Amgueddfa Blog: General

Skull of Dippy the dinosaur

Hi folks, Dippy here!

I’ve been having a wonderful time at National Museum Cardiff, everyone is so friendly and I have been the centre of attention at some very exciting events. With far too many stories to fit into one blog, here are my top five highlights from my time spent in Cardiff.

 

1) Dysgu Cymraeg | Learning Welsh

I arrived in Cardiff an absolute beginner, but thanks to the lovely Museum staff I quickly picked up the language. With plenty of opportunities to practice my Welsh with visitors, I have been writing bilingual tweets from my account @DippyOnTour.

2) Dippy-Themed Events

When I heard I would be sharing the grand hall with events such as silent discos and yoga I was worried I might get in the way. In fact I have become the star of the show and even attended my first Welsh wedding!

 

The happy couple

The happy couple

© Sadie Osborne Photography, sadie-osborne.squarespace.com

                                                                                                    

3) Exploring Nature

My mission on this UK tour is to encourage people to explore nature on their doorstep. That’s not a difficult task in Cardiff, which boasts more green space per person than any other major UK city. I have had a marvellous time discovering new parks every day! Check out my website for tips on exploring nature in your local area.

4) My New Friend

I didn’t know there were other dinosaurs in Wales, but I was soon introduced to Dracoraptor, a dinosaur discovered only a few miles away from Cardiff. At first I was jealous of Dracoraptor’s rather interesting name, which means ‘dragon thief’. However, once we got to know each other we quickly became friends.

Model of Dracoraptor

Model of Dracoraptor

© Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales

5) YOU!

By far the best thing about being in Cardiff has been all the amazing people I have met. I’m here until 26 January so please keep visiting and sharing your selfies using #DippyArDaith and #DippyOnTour.

Crowds around Dippy the dinosaur

 

“Lewis! Don’t touch anything and keep quiet!”

Those were the words of my history teacher, Mr Davies, as the bus from Cynffig Comprehensive School pulled up outside National Museum Cardiff in the autumn of 1966.

Fifty three years later, and since my appointment as President Amgueddfa Cymru earlier this year, I have heeded Mr Davies’s advice, as I have spent my time meeting and listening to the wonderful teams of people, staff and volunteers, around our eight sites, and hearing from our trustees, patrons, sponsors, government ministers and civil servants and to some of the millions of our visitors.

The overwhelming impact made upon me over these past six months is one of extraordinary passion and dedication to the work of Amgueddfa Cymru by everyone I have met. And everyone, quite rightly, is so proud of the remarkable achievements of Amgueddfa Cymru, especially with St Fagans matching the 2005 success of Big Pit by winning the Museum of the Year 2019 Award.

Nearly 1.9 million people visited our seven museums in the Amgueddfa Cymru family in this past year. Without doubt our national museums truly belong to the people of Wales, and thanks to the Welsh Government they are all free to visit.

Moreover, the support of our patrons, foundations and sponsors has allowed us to create a rich mix of events and exhibitions and to purchase a wide range of wonderous new things to display.

We are totally committed to the principles of cultural democracy and social inclusion which enables us as to engage with as many people as we possibly can from each and every corner of Wales. Working in partnership with as many diverse communities as possible, particularly those who are disadvantaged, to make a positive difference to the wellbeing of Wales and to secure our future for generations to come, underpinned by robust and considered research is our compass.

Our commitment to play our part in addressing the climate change emergency, based upon our special scientific insight, is critical to us all. And our horizons stretch beyond Wales. We are determined to make a dynamic contribution to Wales across the world, playing our part in creating a prosperous country for all.

As someone who is a beneficiary of Wales’s post-war vision of education being a right, not a privilege, and a son of parents who both left school at fourteen years of age, Amgueddfa Cymru’s commitment to learning is simply breath taking. Over two hundred thousand school children and students visited our museums in 2018/19. We are the largest learning provider outside of the classroom in Wales – this is outstanding.

Without doubt, Mr Davies would be mightily impressed with Amgueddfa Cymru today, and with our goal to remove as many barriers as possible, so that even more people immerse themselves in our inspirational galleries and spaces which ignite the imagination, it is creativity which will touch the hearts and minds of all.

We are now embarking on a 10-year plan to take our museums to even greater heights, welcome even more visitors, involve even more people, and be bold in our ambition to inspire people and change lives. Our desire to celebrate the very best of Welsh endeavour across a spectrum of disciplines inspires us all! I look forward to seeing what the new decade brings to Amgueddfa Cymru.

Merry Christmas and a happy and peaceful new year to you all!

Roger Lewis

President, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales

 

One of the things I love about working at National Museum Cardiff (apart from the wonderful collections and exhibitions of course!) is taking a wander in the Museum gift shop. At the moment I am spoilt for choice as there is an extra shop for the Dippy exhibition filled with dino delights!

I’ve had a look at the goodies on offer at the moment, so sit back, relax and enjoy my top seven gift ideas.

 

1) Meet the Artists 3D Paper Folding Figures (£8.50)

 

These are so cute and fun, what an interesting stocking filler!

It’s the gift that keeps on giving as you have the fun of crafting your own mini artist and then can enjoy your handiwork.

 

 

 

 

 

2) Dippy: the tale of a museum icon (£6.99)

 

 

A really interesting little book, perfect for any dinosaur fan!

https://museum.wales/shop/item/3397/Dippy-the-tale-of-a-museum-icon/

 

 

 

 

3) Materia Rica Flower Necklace and Earrings (£28 and £20)

 

 

This earring and necklace set caught my eye because I’ve never seen anything like it.

I love the floral theme and the colours really stand out.

 

 

 

 

4) Fruits of Nature Original Remedies Bath Essence (£14.99)

 

A bath is the perfect way to relax after a busy day and to keep warm in this cold weather.

Whether you’d like to treat yourself or a friend, you can’t go wrong with a bit of bubble bath!

 

 

 

 

 

5) T-Rex Travel Mug (£8.99)

 

 

Do your bit for the environment and give the gift of this eco-friendly dinosaur-themed travel mug.

https://museum.wales/shop/item/3372/T-Rex-Travel-Mug/

 

 

 

 

 

 

6) Make Your Own Pteranodon (£12.99)

 

 

Another crafty option for someone creative, you get to assemble this fun automaton and can paint it any colour you like!

https://museum.wales/shop/item/3371/Make-Your-Own-Pteranodon-Wooden-Automata-Series-/

 

 

 

 

7) Special Edition ‘Martin Parr in Wales’ Set (£300)

Bear with me, but if you have a little money to spare this is a fantastic gift for someone who loves photography! This is a unique opportunity to own a signed, limited edition print by one of the most influential photographers around - snap this up before they sell out! 

https://museum.wales/shop/item/3391/Martin-Parr-in-Wales---Special-edition/

And if you love the idea but don’t have as much spare, you can pick up the book ‘Martin Parr in Wales’ for just £19.99: https://museum.wales/shop/item/3367/Martin-Parr-in-Wales/

 

 

So that’s my top seven from National Museum Cardiff, though there are many more gift ideas to be found in our shops across Amguedddfa Cymru. Please do check out our online shop too: https://museum.wales/shop/

Nadolig Llawen! | Merry Christmas!

Hello humans! Uri Guide Dog here. I haven't written my dog blog for some time but that does not mean I haven't been visiting my favourite museums. In fact I have been to several special exhibitions at National Museum Cardiff.

One of them was full of live snakes in glass cages as well as skeletons and pieces of art from the museum's collection. Mum got a chance to take part in a special audio described handling session with the live snakes – yikes – but I took the opportunity to take one of the lovely members of staff for a little walk around the block and a bit of fresh air. Apparently the snakes wrapped themselves around mum’s arms and I don't think that was very sensible, but I’m glad I wasn’t there to see it!

We also attended the David Nash exhibition which was very interesting, particularly seeing the humans using some very doggy techniques when investigating the large chunks of wood scattered all around the large rooms. The group had special permission from the artist to touch some of the sculptures but they also stooped and sniffed as the wood all had different smells. I was a bit confused why there appeared to be full-size trees in the middle of the museum! Mum kept me well away in case I mistook them for indoor dog facilities.

We have visited St Fagans a couple of times too, including a tour of the farm and the animals. We saw some sheep being sheared which didn't look very comfortable to be honest, and I was a bit wary when mum tried to pet a cow.

I am looking forward to the next Audio Description tour on 12 December when we get to officially meet Dippy the dinosaur!

For more information on Audio Description tours at National Museum Cardiff, call (029) 2057 3240.

2019 is the 150th anniversary of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements (see UNESCO https://www.iypt2019.org/). The "International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements (IYPT2019)" is an opportunity to reflect upon many aspects of the periodic table, including the social and economic impacts of chemical elements.

Sulphur is the fifth most common element (by mass) on Earth and one of the most widely used chemical substances. But sulphur is common beyond Earth: the innermost of the four Galilean moons of the planet Jupiter, Io, has more than 400 active volcanoes which deposit lava so rich in sulphur that its surface is actually yellow.

Alchemy

The sulphate salts of iron, copper and aluminium were referred to as “vitriols”, which occurred in lists of minerals compiled by the Sumerians 4,000 years ago. Sulfuric acid was known as “oil of vitriol”, a term coined by the 8th-century Arabian alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan. Burning sulphur used to be referred to as “brimstone”, giving rise to the biblical notion that hell apparently smelled of sulphur.

Mineralogy

Sulphur rarely occurs in its pure form but usually as sulphide and sulphate minerals. Elemental sulphur can be found near hot springs, hydrothermal vents and in volcanic regions where it may be mined, but the major industrial source of sulphur is the iron sulphide mineral pyrite. Other important sulphur minerals include cinnabar (mercury sulphide), galena (lead sulphide), sphalerite (zinc sulphide), stibnite (antimony sulphide), gypsum (calcium sulphate), alunite (potassium aluminium sulphate), and barite (barium sulphate). Accordingly, the Mindat (a wonderful database for all things mineral) entry for sulphur is rather extensive: https://www.mindat.org/min-3826.html.

Chemistry

Sulphur is the basic constituent of sulfuric acid, referred as universal chemical, ‘King of Chemicals’ due to the numerous applications as a raw material or processing agent. Sulfuric acid is the most commonly used chemical in the world and used in almost all industries; its multiple industrial uses include the refining of crude oil and as an electrolyte in lead acid batteries. World production of sulfuric acid stands at more than 230 million tonnes per year.

Warfare

Gunpowder, a mixture of sulphur, charcoal and potassium nitrate invented in 9th century China, is the earliest known explosive. Chinese military engineers realised the obvious potential of gunpowder and by 904 CE were hurling lumps of burning gunpowder with catapults during a siege. In chemical warfare, 2,400 years ago, the Spartans used sulphur fumes against enemy soldiers. Sulphur is an important component of mustard gas, used since WWI as an incapacitating agent.

Pharmacy

Sulphur-based compounds have a huge range of therapeutic applications, such as antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antidiabetic, antimalarial, anticancer and other medicinal agents. Many drugs contain sulphur; early examples include antibacterial sulphonamides, known as “sulfa drugs”. Sulphur is a part of many antibiotics, including the penicillins, cephalosporins and monolactams.

Biology

Sulphur is an essential element for life. Some amino acids (cysteine and methionine; amino acids are the structural components of proteins) and vitamins (biotin and thiamine) are organosulfur compounds. Disulphides (sulphur–sulphur bonds) confer mechanical strength and insolubility of the protein keratin (found in skin, hair, and feathers). Many sulphur compounds have a strong smell: the scent of grapefruit and garlic are due to organosulfur compounds. The gas hydrogen sulphide gives the characteristic odour to rotting eggs.

Farming

Sulphur is one of the essential nutrients for crop growth. Sulphur is important to help with nutrient uptake, chlorophyll production and seed development. Hence, one of the greatest commercial uses of sulfuric acid is for fertilizers. About 60% of pyrite mined for sulphur is used for fertilizer manufacture – you could say that the mineral pyrite literally feeds the world.

Environment

Use of sulphur is not without problems: burning sulphur-containing coal and oil generates sulphur dioxide, which reacts with water in the atmosphere to form sulfuric acid, one of the main causes of acid rain, which acidifies lakes and soil, and causes weathering to buildings and structures. Acid mine drainage, a consequence of pyrite oxidation during mining operations, is a real and large environmental problem, killing much life in many rivers across the world. Recently, the use of a calcareous mudstone rock containing a high proportion of pyrite as backfill for housing estates in the area around Dublin caused damage to many houses when the pyrite oxidised; the case was eventually resolved with the “Pyrite Resolution Act 2013” allocating compensation to house owners.

Conservation of museum specimens

Because iron sulphides are highly reactive minerals, their conservation in museum collections poses significant challenges. Because we care for our collections, which involves constantly improving conservation practice, we are always researching novel ways of protecting vulnerable minerals. Our current project, jointly with University of Oxford, is undertaken by our doctoral research student Kathryn Royce https://www.geog.ox.ac.uk/graduate/research/kroyce.html.

Come and see us!

If all this has wetted your appetite for chemistry and minerals, come and see the sulphur and pyrite specimens we display at National Museum Cardiff https://museum.wales/cardiff/, or learn about mining and related industries at Big Pit National Coal Museum https://museum.wales/bigpit/ and National Slate Museum https://museum.wales/slate/.