Amgueddfa Blog

It’s no secret that Dippy the Dinosaur has been at the National Museum Cardiff for a couple of weeks; mostly because he’s very hard to miss. The good news is he won’t be lacking in company over the next few months. In this video, we explain how Dippy came to be the world’s most famous cast of a dinosaur skeleton and how he fits in to a wider exhibition at National Museum Cardiff.


Music: "Colossus" by Kevin MacLeod (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

I began volunteering for Amgueddfa Cymru while I was studying at Cardiff University. I took part in a Family Learning Placement with the Learning Department in The National Museum Cardiff. I had already decided that I wanted to work in the Museum Sector and I was already pretty certain that I wanted to work in museum learning from volunteering at other organisations.

The aim of the placement was to create and deliver drop-in craft activities for the summer holidays. Although I had volunteered in other museums, this placement allowed me to develop new skills and showed me the diverse jobs done by a Museum Educator.

In pervious volunteer roles, I had facilitated activities for school groups before but never designed them. This placement gave me the opportunity to create activities. I also had the opportunity to look around some of the stores, meet the Curators and learn about preventative conservation.

This placement was great because it gave us clear learning objectives and an outcome. We had organised sessions, which taught us about designing family activities and gave us the chance to try out the activities the Museum already had.

Volunteering with Amgueddfa Cymru helped me develop skills, which I still use today as an Education Officer. It was my first glimpse into the diversity of the work of a Museum Educator and I have spoken about it a lot during interviews.

I now work in the Egypt Centre: Museum of Egyptian Antiquities as the Education and Events Officer. I organise and run the Museum’s Learning Programme.

Follow me on twitter @H_Sweetapple @TheEgyptCentre

With light and warm days of Summer being now a sweet memory we invite Autumn in with all its glory and grandeur. The leaves of the trees turning gold, orange and red create a feeling of warmth within comforting us and adapting our minds to the colder months ahead.

This year has been particularly different to me. I have been spending more days outdoors working in the garden, going for walks and being close to nature. This lifestyle change has been so beneficial both physically and mentally that I now welcome Autumn with different eyes. I remember when I used to dread this time of the year and would close myself into my cocoon thinking why don’t humans hibernate? But Autumn has so much to offer if we only challenge ourselves to spend more time in contact with nature.

The crispness of the air, the fallen leaves on the floor, the golden hues of the trees and the soft and delicate light can be only appreciated if we venture ourselves out of our comfort zones.

The St. Fagans Museum is a wonderful place to visit at this time of the year. The magnificent variety of trees changing colour and creating a crunchy carpet of leaves is the perfect invitation for a long walk.

There is one garden located on the terraced path near the ponds that was specifically designed with Autumn colours in mind. There you can find the bright red Euonymus alatus known as “Winged Spindle” or “Burning Bush”, the oriental Acer palmatum, the beautiful red berries of the Cotoneaster horizontalis and other amazing varieties in a beautiful display of colour. This garden is embraced by the gigantic Fern-leaved Beech (Fagus salvatica ‘Aspleniiflora’) one of the oldest trees planted in the Museum dating back to 1872.

If you enjoy gardening there are plenty of tasks that will keep you warm and busy at this time of the year. The joys of planting bulbs with great expectations for Spring or the meditative task of sweeping leaves and gathering them to make leaf mould. Also the perfect time for planting trees as they will have plenty of moisture available to get established.

So wrap up warm, get your wellies or winter boots on and explore the wonderful natural sites that bless the Welsh land.

In the mid-1960s Play School was one of the few programmes available for pre-school children.  In the middle of every show, you were transported through one of three windows, leaving the studio for somewhere exciting in the real world. I loved the programme and remember watching it at home on our rented black and white television. One day they showed us the Natural History Museum in London and the huge skeleton of an extinct creature – a Diplodocus.  This was the first time I had ever heard of fossils or dinosaurs, and I was amazed by what I was seeing.

A year or two later, my parents took me on a trip to London and the one thing I wanted to see was the Diplodocus.  Dippy did not disappoint and I spent all my pocket money on two postcards to stick into my scrapbook.

Fifty years on those old postcards are reunited with Dippy in Cardiff.  I wish I could say that seeing Dippy inspired me to become a palaeontologist, but back then I had no idea that was even possible. However, my visit did spark a lifelong interest in the natural world which led to me eventually becoming a palaeontologist at Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales.  I work on fossil bryozoans, small colonial marine animals – less obviously spectacular than dinosaurs but (I think) equally as fascinating.   Even so, I will always have an affection for Dippy.

Dr Caroline Buttler

Head of Palaeontology

A photo of Caroline Buttler's scrapbook
Dr Caroline Buttler with her scrapbook in National Museum Cardiff's main hall with Dippy in the background

Our conservation volunteers are helping once again to carve the traditional swede lanterns for Halloween. Each year we try and do more than the last so we’re aiming for 70 this year! Our gnarled little friends will be covering every available surface and hiding in every nook and cranny in Abernodwydd farm house this Halloween.

Pumpkins from America have now replaced the humble swede and turnip, but the story behind the Jack O Lanterns, as they were known, is definitely home grown.  To avoid going to Hell, a man called Stingy Jack believed he had out-witted the Devil with his tricks! But when Jack died his trickery back-fired and he ended up wondering the dark space between heaven and hell with only the light from his lantern for company.

It’s believed that Halloween is the time when the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest, so beware, Jack may be about!  But don’t worry the light from your own lantern will protect you.