Amgueddfa Blog: General

We have had fantastic entries from all areas of Wales & beyond! The standard is truly incredible! Visiting these virtual museums has been great fun and an incredible honour! Many thanks to everyone who took part in the Minecraft Your Museum Competition! 

We hope you enjoyed taking part as much as we enjoyed visiting your Museum! 

The video below shows entries from all our participants and highlights the winning entries.

Congratulations to everyone who took part in this (woolly) mammoth of a challenge!

This competition shines a light on the talented young 'crafters' we have in Wales! They have created the most beautiful Museums and wonderful collections. They also thought of everything a visitor might need from cafes, to play areas, shows and of course toilet facilities. They are digital architects, curators and Museums managers all rolled into one! The digital skills they have used in both creating and presenting is something to shout about! Digital Literacy being a cross-curricular theme in Wales is really paying off. 

We are delighted to announce that the People's Collection Wales will be creating a collection of all the entries so others too can appreciate the amazing museums created. Once we have permission from participants,we will update this blog with links. People’s Collection Wales is a National digital collection that gathers history from the People of Wales.

We are delighted to announce that the Minecraft Your Museum competition has been shortlisted for the Family Friendly Museum Award From Home. 

The Winners:

1st place: Prize VIP trip for your class to your chosen museum (when safe to do so). Plus two reserved tickets for the Museum Sleepover - Dino nights at home & certificates.

Year 2 - Thomas Denney
Year 3 - Carys Lee
Year 4 - Gwilym Davies-Kabir
Year 5 - Osian Jones
Year 6 - Caitlin Quinn & Lucy Flint
Group category: Marc, Zach and Matthew Chatfield.

2nd place: Two reserved tickets for the Museum Sleepover - Dino nights at home & certificates!

Year 2 - Monty Foster
Year 3 - Nico Poulton
Year 4 - Luca Dacre
Year 5 - Chloe Hayes
Year 6 - Bethan Silk
Group category - Emily Jones and Daisy Slater

3rd place: Two reserved tickets for the Museum Sleepover - Dino nights at home & certificates!

Year 2 - Meilyr Frost
Year 4 - Arwen Silk
Year 5 - Zach Waterhouse
Year 6 - Evie Hayden
Group category - Theo Harrison, Thomas Sommer, William Howard-Rees 

Highly commended: One reserved ticket for the Museum Sleepover - Dino nights at home & certificates!

Year 2 - Mali Smith
Year 4 - Oliver Jarman
Year 5 - Ffion Ball
Year 5 - Zac Davis
Year 6 - Scarlett Foster
Year 7 - Wren Ashcroft 
Group category - Bella Hepburn and Phoebe Wilson
Group categroy - Gwen Fishpool, Ethan Coombs and Sofia Mahapatra

To be awarded Minecraft Your Museum certificates for completing the challenge!

Rita Jones
Thomas Silk
Elliott Thompson
Entry 1 (Gelli Primary)
Entry 2 (Gelli Primary)
Entry 3 (Gelli Primary)
Entry 4 (Gelli Primary)
Alis Jones
Andrew Poulton
Cari Hicks
Elyan Garnault
Ethan Beddow
Evan Hicks
Greta Wyn Jones
Joshua Akehurst
Jude Clarke
Matilda Turner
Ronan Peake
Tomos Dacey
Zac Jonathan
Cally Sinclair
Chris Jones
David Hughes
Durocksha Eshanzadeh
Eifion Humphreys
Emilia Slater
Emily Akehurst
Freya Powell
Harriet Heskins
Henry Lansom
Holly Wyatt
Ioan Davies
Isaac Smith
Jessica Thomas
Kayden Matthews
Lewis Hopkins
Macy Jo Tolley
Maisie Boyce
Mia Livingstone
Noah Pearsall
Oliver Reeves
Peyton Creed
Phoebe Skinner-Quinn
Rufus Huckfield
Sam Cowell
Sam Rees 
Sophie Vickers
Sumaiyah Ahmed
Tomos Pritchard
Will Heskins
Zoe Murfin
Abhay Prabhakar
Alexander Newman
Angharad Thomas
Floyd Thomas
Gwydion Frost
Morgan Trehearne
Rhys Tinsley
Ziggy Dyboski-Bryant
Ben Fox-Morgan
Emilia Johns
Trixx Flixx
Dylan, Rhiannon, William Bringhurst Dylan, Rhiannon & William 
Ellouise Grace James Matthews 
Pippa and Monty Walker
Daniel Brenan & Micah Bartlett
Chloe and Grace Chamberlain

 

The Competition

Competition for 6-11 year olds.

The Challenge: Use your imagination to build your dream museum in Minecraft. Decide how you would like the building to look and fill it with some of your favourite Museum objects. They could be anything from any of our seven museums, such as a Dinosaur, a Roman coin or a house from St Fagans!

Prizes: Win a VIP trip for you & your whole class to your chosen museum - when schools re-open!  A prize will be awarded to each year group (Yrs. 2-6).

A Day in the Life of a Natural History Curator

My name is Jennifer Gallichan and I am one of the natural history curators at National Museum Cardiff. I care for the Mollusc (i.e. snails, slugs, mussels, and octopus) and Vertebrate (things with backbones) collections. Just like everybody else, museum curators are adapting to working from home. But what did we use to do on a 'normal' day, before the days of lockdown?

Caring for the National Collections

Most of our specimens are not on display. Amgueddfa Cymru holds 3.5 million natural history specimens and the majority are held behind the scenes in stores. Caring for the collections is an important part of our role as curators. We have to meticulously catalogue the specimens to ensure that all of the specimens are accounted for. As you can imagine, finding one object amongst 3.5 million could take a while.

Harriet Wood (Curator: Mollusca) in the collections

Natural history collections cover a whole range of materials including shells, dried plants, minerals, fossils, stuffed animals, bones, pinned insects and fluid preserved specimens (this includes things in jars).

Cephalopod specimens from the William Evans Hoyle collection

These collections are vital for research, education, exhibitions and display. Some have been in the museum for well over a century, and it is our role to ensure they last into the next century and beyond. We work with specially trained Conservators to monitor the collections and highlight anything that might be at risk, needs cleaning or repair.

Cleaning the skeleton of one of Cardiff famous residents, Billy the Seal

Answering your Questions

We spend a lot of time working with you, our fantastic visitors. Much of our time is spent answering the thousands of enquiries we receive every year from families, school children, amateur scientists, academics of all kinds, journalists and many more. We also host open days and national events throughout the year which are another great opportunity to share the collections. Many of us are STEM (Science, Technology Engineering & Mathematics) ambassadors, so an important part of our role inspiring and engaging the next generation of scientists.

Talking about the collections at the Eisteddfod

Working with Volunteers

Our museums are crammed full of fascinating objects and interesting projects to inspire and enjoy. We spend a lot of time with our excellent volunteers, helping them to catalogue and conserve the collections, guiding them through the often intricate and tricky jobs that it has taken us decades to perfect.

Our fantastic volunteers currently working on transcribing letters from the Tomlin archive of correspondence

Working with Other Museums

Museums across the world are connected by a huge network of curators. We oversee loans of specimens to all parts of the globe so that we can share and learn from each other’s collections. We have to be ready to deal with all manner of tricky scenarios such as organising safe transport of a scientifically valuable shell, or packing up and transporting a full sized Bison for exhibition.

A meeting of mollusc curators as part of a research project at the Natural History Museum, London

Working with Visitors

Despite the fact that a large part of the collections are behind the scenes, they are open to visitors. Researchers from across the globe come to access our fantastic collections to help with their studies. We also host tours of the collections on request.

Working with visitors in the collection, examining Sawfish rostra

Making Collections Bigger and Better

Despite having millions of specimens, museum collections are not static and continue to grow every year. Be it an old egg collection found in an attic, or a prize sawfish bill that has been in the family for generations, it’s an important part of a curator’s job to inspect and assess each and every object that we are offered. Is it a scientifically important collection or rare? Has it been collected legally? Do we know where and when it was collected? Is it in a good condition? Do we have the space?

Bryn, our Sumatran Tiger was donated to us in 2017 from Colwyn Bay Mountain Zoo

Creating New Exhibitions

A fun part of the job is working with our brilliant Exhibitions department to develop and install new exhibitions. We want museums to be exciting and inspiring places for everyone so we spend a lot of time making sure that the information and specimens we exhibit are fun, engaging, inspiring and thought provoking.

Adding specimens to a specially created exhibit called Museum in a House, for Made in Roath festival, 2015

Being Scientists

Last but definitely not least, when we aren’t doing all of the above, we are doing actual science. Museums are places of learning for visitors and staff alike. Many of us are experts in our field and undertake internationally-recognised research. This research might find us observing or collecting specimens out in the field, sorting and identifying back in the lab, describing new species or researching the millions of specimens already in the collections.

Kate Mortimer-Jones (Senior Curator: Marine Invertebrates) hard at work identifying marine worms

Museums from Home?

Despite lockdown, we are working hard to keep the collections accessible. We’re answering queries, engaging with people online, writing research papers and chipping away at collection jobs from home. And like all of you, we are very much looking forward to when the museum opens its doors once again.

If you want to find out more about the things we get up to in the museum, why not check us out on Twitter or follow our blog? You can also find out more about all of the members of the Natural Sciences department here.

Produce and flower gardens were a mainstay of Miner's homes. An important place where food was grown, where pidgeons, chickens and often a pig was also kept. Sharon Ford is Learning and Participation Manager at Big Pit National Coal Museum. She wrote this article for our blog, in celebration of the health and wellbeing benefits of gardening - particularly during this lockdown. Its full of gardening joy and helpful hints and tips, and Sharon had more than a little help from a fellow keen gardener - her son, Iwan.

‘We may think we are nurturing our garden, but of course it's our garden that is really nurturing us’   

Jenny Uglow

I’ve never been so grateful to have a garden as I do at the moment, because it offers a space to inhabit beyond the four walls of the house. The fact that the weather has been so consistently good has enabled us to make the most of being outdoors when not working, to get out of each other’s way when we need a bit of solitary time, and of course catch up on all the garden tasks which are usually shoe horned into evenings and weekends. Having something to plan and focus on has been really helpful in taking our minds away from the current global crisis and the fact that we are away from friends and family. Even our energetic 8 year old son Iwan has been more engaged with the outdoors so far this year, planning which vegetables he wants to harvest and eat in a few months time, and the fresh air and activity tires him out at the end of the day. This is important as he is missing his usual swimming, gymnastics and rugby sessions.

The benefits of gardening on physical and mental health are well-researched and widely known, and it can help with a range of physical conditions such as high blood pressure and anxiety, as well as helping those with more defined mental health problems.

Not everyone is as lucky as we are to have a garden at home and an allotment just across the road, but keeping pots or planters of vegetables in small spaces can also help reduce stress and boost self-esteem. Tending for house plants has also been proven to give a sense of purpose, and can be a good place to start for those with no previous experience of gardening.

Anyway, I asked Iwan of he wanted to share his top tips for growing and tending, as he’s a seasoned gardener with four years experience now. He also wanted to share his tips for keeping chickens, just in case anyone is thinking of getting chickens to keep them happy! By the way, the therapeutic benefits of chicken keeping are also well documented!

My name is Iwan Ford. I am 8 years old and live in Blaenavon. During the lockdown, I spend all my time at home with Mam and Dad. It is ok but I miss my friends and cousins. We are very lucky because we have two gardens and two chickens. My chickens are called Barbara and Millie. I had another chicken who was called Penny, but she died a few weeks ago because she was poorly. We buried her in the garden.

Someone gave Millie to us when they heard Barbara was on her own. She is a Silkie, and is very funny and clumsy. She has big feet and walks on and into everything. Sometimes she kicks the food over and sometimes she walks over Barbara. She is very friendly and follows me around the garden. Silkies have blue ears and furry feathers. Barbara is a small bantam and has very beautiful feathers. She had orange feathers around her neck. She lays very small eggs but they are yummy and have very yellow yolks. You can tell they are happy chickens.

I do some gardening to help Mam and Dad because we have an allotment as well as our house garden. I like planting, watering and picking the vegetables and fruit when they grow. I have my own vegetable patch and have planted my French beans, pumpkin, marrow and kidney bean seeds already. Seeds need good soil with compost mixed in, sunshine and water. You have to remember to water a lot or they will not grow.

Iwan’s Top Tips:

Planting tips:

  • Fill the plant pots with compost. Put your seed in. Sometimes you half fill the pot with compost then the seed then more compost. Sometimes you fill the pot then make a hole with your finger and put the seed in. Make sure you water them, and they will grow in a few weeks. When they have grown big enough and no more frost is coming, you put the plants out into the ground.
  • If you haven’t got a garden you can grow potatoes in buckets or bags of compost if you cut the top. Tomatoes will grow like this as well.
  • Always write the names of what you are planting on tags or lolly sticks and put into the pots so you know which is which.

Chicken tips:

  • Silkie chickens don’t like to wander as they can’t fly, so if you only have a small garden silkies are the best.
  • Chicken poos are good for making compost. When this is ready you can dig it into the soil to make your plants come up big and strong.
  • Chickens love meal worms as a little treat. We give some to the chickens and put some out for the garden birds as well. ‘Beaky and Feather’ is the chickens favourite food and makes their feathers shine.

 

While The National Waterfront Museum’s GRAFT team and volunteers cannot gather to garden the Museum’s courtyard garden at this time, they are nonetheless keeping busy setting up ‘Seeds Out in the Community’ and encouraging us all to grow sunflowers in visible and public spaces to show support for key workers. Here’s a little more about this innovative community project and how it’s grown from a seed of an idea to a flourishing project that grows plants, food and people.

GRAFT: a soil based syllabus is the National Waterfront Museum's edible land and educational project, and a permanent piece of green infrastructure within Swansea City Centre. The project is also a socially engaged work of art by artist Owen Griffiths, and was originally commissioned as part of Now the Hero / Nawr Yr Arwr in 2018 funded by 1418NOW as part of a huge UK wide cultural project commemorating the first World War.

GRAFT works with community groups from a wide range of backgrounds across the city who came together, to transform the Museum's once industrial courtyard into a beautiful, sustainable, organic growing environment; creating an edible landscape to encourage participation and conversation around land use, food and sustainability in an accessible and empowering way.

Owen and Senior Learning Officer Zoe Gealy develop the ongoing program at GRAFT around these ideas of collaboration, sustainability and community. Every Friday, (other than during this lockdown), volunteers young and old work alongside one another to share skills working in wood and metal, learning how to grow plants, gaining qualifications and supporting each other along the way. The project has seen successful apprenticeships develop as a result of its program as well as seeing the long-term mental health benefits of working outside together. New friendships are formed, and people, as well as plants, flourish. During GRAFT’s development, in addition to raised beds, a pergola and benches from local timber, a cob pizza oven and beehives have been introduced to the garden. GRAFT's youngest volunteers come from Cefn Saeson School in Neath and work with Alyson Williams, the resident Beekeeper, learning about biodiversity, the environment and working together to care for the bees.

Some of the produce grown in the garden usually makes its way into delicious meals at the Museum's café whilst some is used for community meals at GRAFT. A portion of produce is used by volunteers, and some is donated to projects and groups throughout the area who provide food for those in need, such as Matts House, Ogof Adullam and the Swansea refugee drop in centre.

SPREADING SEEDS AND SUNSHINE DURING LOCKDOWN

Over the coming weeks GRAFT will be posting seeds through City and County of Swansea’s food parcel scheme and to community groups they regularly work with such as Roots Foundation and CRISIS. The seeds include squash and sunflowers, which were harvested by the gardeners last season.

Another initiative GRAFT is developing in the coming weeks is encouraging people to plant sunflowers in visible and public spaces, to show support for key workers alongside rainbow paintings. People are also invited to post pictures of their successful growing on GRAFT’s social media pages.

To request seeds contact zoe.gealy@museumwales.ac.uk

07810 657170

During lock-down, the GRAFT garden continues to need some tending and so  The National Waterfront Museum's on-site team are watering the GRAFT garden and seedlings during their daily shifts.

With thanks to players of the People’s Postcode Lottery for supporting Amgueddfa Cymru’s public programme of activities and events.

FOLLOW GRAFT:

www.facebook.com/graft.a.soil.based.syllabus

INSTAGRAM: Graft____

We may be in lockdown, but nature continues to thrive, plants continue to need tending and borders weeding. Just as the nation is tending to its gardens, so are the Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales Historic Gardens Unit team, albeit at a reduced working schedule. Here, Juliet Hodgkiss who maintains St Fagans’ beautiful and varied gardens shares a little about what’s going on there.

To keep safe and maintain distance during the pandemic, each of our team are working one day a week to do essential gardening.  With only one gardener in at any one time we are in total isolation, keeping both ourselves and others safe.  One of the most important jobs we have to do is the planting and maintenance of our collection of heritage potato varieties. These potatoes were donated to the Museum over twenty years ago by the Scottish Agricultural Science Agency. As a living object, these potatoes must be grown every year to produce seed potato for the following year. Our collection includes the Lumper, the potato grown at the time of the Irish potato famine, which we grow in Nant Wallter and Rhyd-y-car gardens. We also grow Yam, Myatt’s Ashleaf, Skerry Blue and Fortyfold, all varieties from the 18th and 19th century.

This winter we had a great time planting many new trees in the Gardens, to replace lost trees, add new interest for the visitors and for attracting wildlife. We’ve added four new mulberry trees to the Mulberry Lawn, several species of hawthorn, rowan trees and Berberis shrubs to the terrace banks, three whitebeam, a katsura tree, a snakebark maple and a snowy mespilus by the ponds, crab apples to the Castle Orchard and a variety of native species for future coppicing. While we’re enjoying the warm, dry spring, it does mean that all these new trees need a lot of watering to keep them alive. Many are planted a long distance from the nearest tap, so have to be watered with watering cans.

We are also keeping the plants in our greenhouses and nursery alive. We have many plants which are either rare or unique to St Fagans.  These include two offspring of our fern-leaved beech and seedlings from a pine which was lost in a storm a few years ago. These require daily watering this time of year. Spring is the time of year we replant our beds and borders, filling the gaps left by plants lost over winter. We didn’t get around to planting all the plants we ordered over the winter months before the lockdown, so we’re keeping these plants alive while trying to get as many as possible in the ground, with our greatly reduced staff.