Amgueddfa Blog

A technology first for UK museum

This week sees the launch of Museum ExplorAR; a brand new experience at National Museum Cardiff, bringing some state-of-the-art (and never seen before) technology into our galleries allowing you to witness our spaces as never before.

Using a handheld device available to hire from the shop you can explore the following self-led experiences:

  • Underwater life:  See our collection of sea creatures come to life in the Marine Gallery, be awed by our humpback whale as it would have looked swimming in the ocean... but watch out for the shark!

  • Monet’s Waterlily Garden: Explore the inspiration for Monet’s waterlilies in our Impressionist Gallery. Look out for Monet, and the Davies Sister who collected most of what you see in the gallery.

  • Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Creatures: Discover the lives of dinosaurs from 220 million years ago; see their skeletons brought to life and swim with the prehistoric creatures that once swam in our seas.

The project has been developed as a pilot in order for us to evaluate how we best approach and employ new and emerging technologies in our Museum spaces. Our permanent galleries may have been static for some years, but augmented reality can offer new and exciting opportunities to refresh narratives and explore new storylines in our Museums.

At this stage, we envision the devices to be available for hire for about 20 weeks over which time we will be evaluating popularity, ease of use, navigation, interpretative approach and overall enjoyment. A huge bonus of the system is despite the experiences offering a geographically aware tour, there is no requirement for any connectivity or data transfer requirements (i.e. we are not dependant on WiFi or networks), overcoming many connectivity obstacles in a complex and busy public space.

As this coincides with our Kizuna exhibition, Museum ExplorAR is available for you in three languages: Welsh, English and Japanese.

Top of the range graphics

The experience has been developed by Jam Creative Studios, an innovative, creative agency based in Cowbridge, south Wales. Thanks to their hard work and hours of dedication, they have delivered us a superb (yes, I am biased) new technology that offers a perfect synergy between exhibition interpretation and amazing jaw-dropping graphics and effects. They have come up with new and novel ways to showcase some of our most difficult-to-interpret collections - for instance our pavement of dinosaur footprints from south Wales where most visitors are unable to make sense of the plethora of footprints going in all different directions. Jam Creative Studios have skilfully isolated and superimposed these dinosaur trackways for us to be able to witness clearly the marks made by these extinct creatures.

What is Augmented Reality (AR)

AR, or Augmented Reality allows people to use (typically) a handheld device to view superimposed content onto the scene before them. The benefits of this technology is that you are able to experience the effects only when looking at the screen you are holding, thus still being able to interact fully with the real world around you. You may have heard of VR (Virtual Reality) which is a technology that is completely immersive and requires a full headset, cut off from the real world. We have chosen augmented reality, obviously as our visitors are walking around the gallery, we don’t want them blind to their surroundings, or each other!

This approach also means families or groups can share the experience together, something initial feedback confirms

Amgueddfa Cymru are proud to be the first place to showcase this augmented reality technology. 

The system uses a combination of area learning with augmented reality. Essentially it means that, rather than having to rely on traditional AR triggering methods (such as image tracking within your camera view or markerless AR-which requires the user to place their own virtual content within a scene) the ExplorAR can tell exactly where the user is within the gallery and can trigger appropriate content accordingly. This makes for a much more immersive experience giving users the freedom to explore all around the virtual content with no restrictions. It’s also really intuitive to use.

Testing and Evaluation

Evaluation will be key factor of the pilot, with a survey built in at the end of each tour. In addition to qualitative evaluation, this technology allows for detailed analytics on its usage, including such things as: Visitor flow, dwell time for each exhibit, most popular exhibits and average visit duration.
 
We will test and seek comprehensive feedback with a variety of users and groups, with advice from the Learning Department to gain feedback on content approach and overall concept design. We will also review our internal workflows and lessons learnt from delivering such a project, helping build a knowledge base for the organisation on best practices for future technologies we may wish to implement.

This is just the beginning...

The launch of Museum ExplorAR is the start of our investigations into how best we employ technology into our public spaces. We will be using visitor feedback to analyse where we go from here, of course the possibilities are endless, so before we go any further we need first hand accounts of what you, our visitors like, want, and expect, before we develop anything further.

Come and give it a go and let us know what you think, but remember, you saw it here first!

Plan your visit

Sut beth oedd Cymraeg Caerdydd yn y gorffennol? Dylan Foster Evans sy'n trafod lleisiau coll ein prifddinas:

 

Wrth bori mewn papurau newydd o ddiwedd y bedwaredd ganrif ar bymtheg, fe welwch fod trafod o dro i dro ar ddiflaniad Cymry Cymraeg ‘brodorol’ Caerdydd.

Roedd gan y dref yr adeg honno ei ffurf ei hun ar y Wenhwyseg, y dafodiaith leol draddodiadol. Ond er bod niferoedd siaradwyr Cymraeg Caerdydd ar gynnydd, llai a llai a siaradai hen dafodiaith Gymraeg Caerdydd. Mae’n destun rhyfeddod, felly, ein bod ni heddiw yn gallu gwrando ar leisiau’r to olaf o unigolion a fagwyd yn siarad y Wenhwyseg leol yn y Gaerdydd bresennol neu’n agos iawn ati.

 

Mae gwrando arnynt yn brofiad sy’n gofyn am ychydig o ymdrech ar ein rhan. Ar adegau, waeth cyfaddef ddim, mae rhyw afrwyddineb yn nodweddu geiriau rhai o’r siaradwyr olaf hyn. Nid niwsans mo hynny, chwaith, ond rhywbeth sy’n gwbl, gwbl greiddiol i’r profiad. Hen bobl yw’r rhain ac mae olion y degawdau i’w clywed ar eu lleisiau.

Ac yn achos sawl un, nhw yw siaradwyr Cymraeg olaf y llinach. Mae eu perthynas â’r iaith wedi breuo o flwyddyn i flwyddyn ac o ddegawd i ddegawd.

Ond yn yr afrwyddineb hwnnw — ac yn wir yn eu Saesneg — y daw eu profiadau’n fyw.

Dyna lle clywn ôl addysg a anwybyddai’r Gymraeg; dyna lle clywn effaith diffyg trosglwyddo rhwng cenedlaethau; a dyna lle’r ymdeimlwn â realiti shifft ieithyddol. Ond er gwaethaf hynny oll, mae yma wir brydferthwch.

 

Enwau'r ddinas - o Blwyf Mair i Lanetarn

Y cynharaf ohonynt yw Edward Watts (1840–1935) o Landdunwyd ym Mro Morgannwg. Fe’i recordiwyd pan oedd yn hynafgwr dros ei ddeg a phedwar ugain.

Cofiai ymweld â Chaerdydd tua chanol y bedwaredd ganrif ar bymtheg ac wrth sôn am safle hen neuadd y dref yn ‘Plwyf Mair’ mae’n cofnodi elfen o ddaearyddiaeth Gymraeg Caerdydd sydd bellach wedi ei cholli.   

A dyna chi Tom Lewis y ‘trychwr’ o ‘Rwbina’ (nid ‘o Riwbeina’ fel y dywedai llawer ohonom heddiw).

A’r Husbands — cynnyrch cymuned amaethyddol Llanishan, Llys-fæ̂n a Llanetarn, chwedl hwythau (ond Llanisien, Llys-faen a Llanedern i ni, debyg iawn).

Caerdydd wahanol iawn oedd Caerdydd llawer o’r lleisiau hyn. Ond hebddyn nhw a’u tebyg, gwahanol iawn fyddai ein Caerdydd ninnau.

 

 

Gyda diolch i Beth Thomas, Meinwen Ruddock-Jones a Pascal Lafargue. Am ragor o hanes y Gymraeg yng Nghaerdydd, dilynwch @CymraegCaerdydd a @diferionDFE - ac am ragor o Archif Sain Ffagan, dilynwch @ArchifSFArchive

Bydd arddangosfa o hanes Trebiwt, y Bae a Chaerdydd i'w gweld yn Y Lle Hanes trwy gydol yr Eisteddfod.

This week, we are bringing an iconic collection to Wales: a very rare example of Welsh Suffragette memorabilia, which once belonged to activist Kate Williams Evans.

black and white photo of a woman wearing a jacket, standing next to a dog
Kate Williams Evans, Suffragette
[Photo: Catherine Southon Auctioneers]

Kate Williams Evans - from mid Wales to Holloway Prison

Born in Llansanffraid in 1866, Kate Williams Evans travelled to Paris as a young woman, where she developed a keen interest in politics. On returning to Wales, she joined the Women’s Social and Political Union – and, against her parents’ wishes, she became a suffragette.

On 4 March 1912, she was arrested and charged with ‘Malicious Damage’, and ultimately spent 54 days in Holloway prison. The collection contains letters which graphically illustrate the conditions in Holloway, and provides details about Kate’s hunger strike and the force-feeding she endured.

Hunger Strikes and Force-Feeding

photo showing medal on a purple, white and green ribbon, which reads 'Hunger Strike' on the front, and 'Kate Evans' on the back
Kate Evans' Hunger Strike Medal
[Photo: Catherine Southon Auctioneers]

Hunger-striking women were routinely restrained and force-fed by prison authorities – a practice which became a powerful propaganda tool for the suffragettes. The collection acquired by Amgueddfa Cymru includes an extremely rare Suffragette Hunger Strike Medal, given to Kate as an acknowledgement of the treatment she received in prison.

Only 100 Hunger Strike medals are known to exist – this is the only one thought to have been awarded to a Welsh Suffragette. The medal, along with Evans’ collection of letters and photographs, is of national importance – and will become part of Wales’ national collection.

The Centenary and Beyond - Telling Wales' Story

It has been ninety years since all women gained the right to vote, and the Centenary of the Representation of the People Act – which allowed some women to vote – has allowed us to revisit our suffrage collections.

photo of embroided banner with a red dragon and the words 'cardiff and district' and 'tros rhyddid'
Banner of the Cardiff Cardiff & District Women's Suffrage Society. Made by Rose Mabel Lewis, President of the Society

The national collection holds many items from the history of law-abiding suffragists, including their iconic banners. Until today, the story of militant suffragettes from Wales was missing from the picture – these items very rarely come up for auction and so this has been a very exciting acquisition. It means we can now tell a more inclusive story, which is both personal and national.

Making History at St Fagans

With new galleries due to open at St Fagans National Museum of History in October this year, and improved research facilities in the Weston Centre for Learning, it is a timely and significant addition to Wales’ national collections.

photo of HLF and ACNMW staff inspecting an object in a new gallery
The new galleries at St Fagans will be opening in October

The new galleries are part of a major redevelopment project – the biggest in the history of St Fagans - which has been realised thanks to substantial funding raised by players of the National Lottery, the Welsh Government and other supporters.

 

 

Plastic lasts for generations. The National Museum Cardiff Youth Forum and other youth groups across Wales are raising awareness of its disastrous effect on nature, by dumping plastic waste in the marine galleries at National Museum Cardiff.

 

"We want to use the museum to send out a message: Everyone needs to do more to fight pollution." a No Môr Plastic spokesperson said

 

The mountain of sea plastic was collected over the summer from beaches between Porthcawl and Ogmore, in south-east Wales.

 

a pile of waste plastic on a tarpaulin
Another plastic delivery arrives at the museum

Surfers Against Sewage have been campaigning for the protection of coastlines and marine life since 1990, and regularly host beach cleans. According to Alun Moseley, activist and surfer:

 

"I've been surfing for a long time, and I've certainly seen an increase in the amount of sea pollution over the last few years. The type of waste has changed too - a lot more surfers are getting sick.

But there's also been an increase in interest - people wanting to know more about what they can do, especially young people. That's why this intervention is a strong step forward: young people will inherit this situation - and it's not fair"

 

No Môr Plastic can be seen in National Museum Cardiff from 31 July until August 5

 

No Môr Plastic is part of the Kick the Dust project. We will continue working with young people to make space for activism in the museum. If you'd like to take part, contact us.

What's the Project all about?

“Saving Treasures; Telling Stories” is an all-Wales Project about bringing archaeology to life and enabling community engagement.

It is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and administered by Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales in partnership with the Federation of Museums and Galleries in Wales and the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Wales.

At Powysland Museum the project takes as its starting point the existing collections of archaeological jewellery in the three local authority museums in Powys: Powysland Museum in Welshpool, Radnorshire Museum in Llandrindod Wells and Brecknock Museum and Art Gallery in Brecon.

Some of the objects have been acquired by the museums as recent treasure finds, while others have been in the collections for several years.

What is Powysland Museum doing?

The project encompasses:

  • a temporary exhibition on archaeological jewellery from the museums in Powys.
  • engagement with a number of community groups in story-writing sessions, art and jewellery workshops and research inspired by the artefacts and their stories, to be displayed in the exhibition.
  • art and craft activities, “finds open days” and other events for a wider audience during the exhibition period.

Community Partners

The museum has been working with a number of partners to deliver the promised outcomes, such as Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust, the poet and writer Pat Edwards and the artist Andrew Logan.


The community partners have included Welshpool High School’s Art department, Buttington-Trewern Primary School, Welshpool Camera Club, Llanfair-Caereinion Historical Society, Welshpool Young Carers and Welshpool Kaleidoscope group.

Working with Welshpool Poetry Festival


One of the bonuses of having Pat Edwards involved in the project was that she transferred the idea of archaeological jewellery to the annual Welshpool Poetry Festival, of which she is the founder and the organiser.
 
Every year the poetry festival holds a competition and this year’s theme was ‘jewels’. For the ‘Young People’s Poetry Competition (Ages 7-14) the winners were:

  • First Prize – ‘My Jewel’ by Nancy Gargiulo from Criftins Primary School
  • Second Prize – ‘Jewel’ by Lila Melnykevicova
  • Third Prize – ‘Silver’ by Maisie from Berriew School

Powysland museum is delighted to be able to display these poems and others along with their Saving Treasures-funded Archaeological Jewellery exhibition.