Amgueddfa Blog: Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales

Accidents happen: we drop our favourite coffee cup in the kitchen and it shatters into a million pieces; parking the car, we misjudge the distance to that bollard and, oops, scratch the car; the faulty television overheats and catches fire. We usually try to protect ourselves against such accidents by assessing the risk, and mitigate against risk to help us avoid accidents. We install smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and emergency stairs to help us get out of a burning building should the worst happen.

Our immediate thought in the event of a disaster is, quite rightly, the preservation of life. But objects that mean something to us are often a victim of disasters, too. This may be the family photographs getting lost in a house fire. Or it could be an entire historic building, which is important to the local or even national history. The very recent fire at Clandon Park House in April 2015 illustrates how quickly an important part of British social and parliamentary history can be destroyed (the Onslow family, whose estates this was, provided three speakers to the House of Commons over the centuries).

What if heritage is destroyed not by accident, but entirely purposefully? In 2013, a construction company in Belize destroyed a Maya pyramid to turn it into gravel for road fill. The pyramid was 2,300 year old – millennia of heritage, memory and civilisation were destroyed, incredibly, because the ancient structure provided a cheap and easy source of building material.

At other times, heritage – monuments, buildings, statues, or even individual objects – are the target of anger. In post-communist Eastern Europe, statues of Stalin or Lenin are being removed as symbols of power of a by-gone era. Palmyra, the prosperous Assyrian city in today’s Syria, has temples 2,200 years old, was first destroyed by the Romans in 273 AD, by the Timurids in 1400, and is now threatened once again with becoming a casualty of war and ideologies.

Whether you agree with the symbols and ideologies of the people who came before you, our own being is born from previous historic events. Our music, stories, architecture, even our state of government would be nothing without the histories that led up to them. To make sense of our modern world we need to remember – remember positive events for the good they are, and negative events so we can avoid dark hours of history repeating themselves. Ultimately, the past informs our present.

In this project, funded by Cardiff University Engagement Seed Funding, we explore the effect of armed conflict on stone surfaces, emergency planning and heritage salvage, strategies for post-conflict remediation, and construction of memories of WWI or post-communist Eastern Europe.

Dr Lisa Mol (Early Career Lecturer, Cardiff University, School of Earth and Ocean Sciences) works on the impact of armed warfare on stone surfaces, which links to heritage conservation and long-term strategies for post-conflict remediation. Lisa asks people to shoot with guns at pieces of building stone to study what happens on impact.

Building on his recently published monograph on the construction of memory of the First World War, and on sites of memory in Eastern Europe, Dr Toby Thacker (Senior Lecturer in Modern European History, Cardiff University, School of History, Archaeology and Religion) will cover the contested role of damaged historical sites in the construction of memory.

Dr Christian Baars (Senior Preventive Conservator, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales) is a member of the Welsh Government’s Emergency Planning Network Wales; he ensures the long-term preservation of museum collections, has experience working with the emergency services and will highlight the importance of preserving heritage for future generations while addressing the issues of looting and illicit trade in cultural objects.

If you are interested in this subject please follow our blog and come along to one of our events at National Museum Cardiff this summer.

We would like to offer volunteers the opportunity to get involved in caring for the museum collections on open display in the historic houses. We have a huge number of objects, including items made from pottery, glass, textiles, paper, wood and leather, all of which need constant care and repair.


We plan to use traditional housekeeping techniques as well as modern conservation methods to help keep our collection looking good.  No previous experience is required, all training will be provided.


New facilities are also being created for our housekeeping volunteers, providing a comfortable area to work as well as relax.


If you are interested in joining us, please follow this link to the application form and we look forward to hearing from you.
This is a pilot project so even if the initial days we offer are not suitable, please still register your interest as more opportunities will arise in the future.

Climate-change study in your own school yard
Science & Geography (KS2)


Make use of your outdoor classroom! Join the 175 schools taking part in this exciting investigation.


Spring Bulbs for Schools provides primary school pupils with the opportunity to adopt, study and record the development of spring bulbs as part of a spring watch network. Each pupil will receive a Tenby Daffodil, Crocus bulb and garden pot to record growth and flowering times.

Through collecting and comparing real data pupils discover how our changing climate is affecting our seasons and what this means for ourselves and the nature around us. Pupils take part in Professor Plant's Challenges to receive a super scientist certificate.

Any schools in Wales can take part as results are collected over the internet (or by post if necessary). This is an on-going investigation which means schools can take part year after year.

To apply for Spring Bulbs for Schools 2015-2016 please fill out the online application form by following the link below.

Application are now open but numbers are limited so apply soon to ensure your place on the project! Application is only open to schools in Wales. Recruitment for English and Scottish schools has closed but please contact The Edina Trust for information about taking part in the project 2016-2017.

Spring Bulbs for Schools - Application form

For enquiries please Email SCAN

We are currently recruiting housekeeping volunteers at St.Fagans to help look after the displays in the historic houses and Castle. This is a new scheme that is open to anyone who would like to get involved and learn more about traditional housekeeping techniques. Many of which still have a use today, such as using natural herbs and flowers to repel moths from precious woollen jumpers.


With your help we would also like to enhance the interpretation of the buildings by putting more of the collections on display and reintroduce traditional crafts to create replica items, such as rag rugs, baskets and wicker carpet beaters.


Training will be provided, so no previous experience is required, all we ask in return is a few hours of your time a week.  This is a pilot project, so even if the days currently on offer are not suitable please do still get in contact and register your interest.


As part of the project we have converted one of the cottages at Llwyn yr Eos farm into a base for housekeeping volunteers, with studios and a comfortable place to relax.


If you are interested in becoming a housekeeping volunteer please follow this link and we look forward to hearing from you.

Keith Harrison's superb installation Mute in Fragile? focuses on the viewer/ visitors interacting with the work. From seeing yourself reflected in gold tiled surface of the work to walking around the huge installation in the gallery to spinning a vinyl on the deck.

The "aim" of this installation is to make the slip in the speakers break down and discover what happens to the sounds: a voyage of discovery as much for the artist and the museum as the exhibition is for the visitor!

Records are played on one or both of the decks in the gallery which are attached to the main body of the installation, the music then sounds through a wall of dried slip (dried liquid clay) filled speakers, which crack and crumble as the music reverberates through them. Keith supplied several vinyl's for people to play on the decks of Mute. All records feature brass and horns and are ready to be used on shelving at the back of the gallery.

However he was also keen to encourage people to bring in their own records to be played in the galleries, and over the last few weeks we've noticed that the number of records seem to be growing!

Originally starting at 14, the number of vinyl's has grown to 18 (one was being played as the image was taken!). People seem to be leaving records in the space for others to enjoy!

If you want to experience this incredible installation why don't you bring in a record to play on Mute and contribute to this installation?

It may be some way off but a date to put in your diary is Keith Harrison's "In Conversation" on July 19th: http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/cardiff/whatson/?id=7959

Also Spillers is hosting a late night event tomorrow (the 28th June!): http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/cardiff/whatson/?id=7848