Amgueddfa Blog

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 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

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?


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.


The first dinosaur footprints found anywhere in Europe

One sunny evening in September 1878, Welsh artist and naturalist Thomas Henry Thomas was wandering around the small village of Nottage, just outside Porthcawl. The rays of the setting sun were shining across a large slab of rock placed on the edge of the churchyard. The local villagers told him that the five strange markings on the rock were the footprints of the devil as he strode across the slab. The rock had lain between the church and the village pub for years, and was a local curiosity.

Thomas was a well-educated man, born in Pontypool in 1839, and had studied Art at the Royal Academy, before returning to Wales. He was a key member of the Cardiff Naturalists Society, and a well-respected artist as well. On discovering the footprints, illuminated by the setting sun in the churchyard, he was struck by the similarity between these markings and newly found dinosaur footprints in North America. He quickly sketched the prints and informed various local geologists. John Storrie, curator of the Cardiff Museum, visited the site and made a cast of the trackway.

The President of the Cardiff Naturalists Society was Colonel Turbervill, who arranged for the rock to be brought to the Cardiff Museum for safe-keeping.

Thomas H. Thomas wrote a short paper, in January 1879, describing the footprints and also his attempts at Bristol Zoo, to persuade a suspicious Emu to walk across modelling clay, for comparison! He described the footprints as "Tridactyl Uniserial Ichnolites", but left it to Professor W Sollas of Bristol University to publish a formal description, with the name Brontozoum thomasi. We now know that these footprints were made 220 million years ago by a medium-sized meat-eating dinosaur, similar to Megalosaurus which evolved later.

The original footprint slab was around 6' 6" long and 5' 6" wide, and about 6 inches thick, although excess rock was later removed to make it easier to handle and display. When the collections of the old Cardiff Museum were transferred to the new National Museum of Wales in 1907, the footprints were one of its most important acquisitions. Currently the fossil is on display in the Evolution of Wales gallery, as befitting the first dinosaur footprints found anywhere in Europe.

Wales has an important place in the evolutionary history of dinosaurs; not only this early set of footprints, but also another major trackway site near the town of Barry, which is one of the most significant sites of its age in Europe. The rocks of this area were laid down around 220 million years ago, at a time when Wales was a low-lying desert, similar to those in the Arabian Gulf today, and dinosaurs had just evolved. Over the next 20 million years, the sea-level rose and the deserts disappeared underwater. However the dinosaurs living on higher ground continued to diversify into different species, one of which was Dracoraptor, the small theropod dinosaur found near to Penarth in 2014, and now on display at the National Museum Cardiff.