Amgueddfa Blog: Learning

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.

I began volunteering for Amgueddfa Cymru while I was studying at Cardiff University. I took part in a Family Learning Placement with the Learning Department in The National Museum Cardiff. I had already decided that I wanted to work in the Museum Sector and I was already pretty certain that I wanted to work in museum learning from volunteering at other organisations.

The aim of the placement was to create and deliver drop-in craft activities for the summer holidays. Although I had volunteered in other museums, this placement allowed me to develop new skills and showed me the diverse jobs done by a Museum Educator.

In pervious volunteer roles, I had facilitated activities for school groups before but never designed them. This placement gave me the opportunity to create activities. I also had the opportunity to look around some of the stores, meet the Curators and learn about preventative conservation.

This placement was great because it gave us clear learning objectives and an outcome. We had organised sessions, which taught us about designing family activities and gave us the chance to try out the activities the Museum already had.

Volunteering with Amgueddfa Cymru helped me develop skills, which I still use today as an Education Officer. It was my first glimpse into the diversity of the work of a Museum Educator and I have spoken about it a lot during interviews.

I now work in the Egypt Centre: Museum of Egyptian Antiquities as the Education and Events Officer. I organise and run the Museum’s Learning Programme.


Follow me on twitter @H_Sweetapple @TheEgyptCentre

Hello Bulb Buddies,

It's planting day for schools in Wales, England and Northern Ireland! Schools in Scotland will be planting next Friday.

Click here for activities and resources that will help you with this part of the project and with looking after your bulbs over the coming months! 

These resources will help you on planting day:

  • Adopt your Bulb (an overview of the care your Bulbs will need)
  • Planting your Bulbs (guidelines for ensuring a fair experiment)

And these activities are fun to complete:

  • Bulb Adoption Certificate
  • Make Bulb Labels

Please read these as they contain important information! For example, do you know to label your pot so that you know where the Daffodil and Crocus are planted?

Remember to take photos of your planting day to enter the Planting Day Photo Competition!

Keep an eye on Professor Plant's Twitter page to see photos from other schools.

Best of luck Bulb Buddies! Let us know how you get on!

Professor Plant & Baby Bulb

Earlier this year I was presented with the chance of a lifetime, a paid opportunity to develop my professional career and expand my portfolio. I applied for an artist in residency with Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales, to work with their museum volunteers up and down the country, to create a project that would celebrate 10 years of the volunteering program. After a thoroughly exciting interview process, I was asked to join the team.

Fast forward 6 months and my Artist Residency has now reached a close. I’m very happy with the work I have created; it showers the volunteering hub in colour and celebrates the amazing contribution volunteers have given to the museum. It fills me with joy to share my work with such an enthusiastic cohort of volunteers from all walks of life.

I started designing the mural at the same time as touring the country and running creative workshops with volunteers. I had collected a long list of volunteer roles but understanding them in a way that helped me generate genuine visuals required meeting volunteers in person, visiting the sites and experiencing what they do first hand. Over a month or two, I managed to construct flowing imagery to turn into celebratory hanging banners - a design format that stood out during my research.

I created the design by hand, as I feel more comfortable using traditional techniques, then started the daunting task of rendering a digital copy of the work using Adobe Illustrator. Including this step was somewhat of a learning curve for me, but it’s been a valuable experience. Having a digital copy of the design meant that we could create prints for all the museum sites and a printed gift for each of the volunteers. It also sped up the painting process because it allowed me to use a projector.

Using string, pins and painters tape I divided the wall up into segments. Piece by piece I projected and copied details of the design upon the walls rough surface. The wall is made of lime rendering, which it turns out is not a very cooperative surface to paint on. It’s dry, so moisture from the paint is quickly absorbed which increases the amount of paint needed, the stroke count and the time it takes. It’s also rough, which slowly ruins brushes and pens.

Once the design was cartooned upon the wall, I chose to fill in large areas using low-pressure spray paint. This part of the process saved time and had the lucky benefit of creating a smoother plastic wrap over the wall. After filling the space with basic flat shapes I used brushes and pens to add details and definition with regular acrylic paints.

My goal was to create a design that was not only on brief, but functional, aesthetically pleasing and contained other layers of depth hidden below the surface. The hanging banner format is supposed to connote a sense of celebration and heraldry. The colour palette is reminiscent of the dyes used in the tapestries sewn by volunteers for Llys Llewelyn. I wanted the illustration style to be subtly influenced by welsh traditional craft and contain subtle suggestions of embroidery, slip-on cast tiles patchwork etc. I created the typeface used for the quotes contained in the artwork from some of the earliest welsh stone carvings found on a cross near Ogmore.

I’d been looking forward to the painting process since the very beginning, it was long and laborious but oh-so rewarding. Despite the fact that a large percentage of my wardrobe is speckled with a rainbow of vibrant acrylic, I really enjoyed physically crafting something.

I want to say the biggest thank you to everyone in the volunteering & community engagement department - especially Ffion & Haf - for checking in on me and giving me guidance and support, thank you to all the kind staff at St Fagans for making me feel welcome, thank you to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for providing the funding for this amazing opportunity, thank you to my partner Elin for driving me everywhere, but most of all the volunteers who have truly enriched my experience.

The last 6 months have been the best of my life. It has been so rewarding to work in a creative role where I feel valued. I’m going to miss working at Amgueddfa Cymru. 


If you'd like to know more about the project as it was happening you can have a look at Robin's previous blog https://museum.wales/blog/2019-06-20/ARTISTS-PROJECT-Celebrating-10-Years-of-Volunteering/

 

Move over Alexa, Ada the pianola’s back!

‘Alexa, play me a song by the Beatles! Alexa what about something by One Direction! Alexa, play something classical! Beethoven or Mozart. Alexa, Alexa, Alexa you are the must have gadget of the 21st century - but Alexa you don't always get it right?!

This is where I Ada, the Pianola comes in. Let’s travel back over a hundred years in time from 2019 to 1919 when I was in my heyday and see how I performed. I am, the first truly musical piano-playing device in the world. Listen to my specifications. They are quite impressive if I say so myself. I was designed and first made by Edwin Scott Votey in his workshop in Detroit in 1895. So even one hundred years ago I had already been around for nearly twenty five years.

‘What can you do?’ I hear you ask.

Well I can play any number of tunes you request…. Music hall songs, Christmas carols, nocturnes by Chopin to name but a few, and I make no mistakes! I do need a human to work the pedals and load the music scrolls. My sound is generated by the pianolist's feet, and controlled in pitch by a perforated music roll. When my pedals are pressed, I send air up through holes in a roll of paper to press my keys and hey presto I am in action. Sit back and enjoy my performance. With my help, anyone can make music.

‘So you don’t operate alone? ‘you ask.

Well neither do you Alexa, as far as I can see. You need wi-fi, monthly fees, speakers and human instructors.

I was around throughout the 20th century. But will you still be operating in 2119? Who remembers music cassettes and floppy disks now?

Who can tell? Who knows? But I think I am ageless. I can go on for ever.

Want to check me out for yourself?

If so, you will find me in the Oakdale Workmen’s Institute on the top floor in the grand ballroom. Pop in on a Wednesday morning and my volunteers Cheryl and Marie will show you the works. Before too long you too will be singing my praises.