Amgueddfa Blog: Learning

We have just launched our self-guided mindful tour here at St Fagans National Museum of History. The tour is through the gardens around St Fagans castle. Our new free fold-out map of the gardens encourages visitors to take in their surroundings and explore their different senses.

The idea of the tour came from my own experience of using mindfulness for my mental health. St Fagans castle gardens are beautiful all year round with animals and plants to see whatever the time of year. It is also a place where you can usually find a bit of quiet even during our busier times. Mindfulness is about being in the moment and focusing on individual senses. It’s surprising how much passes us by when we’re focused on our busy lives. Just stopping and concentrating on what you can smell or hear can help in times of stress.

Having the opportunity to walk around the gardens and take in the sights, sounds, smells and textures of nature has been very calming for me. My particular favourite is the Italian Garden in the summer with the running fountain. I feel incredibly lucky to work somewhere where I can do this and I wanted to share it with everyone who visits St Fagans.

Last summer I created a draft plan of a map to test with staff and community groups. Even though it was a very basic map at the time the feedback was very positive:

"Wir wedi mwynhau’r daith - diolch Joe! Braf cael cyfle i grwydro gerddi’r castell a mwynhau’r awyr iach. Diolch!"

“Lovely and peaceful, I like the sound of the water. The gardens were beautiful and very relaxing.”

"Wedi mwynhau gwylio’r colomennod ar ben y colomendy."

“Lots of quiet, secluded areas to sit down. I did find myself stopping to take note of my senses – smelling leaves, listening to the birds”

"Gall hwn fod un o highlights newydd SF"

“It felt like I had permission to take time and look and explore which was so nice.”

The feedback fed into the creation of the final version. It is designed by Frank Duffy who has done a great job of the illustrations and the look of the map. The map was funded by the Armed Forces Covenant who have supported a range of innovate events, displays and programmes at the Museum since 2014. One of the aims of the funding is to support the wellbeing of veterans and their families, so the concept of the mindfulness walk fitted in perfectly with the Covenant’s objectives. Members of the Armed Forces community had a first look at the new maps on 9th December 2019 with very positive feedback for how it could be used to help those living with mental ill health.

Try the tour out for yourself by picking up a copy at St Fagans. The map is available at the front desk or you can download a PDF version here.

During 2019 we spent time developing the skills programme at St Fagans, working with partners and communities to create opportunities for adult learning and skills development, linked to our work under the Fusion Initiative and the Well-Being of Future Generations Act. To mark the launch of the new section of our Learning website for Community Learning here’s an update on what’s been achieved so far and what’s to come in 2020.

Community Learning and Skills Development:

We have been working with organisations such as the Wallich, Hafal, Crisis and Oasis Cardiff to collaboratively establish craft skills taster sessions with their participants. Workshops including leather and copper work have inspired the participants to use the museum’s collections as inspiration, whilst bringing their own cultural experiences with them to each session. 

People who have taken part have shared their experiences and feedback with us. Here are some of the highlights:

“Immersing, interesting, rewarding”

“It’s something that I’ve never done before so I found leather work really interesting and relaxing.”

So far 243 people have been taken part in sessions from April and December 2019, with further sessions planned in 2020.

Widening Accesses Partnerships:

We have been collaborating with Cardiff Metropolitan University’s Widening Access department to bring accessible learning programmes to the museum, using the museum’s collections to enhance and deepen the learning potential. In 2019 two creative writing courses and one in complimentary therapy were delivered at St Fagans. A second Complimentary Therapy course is currently running and further courses are planned for later this year.

Learner feedback highlights:

“The course has been a good confidence booster and showed me where I would like to progress.”

“Really enjoyed the course, well tutored, supportive environment.”

Language Skills:

Creating opportunities for people to learn and develop their language skills forms an important element of the skills development programme. In 2019 St Fagans built on its partnership with Cardiff University School of Welsh, who delivered a 20 week Entry 1 course (January to July 2019). Many of the learners went on to enrol on the Entry 2 Course which started in September 2019. A blended Entry 1 and 2 course also started in September 2019, with a new Entry 1 course starting this January.   

ESOL Learners are benefitting from the St Fagans ESOL learning resources, developed collaboratively with Cardiff and the Vale College (CAVC), proving opportunities for them to use the museum as a safe space for learning, sharing their culture and developing their knowledge and understanding of Welsh cultural heritage. Groups have been visiting from colleges such as CAVC and the resources are being regularly downloaded from the Museum’s website – in total 174 downloads between May and December 2019.

This year we are celebrating this success and building on it by launching the new Community Learning section of our website. Head over to have a look and learn more about how to take part and book a visit.

Thanks to all the participants, partner organisations and the team at St Fagans for everything that’s been achieved so far.

Hello Bulb Buddies,

I’ve heard that many of you are expecting your plants to flower soon. Well done for looking after your plants so well. I’m looking forward to seeing photos of your flowers so please share these with me.

Why not have a go at drawing botanical illustrations of your plants? There are lots of different examples of drawings like these on the Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales website if you want ideas. I’ve added an example of a botanical drawing from the museum’s collection on the right, does this look like your plant?

Can you name the different parts of your plant? Do you know what the anther and the sepal are? Drawing and labeling your plants is a lovely way to look at them in more detail. Please share your artwork with me if you do this.

Remember to look at the ‘Keeping Flower Records’ resource on the website. This shows how to tell when your plant has fully opened and how to measure your plants height. These records are important for our study, as we will look at the average flowering dates and compare these with previous years.

It will be interesting to see whether our plants flower early this year. The MET Office reported that January 2020 was the 6th warmest January since 1884, with lower than average frosts for the time of year. Do you think this will have affected our plants growth?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section when you enter your weather data Bulb Buddies.

Keep up the good work!

Professor Plant

Hi Bulb Buddies, 

Thank you for all the data you’ve been entering to the website. I’ve enjoyed reading the comments you have shared with the weather data. Thank you for all of your messages and I hope that you are enjoying the project. 

Lots of you have shared that your plants have started to grow! That’s fantastic news. Please take photos of your plants and share these with me over Twitter or email.

Exciting comments about your plants growing:

Albert Primary School: The temperature changed throughout the week and there was a lot of rain. We think the bulbs may be starting to sprout.

Carnbroe Primary School: The plants are growing well.

Sandal Magna Community Academy: Some of our plants have started to grow leaves.

Ysgol Bro Pedr: A lovely dry week, apart from Friday. Our daffodil bulbs are starting to grow - exciting

High Cross Primary School: Hi professor plant the class’s plants are growing quite fast.

Hendredenny Park Primary: Hello, we can see little sprouts in our pots. There was no dead fly’s this week but there was a little bit of dirt .Bye

Hendredenny Park Primary: Some plant have started to sprout out of the soil.

High Cross Primary School: Hi professor plant the class’s plants are growing quite fast.

Comments about the weather:

Ysgol Ysbyty Ifan: Glaw trwm iawn a llifogydd yng Ngogledd Lloegr ddoe. Ond nid mor ddrwg yma. Pawb yn sgubo dail yr Hydref oddi ar yr iard ddoe a heddiw am ei bod yn oerach. Bl 3 a 4 wedi casglu'r afalau oddi ar ein coeden 5 Kilo! Tarten wysnos nesa! Athro’r Ardd: Da iawn Cyfeillion y Gwanwyn. Rydych wedi bod yn brysur!

Ferryside V.C.P School: Roedd y tywydd wythnos hon yn heulog ac yn oer. Dim ond 4ml o law a nowsweithu oer.

Arkholme Primary School: We had a lot of rainfall this Thursday, Maisie and I really enjoyed collecting the data this week. Unfortunately Mr Bonwick's Plant pot got knocked over, not much sign of any growth. Professor Plant: I’m sorry to hear one of your pots was kicked over! I’m glad to hear that you are enjoying the project though.

Saint Anthony's Primary School: The temperature gradually decreased until Friday when it dropped sharply. Professor Plant: Gosh bulb buddies, a drop from 8 to -2 in temperature!

St Fergus' Primary School: It has been very windy, cold and stormy this week.

Darran Park Primary: We've lots and lots of rain. Today we had hail stones at lunch time. It feels very cold in the wind.

Sanquhar Primary School: Thursday night we had snow so Friday morning reading it had melted.

Stanford in the Vale Primary School: A wet week and very cold! They are saying snow flurries next week.

Pil Primary School: Rained a lot in Pyle this week.

Arkholme Primary School: This week we noticed that it was quite cold also there was not much rain fall ether.

Bursar Primary Academy: We had 130ml of rain on Monday, 124ml on Thursday. Lincolnshire has had a large amount of rain.

St Fergus' Primary School: The flower beds and pots look tidier but there are still more leaves to be cleared. It was a mix of weather this week with some rain at the beginning of the week and then got colder at the end of the week. The frost stayed most of the day today (Friday).

Ysgol Bro Pedr: What a beautiful end to the week. Much better than the damp miserable weather at the start.

Oldfleet Primary School: Warmer all week but lots of wet play times

Stoneferry Primary School: Another rain-filled week!

Georgetown Primary (Tredegar): There was snow on Wednesday night from about 7.30pm. When we got up on Thursday everything was white. It started to rain and the snow cleared.

Arkholme Primary School: We have noticed that on Monday there was a very high rainfall. We had 3 very frosty nights at the start of the week. We have really enjoyed taking the reading.

Aberdare Park Primary School: We had a fall of snow on overnight on Wednesday. This turned to sleet early Thursday morning and then rain.

Darran Park Primary: We had some snow on Wednesday evening. It was really cold.

Henllys CIW Primary: The temperature stayed fairly consistent and the rain was weird due to the fact that it was wet on Monday, getting dryer and dryer until Thursday when it rained really hard and then all the way back to zero.

Stanford in the Vale Primary School: What a week of heavy rain and we experienced the chill factor also - starting to get cold!

Ysgol Bro Pedr: A mixture of all weathers this week - snow, sunshine, rain, frost, hailstones, wind!!!

Hudson Road Primary School: It felt chilly this week and cold. On Friday it was very rainy and it is supposed to snow!

Bardney Primary School: Rain fall on Friday 8th was actually 23mm but no option from drop down box. Rounded to the nearest 10. Professor Plant: Well done Bulb Buddies, that’s exactly what you need to do. Keep up the good work

Clifton Primary School: This is the first year we have been involved in the bulb project and we have really enjoyed our first week! On Thursday/Friday, Hull had an awful lot of rain which made measuring the rainfall quite interesting. We're looking forward to seeing everyone's results.

Bryncoch CiW Primary School: We have rounded the rainfall to the nearest 10mm

Professor Plant: Well done Bulb Buddies, that’s exactly what you need to do. Keep up the good work

Dalbeattie Primary School: On one day there was lots of drizzle but the next rainfall reading did not show anything other than a few droplets. Presumably, during the 24 hour period between readings, some of the water had evaporated out of the rain gauge? ProfessorPlant: That’s right Bulb Buddies.

Darran Park Primary: We have noticed that the temperature is getting colder.

Stanford in the Vale Primary School: Hello its Riley. We have planted all our bulbs and have been observing the rainfall and temperature this week - hardly any rain and we have said it’s getting colder - goodbye and have a nice weekend - Regards Riley

Stoneferry Primary School: Massive amount of rainfall this week - bulbs have had a lot of water. Children loved inputting the data with the teacher.

New Abbey Primary School: We have had a very cold, frosty but bright later on start to the week. However, today has warmer but with non-stop rain all day!

General comments:

Ysgol Gymraeg Dewi Sant (Llanelli): Helo Athro rydym yn mwynhau gofalu am y bylbiau. Diolch am anfon y bylbiau atom ni. Faint o ysgolion sy'n cymryd rhan? Pryd ydych chi'n credu bydd y bylbiau yn agor? Ni'n gyffrous iawn i weld y blodau! Athro’r Ardd: Helo Ysgol Gymraeg Dewi Sant, diolch am eich cyfraniad i’r prosiect. Mae 175 o ysgolion yn cymryd rhan yn yr ymholiad. Mae’n werth gwylio eich planhigion yn agos o hyn ymlaen, fel byddech yn gweld pryd maen nhw yn blodeuo.

Ysgol Gymraeg Caerffili: Plant wedi mwynhau cofnodi'r tywydd ac wedi cofio ei wneud pob dydd. Athro’r Ardd: Da iawn Cyfellion y Gwanwyn! Rwy'n falch o glywed eich bod yn mwynhau'r prosiect.

Our Lady of Peace Primary School: This week it was really cold but we went to the science centre on Thursday. We feel like scientists when we do this and send this to you. Professor Plant: Fantastic Our Lady of Peace Primary. You are super scientists, thank you for helping me with this experiment.

Ysgol Llwyn yr Eos: We measured the temperature and rainfall in the morning on Friday because we are going out this afternoon with our class to go carol singing in the community centre. Sorry that we haven't done it at the right time. Professor Plant: Thank you for entering your data Ysgol Llwyn yr Eos. I hope you enjoyed carol singing.

Fleet Wood Lane Primary School: It is hard to keep the rythm going after a couple of weeks. Professor Plant: Keep at Fleet Wood Lane Primary, you are doing a fantastic job. Your plants should be starting to grow soon!

St Fergus' Primary School: On Monday and Tuesday it was very frosty all day long. The rainfall was high on Wednesday and the temperature went up on Thursday. There was lots of leaves on the ground, tomorrow we will clear the leaves from the flower beds and pots. Professor Plant: Fantastic work Bulb Buddies.

Maesgwyn Special School: I enjoyed collecting the data this week. Professor Plant: I’m glad to hear you are enjoying the project Bulb Buddies.

Saint Anthony's Primary School: We forgot to do it on Wednesday and Thursday but we have set an alarm on Miss Harley's phone so we don't forget. Professor Plant: Good idea Bulb Buddies!

Our Lady of Peace Primary School: Sorry we sent our data late we couldn't log in to the computer because are teacher was not in class. Professor Plant: Thank you for entering your data Bulb Buddies, fantastic work.

Llanedeyrn Primary School: Thank you for sending us the bulbs. Professor Plant: You are welcome, thank you for taking part in the project.

Llanedeyrn Primary School: We are really enjoying this investigation. Professor Plant: I’m glad to hear you are enjoying the project Bulb Buddies.

Litchard Primary School: I'm enjoying the responsibility taking the temperature every day. Professor Plant: Thank you for taking part and I’m glad to hear you are enjoying the project.

High Cross Primary School: I what to see if professor plant is liking the data we’ve been sending. Professor Plant: Thank you very much for your data High Cross Primary. Fantastic work Bulb Buddies.

Ysgol San Sior: This was fun. Professor Plant: I’m glad to hear you are enjoying the project Bulb Buddies.

Maesgwyn Special School: We have had fun collecting our data this week. Professor Plant: I’m glad to hear you are enjoying the project Bulb Buddies.

St Fergus' Primary School: We have been recording our weather data at 2:30pm each day, we have noticed frost on some of the mornings but by the time 2:30pm comes it's gone and is warmer. We have had to clear some autumn leaves from our pots and flower bed. Professor Plant: Well done for looking after your flower beds Bulb Buddies. Is the frost still going before you take your weather readings? It’s still frosty in Cardiff this afternoon.

Llangan Primary School: What type of plant is professor Plant? Professor Plant: Hi Llangan Primary. You’ve planted Tenby daffodil and whitewell crocus bulbs. You’ve also planted some mystery bulbs! We’ll have to wait to see what these turn out to be. Any guesses?

Loreburn Primary School: Unfortunately our thermometer was stolen and one of our bulbs was dug up. The class are very sad about this. Professor Plant: I’m sorry to hear this Bulb Buddies. If you haven’t found a replacement thermometer I will send a new one. Keep up the good work Bulb Buddies.

Litchard Primary School: The thermometer mercury bit snapped. Professor Plant: Thank you for letting me know Bulb Buddies. If you haven’t found a replacement thermometer I will send you one.

High Cross Primary School: HI PROFESSOR PLANT. Professor Plant: Hi High Cross Primary. I hope that you are enjoying the project!

Laurieknowe Primary School: rain gauge broken over weekend - no rain data. Professor Plant: Thank you for letting me know Bulb Buddies. If you haven’t found a replacement I’ll send a new one to you.

Thanks again Bulb Buddies,

Professor Plant and Baby Bulb

“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