Amgueddfa Blog: Museums, Exhibitions and Events

In parts one and two I discussed the highlights of the galleries, learning department and the carpentry. In this post I will be discussing the highlights of the historic buildings.

Historic Buildings

On the final day of our exchange we had a full tour of the historic buildings with Marina, head of Historyland. The buildings we visited included a 19th century Inn, 18th century timber farm fortification, a 19th century school, a 1940s house and 1970s buildings. The tour also included a chance to look inside a 1950s bus which was used as a mobile shop. The bus reminded me of the van I used to load when I worked in a fruit and veg store back in my teenage years (in the 2000s not the 1950s).

One of the highlights of the tour was the 19th century inn, which was also used as a court house. Underneath the inn was a cellar that was not only used for storage but also to house prisoners before a trial. It would have been a tight squeeze to fit in this tiny space! Another highlight were the desks in the 19th century school that had a sandbox across the top for young children to practice their letters. In our Maestir school we have small sand boxes for this purpose, so it was interesting to see these on a larger scale. 

My favourite area we visited was definitely the 1970s. This area included a country shack for hippies to escape the hustle and bustle of the modern world and a luxury family villa. Both buildings showed how immersive Historyland must be when it’s in action. It was like walking back in time into someone’s home. The buildings were full of clothes, furniture and working 70s technology. You were free to fully explore and even look inside the drawers and cupboards which were full of bits and bobs from the 70s. Each room of the villa was a different world to explore. In the parents room there were clothes and wigs, in the children’s room there were toys, in the teenage girl’s room there were drawings of her favourite pop stars, and in the teenage boy’s room there was even a 1970s adult magazine hidden away in a drawer! I can’t imagine a British museum being so risqué!

Overall experience

Overall it was a great experience to see another open air museum in action and to pick up some tips on making the visitor experience more interactive. All the staff were very friendly and informative and the people we met in Östersund were all very friendly and courteous. I look forward to an opportunity to return to Sweden and I would definitely like to see Historyland in full swing.

On 29th July, we are going to take part in an international event to support tiger conservation across the world.

You may be shocked to realize that we have lost 97% of all wild tigers. Worldwide, tigers are on the brink of extinction with many species listed as Endangered or Critically Endangered. The goal of the day is to raise public awareness of tiger conservation issues, and to work to find a way to halt their rapid decline. This is an annual event that we will be taking part in for the first time.  The day was first celebrated in 2010 following the Tiger Summit held in St. Petersburg.

Many international organisations will be involved in events across the globe, working towards increasing the numbers of tigers in the wild. So what will be happening at the museum on international tiger day?

The star of the show will be Bryn, a most handsome Sumatran Tiger. Bryn came to the museum in 2016 after spending his life at the Welsh Mountain Zoo in Colwyn Bay. You can find out more about him by reading my last blog. Bryn will only be on display for this one day, so do not miss this opportunity to come and see him up close.

Helping us learn more about Bryn will be the ever-wonderful Dr Rhys Jones. Lecturer, reptile specialist, jungle man and wildlife welfare warrior, Rhys has worked with many charities in conserving and rescuing endangered and exotic animals.

We are especially pleased to announce that the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) will be joining us, one of the key charities involved in conservation efforts across the globe. WWF work closely with governments around the world to provide support for surveying and protecting tigers and have launched Tx2. An ambitious conservation project aiming to double the number of tigers in the wild by 2022 – the next Chinese year of the tiger.

I am also incredibly excited to announce that the fabulous Nicola Davies (@nicolakidsbooks) will be with us running big cat activities throughout the day. Nicola is a wonderful children’s author with an infectious enthusiasm for animals and the natural world. Join her for storytelling sessions and rhyming activities (bookable on the day).

There will also be drop-in activities throughout the day so there is plenty to keep you and your family busy. We can't wait to see you. You can find out more on our Facebook event page, or What’s On.

You can follow global tiger events on social media using a range of hashtags: #doubletigers, #iprotectTigers, #TigersForever, #3890tigers.

If you want to find out more about what is being done to protect tigers, here are some useful webpages: Project Tiger, Tigers ForeverSave the Tiger fund, WildTeam & Save Tigers Now.  

In part one I gave some background to the exchange programme with Jamtli museum and my experience of the galleries. In this blog I will focus on the shadowing opportunities we had.

Learning Department

Much of the week, Heulwen and myself shadowed members of the Jamtli learning department. The sessions we shadowed included a visit by a preschool class (6 year olds), a primary school prehistory session, adults learning Swedish and parents with preschool aged children (aged 0-5).

The highlight was the session for the preschool class as it had similarities with 2 of our sessions at St Fagans. The session was run by Pia who was playing a 19th century character. The children helped Pia prepare her house for a visitor by cleaning and doing some shopping. It was a very interactive session and kept the children engaged the whole time. It has given us some good ideas to make our school sessions more hands on. The buildings used for the preschool were perfectly set up for young children, with play areas designed to be child sized.

We also had the opportunity to visit the 1950s house and had a discussion about reminiscence sessions. It was very useful to find out how the sessions are delivered. Of particular interest was discovering that when groups from care homes visit the museum finds out where the participants are from. They then cater the information and images to the group by providing images from their home towns. The participants sometimes even recognise the people in the photos!

Carpentry

On the Wednesday, Heulwen, Pascal and myself had a tour of the timber buildings led by Jamtli’s head carpenter, Matts. The highlight of this tour was the timber church with painted walls on the inside. This was vividly painted and reminded me of our own St Teilos church here at St Fagans.

Afterwards we visited the wood workshop where we learnt how to make thin shingles and thick shingles (known as church shingles). I had a go at making both types but found the thin shingles much easier to make and was able to make several during my time. The thin shin shingles didn't require too much skill, whereas church shingles required skilled use of an axe. In my unskilled hands I found the axe work very tiring and I only made one church shingle.

Up next…

In the final instalment of my Jamtli visit blog I will discuss the highlights of visiting the historic buildings.

Back in May I was very lucky to go to Jamtli museum on a staff exchange trip called Sharing and Learning. The visit was the last of a series of staff exchanges between St Fagans National Museum of History and Jamtli museum. The exchange programme was funded by Erasmus Plus.

Jamtli Museum

Jamtli museum is situated in the city of Östersund, the capital of Jämtland county in the centre of Sweden. The museum is an open air museum similar to St Fagans. Visitors have the opportunity to visit historic buildings as well as galleries exploring Jämtland’s history. In the summer months the historic buildings come to life during Historyland. During this time actors give visitors the opportunity to step back in time to the 18th – 20th Centuries.

Our visit was too early in the year to see Historyland in action but we still had the chance to see the great offer Jamtli has the rest of the year. Myself and my colleague, Heulwen, work in the learning department at St Fagans so our focus was to see what learning opportunities the museum has on offer.

The Galleries

Along with our colleague, Pascal, we started the week with a tour of Jamtli’s indoor galleries. The route down to the galleries provides an opportunity to take a less than traditional method of entering them. At the top of the stairs is a slide in the shape of the Great Lake Monster, Östersund’s equivalent of Loch Ness. Being the big kid I am, I decided to take the fun route down to the galleries. Personally, I think it’s a great way to make the experience of visiting a museum more appealing to children.

The main highlights were the temporary exhibition on hairstyles through the ages, as well as the Sami and Viking exhibitions. All of the exhibitions included some kind of interactivity to encourage children to engage with their history. The exhibitions struck a great balance between the ‘traditional’ museum experience and a more interactive experience.

Up Next…

In the next blog I will focus on the opportunities we had whilst shadowing. Before I go I thought I’d share an image of the horses at Jamtli enjoying the snowy weather in May!

Our new exhibition, “Agatha Christie: A Life in Photographs,” shows rarely-seen photographs, letters and personal belongings from the most widely published author of all time. But did you know that the Queen of Crime had strong connections to Wales?

Agatha’s only child, Rosalind, married a Welsh man called Hubert Prichard. They lived at a house called Pwllywrach, just outside the village of Colwinston, Vale of Glamorgan. Their son Mathew was brought up there. As a doting grandmother, Agatha visited regularly to see her daughter and only grandchild and became very fond of Wales. There is a family photograph album in the exhibition with a picture of Agatha at Pwllywrach. There’s also an album showing the press cuttings about her daughter’s marriage in the show.

Wales also featured in Agatha’s writing. In 1967, she published “Endless Night” – a story set on a road outside Cardiff and inspired by a local legend. A first edition and a notebook of her ideas for the story are both in the exhibition, as well as her typewriter.

The exhibition has been kindly supported by the Colwinston Trust, named after the village where Agatha’s daughter lived. Established in 1995, the Trust distributes grants to UK Registered Charities working in the areas of opera, music and the visual arts. Funding is primarily directed towards the support of activity that benefits Wales. The Trust’s main income is royalties from the London production of “The Mousetrap,” the murder mystery written by Agatha Christie.

Agatha Christie: A Life in Photgraphs, is on display until 3 September 2017 and admission is free.