when needed but given enough space and time to try and do it yourself.”  
“Very much enjoyed drawing again after 20 years. Must get back into it now!” 
“I thoroughly enjoyed the sketching session at St Fagans and the encouraging nature of the group.”  
“A motivating, supporting and encouraging session which was led excellently by Marion and Gareth and so well hosted by Loveday.” (Sketching workshop at St Fagans with Creative Lives).  
“It feels so wonderful to try something new and see the results so quickly.” (Enamelling taster session).  
Legacy programmes: 
As a result of the piloting opportunities Adult Learners Week provided, we have since been able to launch 3 new regular Adult Learning programmes at St Fagans and National Museum Cardiff. 
Our monthly Audio Described Tour programme (alternating monthly between the two museums and shortly to launch at the National Roman Legionary Museum in Caerleon, with a view to extend to other sites as and when capacity allows).
Our new monthly Sketching Group at St Fagans, in partnership with Creative Lives (and building on the success of the wonderful National Museum Cardiff Drawing Group). So far we’ve held 3 sessions. Our first attracted 6 people, our second 8 and our third 24! Feedback has been so positive and word is spreading far and wide. If you’d like to join us next month please do so. All the info can be found in the link above. 
New termly Bore i Ddysgwyr Cymraeg Welsh Learner Mornings in collaboration with Dysgu Cymraeg Caerdydd and Menter Caerdydd. Last term we welcomed 35 Welsh learners to the museum to take part in a session on Welsh Christmas traditions. We’re looking forward to welcoming an existing group of Welsh speakers and learners on 25th January for Dydd Santes Dwynwen where we’ll be exploring the Welsh Love Spoon collection and then the next Bore i Ddysgwyr Cymraeg. 
The 6 commitments enshrined in our 10-year strategy Amgueddfa2030 are embedded throughout our adult learning programme, specifically that of inspiring creativity and learning for life
We look forward to continuing to grow our adult learning offer and hope to welcome you in 2024 to one of our museums to take part in an activity or enjoy using one of our self-led learner resources! 

Skills Development Placement at St Fagans

Chloe Ward, 13 December 2023

Harri recently finished a Skills Development Placement at St Fagans National Museum of History, where he shadowed our Front of House staff one day week for 6 months. The placements offer workplace experience for people 16+ who have barriers to work, allowing them an opportunity to build skills and confidence. In St Fagans, we specifically support individuals who are bilingual and Welsh speaking for front of house skills development placement roles.

Before Harri finished, we caught him for a chat to see what it was like taking part in a skills development placement at St Fagans! Here’s what he said: 


How did you get involved in a Skills Development Placement with us at Amgueddfa Cymru? 

I started in September 2022. I helped out with the Food Festival at St Fagans and Lauren from Elite Employment Support put me in touch with the Volunteering & Placements department. I met with the team at St Fagans. I am bilingual and it’s an added bonus that I could use my Welsh whilst on placement. 


What did you do whilst on placement? 

I started in the galleries for 2 hours. I felt the need to extend my hours to 10.00-3.00, which was just right. 

Whilst on the galleries I helped the Museum Assistants by using the clicker to count people’s attendance. 

Sometimes I would help Will clean any spillages on the galleries. 

I spent a day with Ryland – I remember travelling with him on the buggy to the castle, that was fun! We made sure the garden and the surroundings were tidy. 


What did you learn during your time at St Fagans? 

I learned team working skills and learned about the museum itself. Communication with the Museum Assistants. If I was ever unsure what to say to visitors, I would get advice from the Museum Assistants. Speaking to Bryn (a member of staff at St Fagans) was very insightful into the history. 


What did you enjoy about your experience? 


For example, I bought some bread from the bakery and my parents and brother were delighted.

For me I just felt more relaxed and that I’m at home here. I was introduced to lots of Museum Assistants, they were very interesting, chatty, friendly, and endearing. 


A big thank you to Harri for chatting to us about his time at St Fagans. He has now been successfully recruited as a pool staff member for the shop at St Fagans - so a big congratulations! 


Summary of an archaeology work placement, 2022-23

David Hughes (Student Work Placement), 13 November 2023

There is often some competition from people interested in archaeology to participate in Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales’ student work placements, and I was delighted to secure a placement to help the museum assess and catalogue human remains. 

Joining a small group of individuals on placement, some of whom are students from Cardiff’s Archaeological Science course, we worked alongside the Curator to assess skeletons from the early medieval cemetery at Llandough, near Cardiff.  The excavations in the early 1990s produced in excess of a thousand skeletons, which have remained in Amgueddfa Cymru’s archive awaiting full examination. 

We learnt how the skeletons must be stored and handled in accordance with ethical standards for dealing with human remains.  Each skeleton is individually assessed for completeness, and sometimes it is possible to identify the sex and observe evidence of age and disease.  This information is recorded for entry into the Amgueddfa Cymru catalogue and will be useful in future research of human remains and the Llandough site, and contribute to the study of medieval archaeology more generally. 

Examining human remains provokes reflection on the lives of medieval people and, whilst it may not be for everyone, it does bring us closer to the past in a special way.  The work placement was an excellent learning experience.  The Curator, Adelle was very patient with all the questions raised by the student placements and generous in sharing her knowledge and skills.  It is a great way for Amgueddfa Cymru to engage with the public, and I am grateful for the opportunity to see behind the scenes and contribute to the work of the museum.  I hope Amgueddfa Cymru will continue to offer such opportunities for those who would like to get involved.


For more information on work placements for students, visit the 'Get Involved' pages of the website. It is possible to sign up to a mailing list to hear about any placements when they are advertised.

Ongoing gardening project at Ysgubor Fawr, St. Fagans

Zoe Mouti, Innovate Trust, 30 October 2023

The Secret Garden is a horticulture and history project funded by the WCVA’s Volunteering Wales Grant. We work with adults with Learning Disabilities and community volunteers to develop and care for a cottage garden based at St Fagans National Museum of History. We also support project participants in researching the history of the garden, Ysgubor Fawr cottage on-site, and its past inhabitants using St Fagans’ archives and Glamorgan Archives.

The Secret Garden project has two themes. It is both a gardening and historical research project. We offer the opportunity to take part in hands-on gardening sessions at our garden at Saint Fagans to learn about and trial gardening techniques from the past, such as planting for medicinal or cleaning purposes. Participants will also research the garden, the cottage and its inhabitants in partnership with St Fagans National Museum of History and Glamorgan Archives.

Participants who attend the Secret Garden Project are able to learn a variety of skills including teamwork, communication, co-ordination and much more to help assist and support them in their personal development. A safe and secure working environment ensures that participants are able to learn at their own pace whether they are learning about horticulture or history. The Secret Garden Project is able to cater for their needs and have a positive impact on their health and well-being.  

Our activities are free of charge, and we encourage anyone to join. Participants can take part in either the gardening or history element or both if they wish! 

Head to the Innovate Trust website to learn more about the Secret Garden, and how you can get involved - The Secret Garden | Innovate Trust (innovate-trust.org.uk).

Art in Hospitals

Sara Treble-Parry with Carys Tudor and Stephanie Roberts, 22 September 2023

As the COVID-19 pandemic worsened over the winter of 2020, and the pressure on NHS staff increased, Amgueddfa Cymru wanted to use the national art collection in hospitals and care settings to provide solace for staff and patients.

Like many others, we watched in awe – and horror - as NHS staff made personal sacrifices day after day under unthinkable circumstances. We realise that we have seen only a fraction of what goes on behind-the-scenes, and asked ourselves what can we, as a museum, do to help?

As part of Celf ar y Cyd - a suite of projects launched in 2020  designed to find new ways for people to experience the art collection during the pandemic - we set out to work with health boards across Wales.

We wanted to give NHS and care staff the chance to make art part of their working day, and to decide for themselves how art can be incorporated into their work environment.

Since 2020, we’ve worked closely with health boards to continue this work that began from the pressures caused by the pandemic. We are delighted to launch the Palliative Care Packs, developed closely with Powys Teaching Health Board.


How are we working with Powys Teaching Health Board?

Powys Palliative Care packs are being developed to offer additional support to Powys Teaching Health Board’s palliative care teams.  These packs have been designed in partnership with staff at Powys Teaching Health Board and feature images of artworks from our collection, as well as digital resources, from audio descriptions to soundscapes. We hope that they will provide a compassionate, creative experience for patients, while also presenting opportunities for emotional support through conversation and sharing with friends, family members and carers.

We at Amgueddfa Cymru want to share the national art collection with as many people as possible, offering the opportunity to use our collections in ways that feel appropriate for all. Using Amgueddfa Cymru’s art collections to console and inspire has been our focus in working with Powys Teaching Health Board.


Funding and support

Amgueddfa Cymru support was made possible through Celf ar y Cyd. This started as a series of visual arts projects in collaboration with Arts Council Wales with the support of the Welsh Government, which challenged us to share the national art collection in new and innovative ways during the pandemic. The other strands include our digital visual arts magazine, Cynfas, and the 100 Celf – Art 100 exhibition. The Celf ar y Cyd website launched in June 2023, and offers the opportunity to browse, learn and be inspired by the contemporary art collection from the comfort of your own phone. Follow us on Instagram @celfarycyd for more.