Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum Wales


The Department of Natural Sciences at Amgueddfa Cymru in collaboration with the Wildlife Trust for South and West Wales organised the sixth Unknown Wales. The day to celebrate Welsh wildlife was funded by a generous donation from a museum patron. This year, Dr Richard Bevins, head of the Natural Sciences Department, welcomed a record 240 members of the public to the Reardon Smith lecture theatre at National Museum Cardiff. Attendees came from across South and Mid-Wales as well as from over the Channel in Bristol.

We had overwhelming feedback this time - 88 people have responded. A third of respondents were new to the event, but many people return every year:

“As usual superb presentations by passionate presenters, many thanks”

“Gwych unwaith eto – dw i’n dod pob blwyddyn, diolch!"

We always aim for a broad range of natural history topics delivered in an accessible way:

“A really enjoyable day and very well pitched at all generations and interests”

“John Archer-Thomson – very engaging speaker, made a potentially dry subject [limpets] interesting and informative. Lovely films of Pine Martens.”

A-level and University students felt the topics were relevant to their studies.

“The enthusiasm of the speakers for their subjects, the beautiful location and applying real ecological issues to my studies (I am a student at Cardiff Uni studying biology)”

“Fungi and colliery spoils were especially interesting and the limpets talk gave information that’s very helpful for A-level biology”

Our special guest was Prof. Mike Benton from Bristol University. He spoke about how the discovery of Wales’s newest dinosaur, Dracoraptor hanigani, tells us more about the origins of the dinosaurs.

“Good to see Palaeontology within context of contemporary talk…Fab.”

People have given us many suggestions for topics for next time; “foraging”, “bats” or “urban greening” are just some of the ideas that could be appearing in the future.

We sacrificed question and answer time to enable speakers to finish their talks. However, feedback showed many people missed the interactive aspect. There was some chance for people to talk to speakers informally alongside the displays in the Oriel Suite at lunch, but we acknowledge this is not a substitute for audience participation at the time of the talks.

The Storify article shows how people followed the event live on the day via social media:

For first time we have created a display using the museum collections to link into topics covered at the event. We have just incorporated some of the feedback we received into it. The display is at the top for the restaurant stairs in National Museum Cardiff and runs until 30th October 2016.



Hello Bulb Buddies,

There isn't long to go until planting day on 20th October! Are you ready? Here are some helpful resources to prepare you for planting your bulbs and for looking after them over the coming months! These are also on the Spring Bulbs for Schools website:

These resources will help you on planting day:

  • A Letter from Professor Plant (introduction to the project)
  • 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

It's important that you read these as they contain important information! For example, do you know how deep you need to plant your bulbs? Or how 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

This week’s Youth Forum again made me think about museums and what they can do, and how they should be, in a different way.

While looking at art from the First World War had at times been a sensory overload, this time we were trying to understand what it would be like to come to a museum without one specific sense fully intact. How to make museum exhibits more accessible for the partially sighted?

Having always gone to museums with my sight in (near enough) tip top condition, I and probably others tended to presume it was a pretty necessary requirement. If I had trouble seeing the paintings/sculptures/artefacts, then I don’t think I’d want to go. Because if seeing is believing, and I couldn’t see what I was supposed to be learning about, then surely I wouldn’t learn very much and would end up feeling quite left out, even though this obviously shouldn’t be the case.

And it doesn’t have to be! The paintings and sculptures that we looked up were a bit of a mix, ones that more well-known and some that were completely new. Among the ideas that we came up with, for example, involved the painting Bad News, by James Tissot, incorporating the playing of military marching music alongside the painting to evoke the solemnity and sorrow of leaving your family to go off and fight in another corner of the world.

Similarly, for Entrance to Cardiff Docks by Lionel Walden, lighting effects could imitate the lights of the port and the surrounding buildings, with sound effects of ships coming into port, water slapping against the quay, sailors shouting to each other. We could have smells to add to the experience (although maybe not the fish!). Instead of rough sailors accompanying Manet’s San Maggiore by Twilight, it would be the gentle, joyful peel of Italian church bells.

In front of a painting of Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn, Thomas Apperly and Edward Hamilton by Pompeo Batoni there could be a table with the objects and chairs laid out exactly as they are in the picture, as if the subjects had just finished the sitting and left only a few moments ago. David Nash’s intriguing sculpture Multi-Cut Column could have smaller imitations made of it, that people could actually pass around and touch, something rarely allowed in any exhibit. 

I realise there would be some technical issues in making sure it wasn’t distracting or taking away from the other exhibits, and that maybe not all these ideas will actually become a finished product, but I hope that at least some of them do work out. Because who wouldn’t want to experience this? It might be a bit like theatre, the art being brought to life, stepping into the painting. While I’m definitely thankful I’m not visually impaired in any way, I’m also thankful I took the time to try and understand the experience of those who are. 

  • Our next Audio Description Tour will take place on the 8th of December will be of our Natural History Collections.

‘The Lost Treasures of Swansea Bay’ is the first Community Archaeology project funded by the HLF project Saving Treasures; Telling Stories. Run by Swansea Museum, the project is inspired by a collection of finds made by a local metal detectorist on Swansea Bay, which has also been acquired for the museum by Saving Treasures.

Blades and Badges

It includes some mysterious items, such as a Bronze Age tool with a curved blade which has had archaeologists scratching their heads. Ideas about its purpose range from opening shellfish, to scraping seaweed off nets or rocks, to carving bowls.

Amongst the other items found on the bay are a number of medieval pilgrim badges, including one brought back from the important shrine of Thomas Becket at Canterbury. Pilgrim badges are usually made of lead or pewter and were often bought at shrines as a souvenir and worn on the pilgrim’s hat or cloak.

It is thought that those found in Swansea Bay were probably thrown into the sea by pilgrims returning to south Wales by boat as a thank offering for their safe return. It seems like a curiously pagan thing for a medieval Christian to do, but it’s similar to the modern practice of throwing coins in wells, which is itself a survival of an ancient religious ritual.

The Archaeology of the Bay

The new collection is just a tiny fraction of the objects discovered on the bay, which has a rich and varied – as well as sensitive – archaeology. This includes fragments of Bronze Age trackways and prehistoric forests, Roman brooches, ceramics, shipwrecks and the remains of World War Two bombs.

Community Involvement

Each one has a tale to tell and together they are helping archaeologists build the story of human activity in the bay over thousands of years. Helping to interpret the finds, their significance for the history of Swansea Bay and for the people of modern Swansea are representatives from Swansea community groups, including the Red Café youth group, the Dylan Thomas Centre’s Young Writers Squad, Community First families and the Young Archaeologist Club.

The project’s first activity, a Big Beachcomb, took place on the bay itself on Saturday 17th September, but to find out about that you will have to wait for the next blog in this series…..


Mae’n swyddogol – peidiwch da chi â bod heb ddilledyn melfed yr hydref hwn! Dyma farn rhai o gylchgronau mwyaf dylanwadol y byd ffasiwn ar hyn o bryd. Ond er y chwiw presennol am bopeth melfed, mae’r defnydd moethus hwn wedi bod yn rhan o gwpwrdd dillad y genedl ers canrifoedd lawer.

Yn hanesyddol, fe ystyrir melfed fel dynodydd cyfoeth a statws – ffaith sy’n cael ei amlygu yng nghasgliadau gwisgoedd a thecstiliau yr Amgueddfa. Mae’r casgliadau hyn yn cynnwys gwrthrychau fu unwaith yn eiddo i rai o feistri tir enwocaf Cymru – teuluoedd cefnog, fel y Morganiaid o Dŷ Tredegar, a oedd yn addurno eu tai ac yn gwisgo defnyddiau costus i ddatgan eu cyfoeth i’r byd.

Ymhlith yr eitemau sydd ar gof a chadw yn yr Amgueddfa mae siaced felfed lliw eirin tywyll a wnaed yn 1770 ar gyfer Syr Watkin Williams-Wynn, y Pedwerydd Barwnig. Wedi ei eni yn 1749 ar ’stâd Wynnstay, ger Rhiwabon, roedd Syr Watkin yn adnabyddus fel un o noddwyr amlycaf y celfyddydau yng Nghymru. Yn ogystal â phrynu darnau o gelf, crochenwaith a dodrefn gan gynllunwyr mawr y dydd, roedd hefyd yn hoff o wario ar ddillad.

Pan oedd yn 19 mlwydd oed, aeth Syr Watkin ar Daith Fawr o Ewrop – rhan annatod o lwybr bywyd bonheddwr ifanc yn y cyfnod hwn. Rhwng Mehefin 1768 a Chwefror y flwyddyn ganlynol, bu’n crwydro Ffrainc, Y Swistir a’r Eidal. Mae llyfrau cyfrifon ’stâd Wynnstay yn dangos iddo wario £220 ar ddillad yn ystod y daith. Prynodd wisgoedd ym Mharis, siwt felfed blodeuog yn Lyon a llathenni o felfed gan sidanwr yn Turin.

Mae’n bosibl mai’r felfed hwn a ddefnyddiwyd i wneud y siaced sydd erbyn hyn ym meddiant yr Amgueddfa. Nid siaced bob dydd mo hon – mae hi wedi ei theilwra’n gywrain a’i brodio gydag edafedd sidan, rhubanau a secwinau aur. Mae’n debyg mai teiliwr yn Llundain fu’n gyfrifol am ei thorri a’i gwnïo. Roedd teilwriaid ffasiynol y cyfnod yn cyflogi nifer o frodwyr proffesiynol i addurno eu gwaith – dynion, nid menywod, oedd y rhain.

Yn 1770 cynhaliwyd parti chwedlonol yn Wynnstay i nodi penblwydd Syr Watkin yn 21 oed. Tybed ai’r gôt felfed oedd amdano’r noson honno? Daeth 15,000 i’r dathliad a thri llond coets o gogyddion o Lundain. Ar y fwydlen roedd 30 bustach, 50 mochyn, 50 llo, 18 oen, 37 twrci a llu o ddanteithion eraill. Does ryfedd i Syr Watkin fagu cryn dipyn o bwysau erbyn diwedd ei oes!