Amgueddfa Blog: National Waterfront Museum

Pride 2022

Zoe Gealy, 6 May 2022

After remembering how to pull together such a big event after such a long break, National Waterfront Museum hosted PRIDE on the weekend 30th May and Mini PRIDE on 1st June.  It was a huge team effort with staff from Community Engagement and Learning, Events and youth Engagement working in partnership with Swansea PRIDE, Swansea City Council and South Wales Police.  Not to mention our fabulous Front of House, Tech team, Cleaners (there was quite a bit of Glitter!!!), Marketing and Elior (sorry if I’ve forgotten anyone – we were all involved a bit).

PRIDE has been the largest ever event at the Waterfront in the past with well over 4000 people attending. We opted this year to focus on being the Community zone for PRIDE with a modest entertainment package, compared to the main stage out on Museum Green which also hosted food stands, merch stalls and drinks vans. 

Inside we had info stands, crafts and community sellers with partners ranging from YMCA Swansea to OXFAM Book swap, Swansea Vikings gay and inclusive rugby team (a popular stand!) Proud councils and Mid and West Wales Fire Service (also strangely popular!) Outside, the GRAFT garden saw a range of fun activities including Circus Skills with Circus Eruption, African drumming, an identity workshop and chalk drawing.  Inside hosted True colours inclusive choir, Mermaids walkabout, Zumba flashmob amongst other things. In the speakers corner we saw a packed out talk and demo lead by Welsh Ballroom, followed by Christopher Anstee’s book launch of his new memoir ‘Polish the Crown’ followed by a thought-provoking Q+A panel discussion, looking at growing up LGBTQ+ and the impact of section 28.

As always, we started the day showing our support as an organisation by joining the parade through town, fortunately the sun shone for us all and the crowds were supportive and very vocal.

The evening showcased The Welsh Ballroom do their thing with their fantastically choreographed, all inclusive, body positive catwalk, with the opportunity for the audience to join in at the end of the show. 

Sunday was all about the little people with another action-packed sparkly day of fun.  There were My Little Pony and Troll Walk Abouts, Crafts and Glitter galore, a packed out Drag Queen Story Hour, What is PRIDE? Q+A for Kids hosted by Good Vibes teens, and culminating in a very fun and very cute mini PRIDE parade through the main hall.

It was such a fantastic weekend, seeing so many familiar faces in REAL LIFE after SO long.  One community partner, on walking into the museum to set up and seeing all of the LGBTQ+ flags and umbrellas had a little cry and said ‘Thank you, I feel like I’ve come home, it’s so nice to feel like I can be me’.

Here’s to 2023…

Trawsnewid is here!

Oska von Ruhland, 10 March 2022

The exhibition is free to visit at the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea, from 12 March through to 17 July 2022.

Trawsnewid, meaning 'Transformation', explores and celebrates Wales' history of queerness and social change. Objects on display have been taken from the Amgueddfa Cymru LGBTQ+ collection held at St Fagans National Museum of History to be compiled in a brand-new narrative, alongside new queer Welsh artworks. Visitors can walk through this often forgotten aspect of our past and see how the movement for social change continues into the present. With objects on display taking queer history as far back as the late 1700s, and even as recent as during the current Covid-19 pandemic, there is a wide breadth of communities, identities and movements represented in the exhibition.

The objects that are highlighted in this exhibition were selected by the participants of the Trawsnewid project. The participants are young people who host and attend various workshops that explore history of Wales' LGBTQ+ people and culture and have come together to develop the theme of this exhibition, focusing mainly on queer art and creations. Over several weeks the participants have gone through the collection and selected which pieces stand out the most as important markers of queer Welsh history.

Integrated in the display is a collection of new artworks made by some of the volunteers. Each piece has been inspired by some aspect of Wales' queer history, be it a piece from the LGBTQ+ Collection, or by the communities around them. A variety of artistic mediums come together to bring this often forgotten history right into the contemporary modern day.

Also showing at the exhibition is the Queer Cabaret – a series of short films created by Trawsnewid participants exploring their experiences and connection to Wales and queer identity. The entire cabaret is available to watch on YouTube, but at the exhibition you will be able to enjoy it while immersed in the culture and history curated by everyone on the Trawsnewid Project and the LGBTQ+ collection.

For me and the rest of the staff at the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea, it seems inconceivable that 15 years have passed since we welcomed our first visitors on the 17th of October 2005. Although in human terms being 15 is well on the way to being a ‘grown-up’, for everyone at the Waterfront Museum, we still feel very young, fresh and experimental.

I think there are a number of reasons for this.

First, our visitors are from a wide range of backgrounds and their motivation for visiting is varied. Of the quarter of a million visits the Waterfront Museum receives each year, a good proportion are first time visitors from outside the south-west of Wales. They are particularly attracted by innovative displays that tell the human story of Welsh industrialisation over the past three centuries with key objects from the collections of Amgueddfa Cymru and the City of Swansea explained through interactive interpretation. But although part of the family of Wales’ national museums, the Waterfront Museum is also very much a local museum, and most of the rest of our visitors are ‘regulars’, returning time and again to see the many temporary exhibitions devised or hosted by us each year, or attend the 300 or so free events and hands-on activities that form such an important part of our annual programme.

Second, the Waterfront Museum is a vast storehouse of materials and opportunities for learning and inspiration. In the same way that images can tell many stories, historic artefacts are points of departure, not fixed destinations for understanding, feelings and creativity. So the museum’s learning programmes for all ages always have an inter-disciplinary approach with lots of human stories and fun. Our unofficial motto is, ‘Try anything once, so long as it’s legal and safe’!

Third, the Waterfront Museum plays an important part in the wider cultural and economic life of the Swansea region. Many organisations and communities use the museum for meetings, a location in which to communicate their work to a wider public, or as a place for celebration. The museum is also a venue that can be hired for weddings, private and corporate meetings and entertaining. Here its central location, stunning architecture and fascinating displays really help to make these events so special.

Fourth, the Waterfront Museum has always been committed to the furthering the social purpose of our heritage. We have consistently worked to use our collections and facilities to help strengthen community identities, make newcomers to Swansea feel welcome and help disadvantaged people realise their potential by gaining skills and fostering ambition and self-respect.

And last, but by no means least, the Waterfront has always been blessed with amazing staff. We aim to appoint ‘people’ people, who enjoy welcoming our visitors, are helpful and knowledgeable and are great at working together as a dynamic team. Besides being great at their ‘official’ jobs, many possess other skills that we have been able to draw upon, especially in our events and learning programmes.

So what of the future? Despite the current difficulties with the Covid19 pandemic we are sure that the next fifteen years shall be as exciting and rewarding as the last fifteen. The redevelopment of the city centre and especially the new arena nearby will provide great opportunities to engage with different audiences. The ever-expanding online digital world will present us with many new ways to celebrate Welsh industry and innovation of both the past and today to a global audience. It is also likely that the experiences of the last eight months will make us all appreciate even more the delights of experiencing ‘real’ things in a place like the Waterfront Museum that is so equipped as a place for people to meet, engage with one another, learn and have fun.

 

At the National Waterfront Museum our aim is to bring the story of Wales, its people and the industries that have shaped our nation to life for school pupils through hands-on, unique experiences. For the past 15 years we have been part of an innovative collaboration with experienced theatre company, Theatr na nÓg, Swansea Museum and Technocamps. It is a partnership like no other in Wales, if not the UK. It combines live theatre, local and national museum collections with Technocamps’ expertise.   

This year marks 80 years since the sinking of the Arandora Star, whose tragic, little-known story will be vividly brought to life for school pupils across Wales through Theatr na nÓg’s radio play. Sadly 805 people lost their lives, including Welsh Italians who were onboard, on their way to internment camps in Canada. This year’s play will focus on Lina, a young girl living in Swansea facing an uncertain future after Italy joins the War in 1940. Her father is taken from their little Swansea café and transported on the Arandora Star.

Normally at this time of year we would be busy getting the final detail of our workshops together, ready to welcome thousands of school children through the Museum doors but 2020 has been very different for us all. With Covid-19 and the lockdowns that followed, delivering our normal workshops seemed impossible. However, this has challenged us to be more creative and has pushed our small team to develop a digital workshop comprised of short films and teachers’ resource to complement the radio play, The Arandora Star, focusing on the story of technology and innovation during the Second World War. 

So in our online workshops, learners will meet Captain Edward Morgan of the Royal Navy who will guide them through some information about the sinking of the Arandora Star and discuss some innovative communication technology that was used during the Second World War. Alongside this we have developed a teacher's resource with activities and suggestions for further work, all of which supports the new Curriculum for Wales 2022.  

We'll be celebrating the re-opening of the National Waterfront Museum after more than four months in verse, with a specially commissioned poem about life in lockdown, woven through by your words. This week, we're launching a campaign to get our visitors, fans, and community to contribute words and phrases for what will become a poetic legacy of these unprecedented times for the city and surrounding area.

All being well, on 28th August, we'll be unlocking the museum's doors and look forward to welcoming you all back, albeit on a pre-booked, ticketed (free ticket) entry basis, to manage numbers and maintain social distancing measures.

2020 marks the National Waterfront Museum’s 15th anniversary. When it opened in October 2005, it was to the words of a poem by the then National Poet of Wales, Gwyneth Lewis. So, for the unlocking of the doors this August, we want to conjure words, rhythms and rhymes once more, this time with your help!

Datgloi ~ Unlock will be a poetic celebration of the unlocking of our doors. We're asking the community of Swansea, our visitors and fans to let us know two things, each in 280 characters, which is the length of a tweet:

  • Describe your experience of lockdown (ANSWER IN 280 characters or less)
  • Why are you looking forward to the re-opening of the National Waterfront Museum? (ANSWER IN 280 characters or less)

Those wishing to get involved and submit their thoughts and words are invited to do so via the museum’s Facebook Page:

https://www.facebook.com/waterfrontmuseum 

or by Tweeting @the_waterfront and using #DatgloiUnlock

or by emailing us on DatgloiUnlock@museumwales.ac.uk

Through this project, our aim is to gather a sense of the lock-down experience for the people of Swansea and the region, and to understand what re-opening the museum will mean for you. The commissioned poets, Aneirin Karadog and Natalie Ann Holborow will then take these statements and craft them into two poems, one in Welsh, the other in English.

Speaking about the project, the Head of the National Waterfront Museum, Steph Mastoris said:

“Over the coming weeks, we’ll be engaging our local audiences and followers through social media and asking them to share a phrase or two about lockdown and what they’re most looking forward to seeing / doing when our museum reopens. Our commissioned poets will then use these words and phrases as the basis and inspiration for their poems, so that they reflect the experiences of our community during lockdown, and celebrate the unlocking of our museum, which over the past 15 years has found it’s place at the heart of the city’s community.”

The poets commissioned for this project both have strong connections with the Swansea area. 

Aneirin Karadog who will compose the Welsh language poem for Datgloi ~ Unlock

Aneirin Karadog is a poet, broadcaster, performer and linguist. He was brought up in Llanrwst before moving to Pontardawe in the 1980s

He graduated from New College, Oxford University, with a degree in French and Spanish. His mother is Breton and his father is Welsh; he can speak Welsh, English, Breton, French and Spanish fluently.

Aneirin is a familiar face on S4C, and a chaired bard of the National Eisteddfod (2016). He composes poetry on a range of metres from syncopatic rap to the ancient and fiendishly difficult Welsh language form, cynghanedd, and his work has been published widely.

Natalie Ann Holborow who will create the English language poem for Datgloi ~ Unlock

Natalie Ann Holborow is proud to be from Dylan Thomas’ hometown.

She is the multi award-winning Welsh writer whose debut collection, 'And Suddenly You Find Yourself' (Parthian, 2017) was listed as one of Wales Arts Review's 'Best of 2017' and was launched at the International Kolkata Literary Festival. She is a finalist for the Cursed Murphy International Spoken Word award and her second collection, 'Small', will be published by Parthian in 2020.

We're grateful to Literature Wales who advised and helped us set up this project. The poems will be unveiled at the opening of the National Waterfront Museum, planned for 28 August.

The National Museum of Wales is currently collecting reflections and memories of Covid 2020. Find out more about our Collecting Covid: Wales 2020 project here: www.museum.wales/collecting-covid/