Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum Wales

Home

In September 2016 Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales will again be participating in Open Doors, an event organised by Cadw (the Welsh Government’s historic environment service). The idea behind the event is to offer people the opportunity to visit a variety of sites important to the culture and history of Wales. The highlight of the event is the opportunity to visit places that are not normally, or are infrequently, open to the public.

The National Collections Centre, Nantgarw, is part of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, and houses thousands of interesting and important objects that are not on display. Although not normally open to the general public we have always offered access to researchers, and also to various groups and societies. Staff at the National Collections Centre have always seen the importance of opening up the site to allow visitors access to view some of these objects and to see the work that is carried out by staff on site.

We are always looking for new ways to get visitors on site, to encourage people to learn about what we do, and provide more access to the collections in store. Therefore we have decided to repeat last year’s success and get involved in Open Doors again. This year we will be open on two days as part of Open Doors, on Wednesday 7th September and Thursday 29th September 2016. There will be five tours on each day at 10.00, 11.00, 12.00, 2.00 and 3.00. Each tour will last about 45 minutes and visitors will be able to take a closer look at some of the collections held on site, and find out about the work of staff based here.

Booking is essential for these tours. Please ring us on 029 2057 3560 or 029 2057 3583 to book a place, or find out further information. You can also email us on industry@museumwales.ac.uk

Further details can be found on the Cadw website, as well as details of all other places open as part of Open Doors.

We hope as many people as possible will be able to enjoy the tours and be able to see some of the amazing objects preserved by Amgueddfa Cymru for the people of Wales.

Over the summer we are working with ACE Action Ely Caerau (Communities First) to put together a series of fun and accessible family workshops and activities for local families. The programme was developed ahead of time with ACE and includes sessions such as:

Traditional Toys

Wash Day with Beti Bwt

Rag Rug Making

Life in the Iron Age

Pond Dipping

Pottery

So far we have had lots of fun making rag rugs, learning about and playing with traditional toys, discovering what life was like for our ancestors living in the Iron Age and experiencing what it was like to go to school in Victorian Wales.

Making Rag Rugs

Toys Workshop collage created by a parent

Making Rag Rugs

 

Toys Workshop

Making Rag Rugs

Making Rag Rugs

Here’s a snap shot of some of the feedback from the children and parents who have come along

“I love it here and I had fun.”

“Had a really enjoyable afternoon, learning to make rag rugs. Very interesting. Will definitely carry this on. Thank you to all concerned.”

Rag Rug workshop feedback tree

“I really enjoyed playing with the toys.”

“I've learnt lots!”

"I thought it was very fun, but I would not want to go to school in Victoria times."

There are still lots more sessions to come so follow this blog to learn how the rest of the summer goes!

This week we have also started a new programme of exciting storytelling, reading and activity workshops with Cardiff Libraries. These are open to everyone and will be taking place on Monday’s and Wednesday’s at St Fagans until 24th August so why not come along next time!

If you are interested in taking part in other similar family activities and events at St Fagans over the summer there are lots of opportunities to get involved, just check our What’s On guide for more information.

Did you know that an exhibition of sculpture for the blind was held at National Museum Cardiff in 1980?

Neither did I until a colleague of mine mentioned it recently. Intrigued, I did some digging to find out more.

The exhibition was the first of its kind in the Museum. It brought together 10 sculptures of different materials and textures which blind and visually impaired visitors were invited to touch. Rodin's 'Illusions Fallen to Earth', and Frederic Leighton's 'Needless Alarm', which shows a nude female figure startled by a frog, were among the works on display.

To protect the works, a thin layer of burnished wax was applied and visitors wore gloves with the fingertips cut off to reduce the risk of damage from rings or watches. It would be interesting to know what conservators today would advise!

Rubber mats and carpets were used to help lead visitors to the plinths, and the Museum's Friends were on hand to guide visitors around and engage them in conversation about the works.

To complement the exhibition and add a multisensory dimension there was also a display of seasonal scented plants and spices from the Botany collection!

Even though this exhibition was held almost 40 years ago, it is interesting how little has changed. All of the challenges they faced back then – how to strike a balance between conservation and accessibility, how to help orientate visitors, and introducing a multi-sensory element – are ones we’ve been thinking about recently.

We haven’t got a new exhibition planned (although it’s something to think about for the future!), but we have been working with members of Cardiff Institute for the Blind on a series of audio description tours. These tours will be offered to blind and visually impaired visitors starting this October.

Since the launch of the Quentin Blake exhibition our inbox has been filling up, and the phone hasn’t stopped with fellow Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake superfans wanting to know more about what's going on. Everyone wants to get involved! So I thought I’d share a little bit of what’s been happening so far.

The Exhibition

People have been coming along to draw in the gallery and already our wall is bursting with wonderful drawings.

Two images of drawings hanging from bull dog clips.

A colection of drawings by childeren of on colourfull paper.

Want to join in?  https://museum.wales/cardiff/whatson/8916/Quentin-Blake-Inside-Stories/

Activity Booklet

Our activity booklets have been flying out and the competition entries have been coming in thick and fast!

A collection of drawings that where entered in to the compertition.

To draw your way around the museum and take part in the competition, just pop in to the Clore Discovery centre to get your very own booklet https://museum.wales/cardiff/clore/

Family Workshop 

Families have been making some really nice little storybooks of their very own.  

Two pages from a story zin book that was made in a workshop.
Two pages froma sory zine book made in a workshop.

 

Teachers

We have a teacher's pack in both Welsh and English that will help you explore the exhibition with your class - https://museum.wales/media/38707/QB-FINAL.pdf  

Cymraeg - https://amgueddfa.cymru/media/38708/QB-FINAL-cy.pdf

If you would like to bring your class to the museum all the information you need about booking is available at - https://museum.wales/cardiff/learning/booking_information/

As usual in this monthly blog post I’d like to share with you some of the objects that have recently been added to the industry and transport collections.

The first object this month is a photograph that shows the first ever rally of the Welsh Automobile Club. This was held at Bracelet Bay (a small bay close to Swansea near Mumbles Head) on 3rd December, probably in 1906 though we are not sure of the year. Can anyone help? The photograph was taken by W. Richards (late W.C. Roberts) of 16 & 17 Castle Street, Swansea.

The Welsh Automobile Club was founded in about June 1904. The Western Mail of the 4th June 1904 reported “At last Welsh motor-cyclists have decided to form a club. I have just received details of a new organisation which is to be known as the Welsh Automobile Club. It intends to recruit its members from all parts of Wales, and has, I believe, a very representative committee… The club intends holding its meetings in all the chief towns of Wales… The organisation will be affiliated to the Motor Union and associated with the Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland.”

In 1905 it had a membership of 99 people.

First rally of the Welsh Automobile Club, Bracelet Bay, Mumbles.

 

This natural abrasive stone was used to grind/polish tinplate hand rolling mills. Roll turning, grinding and polishing were highly skilled crafts crucial to the working of iron, steel, tinplate and non-ferrous rolling mills. Little is recorded of these crafts, and so this stone is important in representing this important craft. Note that the metal frameworks that supported the stones have long since been scrapped as the last sheet hand mills in Wales closed in the mid-1960s. The stone was obtained by the donor during his employment in Player’s Tinplate Works, Clydach, in the early 1950s.

Natural abrasive stone was used to grind/polish tinplate hand rolling mills.

As stated in previous blog posts, Amgueddfa Cymru holds by far the largest and wide-ranging Welsh-interest share certificate collection held by any public museum. This month we have added to this collection a share certificate for the Mawddach Gold Dredging Syndicate Ltd., dated 1896. This concern undertook the only significant attempts to search for the considerable quantities of gold that would have been washed down into the Mawddach Estaury by both natural weathering processes and during nineteenth century mining operations.

Share certificate for the Mawddach Gold Dredging Syndicate Ltd., 1896.

This month, we were donated a hot metal forme which was used to print the front page of Western Mail newspaper on Saturday 2 February 1980. This was the last edition to be printed using this technology.

The forme is made of Linotype 'slugs' of type (cast from a lead-tin-antimony alloy), and plastic 'line blocks' reproducing images, within a steel ‘chase’ [frame]. The formes were usually ‘broken-up’ (i.e. dismantled) after being used, this one being kept for its historic significance. Thus a forme, although crucial to the production of a newspaper, had only a transitory existence of a few hours. This technology was in use from about the 1890s to the 1980s.

The next edition of both the Western Mail (and its sister paper the South Wales Echo) printed two days later on Monday 4 February marked the transition from this 'hot metal' process (both the slugs produced by the Linotype machines and the steroplates were cast using molten type metal) to photo typesetting, offset lithographic printing, and electronic / desk-top page composition.

The two images show the final page of the Western Mail using the last forme. The second images is an article from the South Wales Echo concerning the change over, and showing the work in process..

Front page of the Western Mail for 2nd February 1980.

Article from the South Wales Echo, 4th February 1980.

 

Finally this month we were donated a lamp recovered from the Albion Colliery explosion of 1894.  Inside the lamp was found a letter dated 1928 relating to the South Wales Coal Miners' Hinder March. Full details can be found in this article.

 

Mark Etheridge
Curator: Industry & Transport
Follow us on Twitter - @IndustryACNMW