Amgueddfa Blog

Museum displays get dusty, inevitably, but this dust won’t be there for long. Armed with a paintbrush and a portable vacuum cleaner the Preventive Conservation team is ready to move through the museum galleries, cleaning as we go.

Once upon a time, gallery maintenance was an activity hidden behind closed doors, only undertaken when there were no visitors in the building. But things are changing, and what we once did behind closed doors now happens whilst the museum is open. Everyone can see what happens behind the scenes and Preventative Conservation becomes a temporary display itself. By working in front of an audience we can explain what we do and why we do it, after all it may look strange carefully dusting a painting. If it looks as if we smudge the paint on a painting: we don't - we are actually cleaning finger prints off the protective glass.

So why do we have to do this in the first place? Firstly dust doesn’t look very good, especially when you notice the frame and even the protective glass has dust on it – things like that would give a museum an air of neglect. But this is not the only reason; dust also has the potential to damage our museum’s collections. Dust can become sticky and attracts water (hygroscopic), which can cause mould. Dust can also attract pests, leaving museum collections vulnerable to damage from insects. By cleaning museum collections we can prevent dust build up, reducing risks to collections.

Museum collections will always need to be looked after, and removing dust is one simple way we can prevent multiple forms of damage to our heritage. Keep a look out for us in the museum galleries brushing a sculpture, we are always happy to talk about what we are doing!

P.S. Look out for the other activities we are doing in the galleries, we may be repackaging museum collections to reduce the risk of pest damage, checking pest traps, or cleaning the Natural History and Geology displays. There is always Preventative Conservation to do in the museum!

This guest blog was written by our volunteer Will Tregaskes who is giving a talk on this subject at the 'Conservation Matters in Wales' conference on Thursday 8th June 2017 at Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea.

Find out more about Care of Collections at Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales here and follow us on Twitter.

Whether you love L. S. Lowry, Lucian Freud or Richard Long, you know that when you visit Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales you can always see outstanding examples of international modern and contemporary art. What you might not know is that a significant part of that collection is here thanks to The Derek Williams Trust, which lends Amgueddfa Cymru over 260 of its most important works of twentieth and twenty-first century art.

This week sees the launch of The Derek Williams Trust website, a fantastic resource for anyone interested in exploring this collection. The site will enable you to search for art works and artists, and discover more about the Trust and its work with Amgueddfa Cymru.

Derek Williams was a Cardiff-based chartered surveyor and art lover, who had a particular interest in mid-twentieth century British art. He collected a large number of works by John Piper and Ceri Richards, which were supported with works by major figures such as Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore, David Jones, Ivon Hitchens and Josef Herman. Following Williams’ death in 1984, his collection and the residue of his estate were left in trust. Since that time, The Derek Williams Trust has undertaken the care, enhancement and public display of the collection, and in turn lends the collection to Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales. The generous support of Trust has transformed the Museum’s collection of twentieth century art and parallels the great bequests of French Impressionist art made by Gwendoline and Margaret Davies a generation earlier.

Since 1992, The Derek Williams Trust has also been working with Amgueddfa Cymru to build its own collection of modern and contemporary art, and recent purchases include work by Howard Hodgkin, George Shaw, Anthony Caro and Clare Woods. The Trust also provides financial support for Museum purchases, and funds the biennial Artes Mundi Derek Williams Trust Purchase Award – recent recipients include Tanja Bruguera, Ragnar Kjartansson and Bedwyr Williams.

For the latest news from The Derek Williams Trust collection, why not follow us on Instagram and Twitter?


There are lots of amazing things at National Museum Cardiff, but if we had to choose the one that’s most popular with our visitors it would probably be the dinosaurs. The Evolution of Wales gallery is often the first place people visit, and our dinosaur-themed school sessions are constantly in demand.

That’s why Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales is launching its new dinosaur eBook Dinosaur Detectives. Aimed at visitors between 7 and 11, the interactive resource allows users to become virtual palaeontologists and explore real fossils from our collections. The eBook contains photographs of specimens as well as Frank Duffy’s illustrations from our dinosaur children’s book, Albie The Adventurer.

You can unearth a dinosaur fossil, find out if T. rex had big feet, and discover what dinosaurs liked to eat, through a variety of puzzles, games and interactives that put the user in charge of their own learning. There is also the chance to meet Wales's newest dinosaur Dracoraptor hanigani.

Meet the Welsh dinosaur, Dracoraptor hanigani in the Evolution of Wales gallery
Model of Dracoraptor hanigani, the small theropod dinosaur found near to Penarth in 2014 and now on display in the Evolution of Wales gallery

Download the eBook onto your iPad or other Apple device and start finding out more. You can use it at home, or bring it to the museum and use it as you explore the galleries. Look for this symbol to find more dinosaur facts in the museum’s Evolution of Wales galleries. 

Let us know what you find out! Share your favourite dinosaur facts from the eBook or the museum on Twitter, by tagging us at @Museum_CdfLearn. Don’t forget to play the design-a-dinosaur game, and share that with us on Twitter too!

Download the Apple version from the iTunes store, or a PDF resource from our website.

If that’s not enough dinosaurs for one day, why not visit our new exhibition, Dinosaur Babies? Opening on the 27th of May, this is the first chance to see this exciting family-friendly exhibition in Wales. It includes full size dinosaur skeletons, touchable models of dinosaur embryos and eggs, and even a huge 2.5 metre model dinosaur nest! Visit our What’s On page for more information.


What's all this dinosaur havoc going on around Cardiff City Centre?

Who (or what?!) damaged our newly erected statue of Thomas H Thomas and is causing mayhem on the streets of Cardiff?!

If you spot any monstrous goings-on or dino-mischief around Cardiff then please let us know over on Twitter using the hashtag #DinoOnTheLoose.

This is an unfolding story - updates will be brought to you as we become aware of them.

Follow the story: #DinoOnTheLoose

Artist Catrin Llwyd worked with National Museum Cardiff's Youth Forum to discuss the amazing Gillian Ayres exhibition. The group experimented with using paint in different ways - thinking about texture and colour and trying to paint without using a brush!

First of all though we wanted the group to look at Gillian Ayres' paintings in detail, so we spent quite a bit of time discussing her work and coming up with words that described the paintings or words that described our thoughts and feelings when looking at the paintings.

I loved some of the words and thoughts they came up with - put together some of them are like cut-up poems.

Movement, nature, feeling, loud, childish?, texture, grafitti, complex.

Hills by the sea, Stream by rocks, colours of fields, washing in the stream, trees at night, enter the party, spice the reaped veggies.

Bodily Void, tacit, bold, rhythmic, encompassing.

Broad in strokes - almost dramatically, serene in a simple context, could it be based on some musical tune?

Painting, emulates, colour, palette

The shapes and colours have caught my interest.

Biology, nature, microbes, petri dishes, flowers,  oil spill, slick, leech, leak

Swish, stroke, splash, squiggle, swoosh, colour, video games, fireworks, graffiti, rivers, tripipy, unconstrained, free, flowing, flowers, fields, libearl, splodge, neon, bold, trees, sheep, bright, colourful, kaleidoscopic, happy, uplifting, free.