Amgueddfa Blog

This winter at National Museum Cardiff, visitors can get close to a genuine spaceship. The Soyuz TMA-19M capsule, the spacecraft that brought British astronaut Tim Peake back to Earth from the International Space Station, has crash landed in our gallery. The free exhibition is part of a national tour presented by global technology company Samsung and the Science Museum Group.

In association with the exhibition, several lucky secondary schools from across south Wales experienced an exciting science show from the Science Museum Outreach team. The Soyuz Rocket Show combined interactive science demonstrations with stunning visuals to explore the physics of rockets and Tim Peake’s spacecraft.

Beginning with take-off in the Vostok Rocket, the show took students along on Tim Peake’s journey to space. They experienced everything, including docking on the ISS and life aboard. Finally it discussed the perilous re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere (which you can learn more about in the exhibition’s Space Descent Virtual Reality Experience). The demonstrations included rockets made from Pringles tubes, screaming jelly babies, dry ice clouds and liquid nitrogen ice cream. And of course explosions. Lots of explosions.

A few weeks later, the schools visited the museum to see the spacecraft itself. They also took part in workshops that explored different elements of space travel. Cardiff University School of Computer Science and Informatics delivered coding workshops using Scratch, while AstroCymru put pupils through their paces by testing skills required to be an astronaut. Finally, we did a session on spacesuit engineering, which developed ways to protect astronauts from both harmful UV radiation and the call of nature! One lucky school even got to meet real-life astronaut Steven Swanson, a retired commander of the ISS.

We hope these experiences will inspire the next generation of physicists, engineers and astronauts. Let's hope that soon we will have Welsh astronauts following Tim into space!

The Tim Peake's Spacecraft exhibition runs until 10th February. Admission is free, Space Descent Virtual Reality Experience costs £6.

Cultural heritage collections need a friendly home. 'Friendly' means: a building that protects the collection from the elements – wind, sun and rain. Conservators worry a lot - and rightly so - about pigments fading when they are exposed to light, about stuffed animals being eaten by insect pests, about wartime medals corroding because of the presence of air pollutants. But it’s no good having a fantastic pest management system if the roof leaks. Getting the basics right makes the job of the conservator an awful lot easier and is better for the collection.

Like many museums up and down the country, National Museum Cardiff is housed in a historic building. The museum contains 30 public galleries and 50 collection stores which accommodate almost 3 million objects. This is only part of the national heritage collection of Wales and arguably something we want to protect for the benefit of current and future generations.

But being in a historic building, as beautiful as it is, has its challenges. Much of the building infrastructure is aging and needs modernising. Our roof needs some tlc. Our air conditioning systems are so old, there is nobody left in the museum who was around when they were first installed. And the electrics in parts of the building are not far from receiving a birthday telegram from Her Majesty the Queen.

All of those issues are a problem not just for visitors and staff, but also for the collections. Therefore, we have started modernising our museum building. In the past few years we already had parts of our roof replaced. Less publicly visible was the recent replacement of the electrical infrastructure in the west wing. We are now in the process of undertaking much more work to improve the building.

Some of this work will happen behind closed doors: replacement of our chillers and humidifiers with new, modern and efficient technology, making the museum leaner and greener. Other work will be more obvious to our visitors, including works to the roof of our south wing. Various works will require the temporary closure of some of our public galleries – please bear with us during this time, we are keeping the rest of the museum open and, once the works are completed, all galleries will be accessible again.

One difficulty remains: once all the works are completed the museum will look like nothing ever happened – we do not have a brand new building to show off for all our efforts. BUT the building will feel and operate differently. It will form a more reliable envelope around our collections. It will require less maintenance, saving us money and staff time. It will be more energy efficient and environmentally friendly, reducing our energy bills and forming a substantial contribution towards lowering our greenhouse gas emissions.

During this time of potential disruptions please bear in mind the end product, which will include a better museum experience for visitors today (well, next year) and in the future. And a building that continues to help us look after Wales’ national collection.

Should you have any questions at all about our refurbishment programme in relation to the collections, please do get in touch. We will be happy to assist in any way we can.

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

We have been working with Cardiff University to include memories and photographs shared through local Facebook groups in displays around Wales, a really fascinating project to be involved with.

In this fresh interpretation, we not only present captivating scenes and events experienced within living memory in the local area, but also ask our visitors to share their own stories.

I would urge visitors to come along to Wrexham Library from this Saturday (1 December) and see some intriguing and moving scenes and events experienced within living memory in the local area.

The display will then move to the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea on 8 December 2018.

At both locations, we will be encouraging visitors to share their stories and memories of the area with us.

Another way of doing this is through People’s Collection Wales.

Hope to hear your story soon!

Hello Bulb Buddies,

Thank you for all the work you have done so far and for sharing your photos! It was extremely hard to choose just five winners. The chosen photos are from schools in Wales who are not participating in the Edina extension projects. If you are participating in the Edina Trust extension projects then your photos were entered into their photo competition.

Here are the winning schools:

Llanyrafon Primary School

Peterston Super Ely CiW Primary School

St Philip Evans Catholic Primary

Ysgol Gymraeg Aberystwyth

Ysgol Llandwrog

Your prizes will be posted to you soon. Well done Bulb Buddies.

I’d like to send a big thank you to all the schools that have shared photos with us. It has been lovely to see the work that you have been doing, so please continue to share your photos! I will use these in my Blog posts over the coming weeks.

Keep up the good work Bulb Buddies!

Professor Plant

December is a great opportunity for us as an organisation to say thank you to National Lottery players for your generous contributions which help us enormously with our work on a daily basis.

The first 20 national lottery players to visit one of our national museums between 3 and 9 December 2018 will get a free gift made up from goodies at our shops!

St Fagans National Museum of History; National Museum Cardiff; National Waterfront Museum, Swansea; Big Pit National Coal Museum; National Wool Museum, Drefach Felindre; National Slate Museum, Llanberis will all be participating.

Please present your ticket at the museum shop.

As soon as the 20 free gifts have gone, we will make an announcement via our social media channels.

St Fagans has benefited recently from National Lottery funding. We were awarded £11.5m in 2012 to begin the redevelopment of the Museum, the biggest grant ever to be awarded in Wales from the Heritage Lottery Fund. 

Thanks to the generous contributions of National Lottery players, over 3,000 volunteers and 120 community organisations, street charities and local groups from all over Wales contributed to the £30m redevelopment of the Museum.

Taking part in the #ThankstoYou initiative is just one way we can say thank you to the National Lottery and Lottery players.

 Terms and conditions:

●     Please present one National Lottery ticket to claim your free gift at St Fagans National Museum of History; National Museum Cardiff; National Waterfront Museum, Swansea; Big Pit National Coal Museum; National Wool Museum, Drefach Felindre; or National Slate Museum, Llanberis

●     All National Lottery games qualify for the free gift. Proof of purchase of a National Lottery game can be either a hard copy ticket or a digital ticket.

●     The offer is valid from 3 – 9 December 2018 until all 20 free gifts at each museum have been given out.

●     In the event of queries on the day, the manager’s decision is final.