Amgueddfa Blog: Learning

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


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.

This August we welcomed families from Taff Housing Association in Canton and Herbert Thompson Primary School in Ely (SHEP, the ‘Food and Fun’ School Holiday Enrichment Programme) to St Fagans to join us for a new family cooking and gardening course, as part of the targeted family learning programme supporting the Fusion initiative and our commitments under the Well Being of Future Generations Act. The programme was developed and delivered in partnership with Cardiff Metropolitan University’s Widening Access department and First Campus. Families enjoyed a hands on experience, learning about growing, harvesting and cooking their own healthy food using produce gathered from the St Fagans gardens.

This was a new venture for us, and after working out how best to set up a “pop up” kitchen in one of our learning studios’ and sourcing all the equipment we would need, we were good to go.

The gardens at St Fagans are full of wonderful produce at this time of year – fruit, vegetables and herbs – lots of which are specialist heritage varieties. By enlarge crops are saved and seeds harvested to re plant the following year, as part of ongoing research into heritage varieties. However, the families who took part were lucky enough to spend time exploring the gardens with Juliet Hodgkiss, Senior Gardening Conservator. She showed them around so they could learn about growing and producing food, before harvesting some of the lovely produce on offer to use later in the kitchen. Runner beans, cabbages, shallots and herbs were all gathered and taken back to the class room.

When they returned to the kitchen, Dean Way, lecturer in Hospitality Management at Cardiff Metropolitan University was on hand to take the families through the process of creating a lovely meal, using the produce they had harvested. Here’s what the talented groups cooked, closely following the recipes created by Dean:

Fennel & Cabbage Slaw

½ small cabbage shredded

1 fennel bulb, cut into quarters and grated

1 White Onion, thinly sliced

50g Yoghurt

1 Tb Spoon of White Wine Vinegar

1 Tb Spoon of Caster Sugar

Salt & Pepper to Taste


  1. Half the Cabbage – Half Again and remove the Stalk. Then with a sharp knife thinly cut down into strips (shred down finely)
  2. Cut the fennel bulb into quarters and remove the stalk – then grate on the largest edge of a grater
  3. Peel and thinly slice a white onion
  4. Place all the vegetables in a bowl, then toss well. Stir in the yoghurt, vinegar and sugar to coat the salad, then season with lots of black pepper and a little salt. Any leftovers can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to two/three days.
  5. Serve with boiled eggs.


Runner Bean & Tomato Salsa

3 Runner Beans

1 glove of garlic, very finely chopped

1 medium red onion, very finely chopped

1 large beef tomato, very finely chopped

½ Lemon, juiced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander

1/2 teaspoon chilli powder

3 pinches of salt and pepper

1/2 teaspoon cumin

4 Tb spoon of Rapeseed Oil



  1. Peel and finely cut the runner beans and blanch in boiling water for two minutes. Place in bowl of very cold water until chilled and remove.
  2. Crush one garlic bulb and finely chop
  3. Thinly dice one red onion
  4. Thinly chop up one large beef tomato
  5. Cut one lemon in half
  6. Roughly Chop up a small handful of Coriander
  7. Place all the vegetables in a bowl, and then toss well. Stir in ALL ingredients and squeeze the juice of half a lemon into the mix.

Following the practical cooking session Dean took the groups through some eye opening and interesting information on healthy eating, taking a close up look at the food we eat and the levels of saturated fats and sugars hidden in so much of it! Look out for the helpful traffic light labels on the front of food packaging which will help you “see at a glance whether a food is high (red), medium (amber) or low (green) in fat, saturated fat, sugars or salt”. (NHS online: reference intakes explained)

As this was a pilot we were all very pleased with how the first courses went. Both groups enjoyed their time at St Fagans and shared some lovely feedback with us. Here’s a couple of the highlights:

“Excellent course, really enjoyed it!” (parent)

“The course is very educational and we all enjoyed it.” (child)

“I think it’s a very good and educational course. Something that appeals to both adults and children and starts children thinking about food choices from a very young age.” (parent)

“We got to taste the herbs as we picked them. I really liked the mint- it tasted like chewing gum. In the supermarket herbs are mainly dried and in packets so you can’t smell or touch them.” (child)

“The kids have told me they want to start growing vegetables in their Nan’s garden - I’ve never seen them eat veggies so fast!” (parent)

When asked what the top three things they had enjoyed about the course were, the families said:

“Learning how to slice vegetables, trying new foods, cooking with my Mum.” (child)

“Making fresh food with my daughter, gaining a better understanding of healthy eating and picking fresh veg.” (parent)

“Picking vegetables, cooking and understanding history.” (child)

“Learning all about the fat and sugar intake.” (child)

Now we’ve tested the water, so to speak, we’re looking forward to developing further opportunities next summer. Thanks to all the families for taking part and the partners for helping to make it happen.

Committed to the Well-being of Future Generations Act and our goal of a healthier Wales, Taff Housing Association families recently enjoyed a fun day out at St Fagan National Museum of History. The families enjoyed learning about healthy food choices that could benefit their future health.

There were many exciting things on offer for the families including a tour of the museum gardens –digging out shallots and cutting cabbages – watching a cooking demonstration from a Cardiff Metropolitan University lecturer in Hospitality Management and finishing with a presentation on nutrition. Every child had the opportunity to spend time washing, chopping and cooking produce. For many this was their first experience of creating healthy meals straight from the ground. As Alex, aged 12 said “We got to taste the herbs as we picked them. I really liked the mint- it tasted like chewing gum. In the supermarket herbs are mainly dried and in packets so you can’t smell or touch them.”


Several parents said that they struggle to cook healthy meals on a budget and find it hard to encourage children to eat vegetables. One parent commented, “Free travel was organised for us - getting our five children on several busses across town is easier said than done! The kids have told me they want to start growing vegetables in their Nan’s garden - I’ve never seen them eat veggies so fast!”


A big thank you to St Fagans National Museum of History and Cardiff Metropolitan University’s Widening Access team for organising this fantastic opportunity. We are already planning our return visit to the museum, allowing more children the opportunity to learn about healthier living and Welsh culture.