Cymraeg

We used microscopes to search seabed samples for tiny animals

Working on the collections in the Natural Sciences Department of the National Museum Wales can be both enlightening and complex. Visiting from Bangor University for a week in Cardiff, we were involved with work in the invertebrate biodiversity section, in particular with bivalves and polychaetes. We were very privileged to gain lots of laboratory skills during this process and undertook a huge variety of tasks!

Worm hunting

We were got down to business with sorting a benthic survey sample from 2013 into Polychaeta, Mollusca, Crustacea and Echinodermata by investigating samples under the microscope. To our amazement, we found a big diversity of species just within the samples we looked through, finding everything from bristle worms to isopods! Later in the week we also took on the challenge of trying to identify the polychaete species we found, with some kind help from Teresa. Whilst it was challenging at first, we all became much better by the end and even managed to identify some just by their tails! Teresa also kindly showed us how polychaetes are photographed for publication and identification guides, which was very interesting – it takes a lot of patience and is quite fiddly but the final results are incredible!

A Serpulidae worm that we liberated from its rock!

Another aspect of the laboratory work included sorting some live polychaete samples brought in by Andy from a recent survey. This included smashing up some of the rocks to get to all the invertebrates hiding inside, a bit like cracking an Easter egg open! One of the most stunning specimens we found was of a Serpulidae worm, which at first was curled up with just the operculum visible, but after waiting patiently it uncurled into a beautiful fan-like structure!

 

Ensis - razor clams - from the Mollusca collections

Molluscs

Our work with bivalves began by sorting a collection donated by CCW - Countryside Council for Wales (now Natural Resources Wales) - originally collected by Bangor University back in the 50’s, and inputting the collection details onto the museum's digital database. However, obstacles were met along the way: some sections contained more than one label indicating that more than one species were in the same container, as well as the same species all from different places! But Anna kindly trained us up so we were able to organise shells into the correct species groups and off we went!  We sorted some beautiful shells, including razor clams! For some specimens, a light microscope was needed in order to see the most important features for identification. By using the British Bivalves online database, created by museum staff, we were able to ensure that the names of the shells were up to date.

While there we had an explore around the collection and came across some stunning shells, including a huge Triton shell, which is from a species of sea snail that preys on Crown-of-Thorns starfish! The mollusc collection at the museum contains lots of other shell bearing creatures such as limpets and snail-like shells, as well as books on molluscs dating all the way back to the 17th century that contain a wealth of knowledge, and are stored in a glass bookcase to protect them from the environment.

Chiselling rocks to find burrowing worms and bivalves

While the hands-on science occupied the majority of our time at the museum, we also got to explore the treasure trove of wonderful collections that is the Natural Sciences Department of the National Museum Wales. We started off with a behind the scenes tour of a variety of collections, from some containing thousands of shells to others with all the bee species in Britain! We can definitely say we never knew there were so many different species! We slowly explored a snippet of the wonders the museum holds, and the knowledge available from the specimens kept there and the staff who care for them (our 11 o’clock coffee breaks were a great time to discuss the ins and outs of curating a collection with museum staff, from seaweed – which you can press just like a flower! - to penguins and of course, worms!).

 

 

3D printing

Scanning a rodent skull using the 3D scanner

Our adventures behind the scenes didn’t stop there! While working on the collections we were lucky enough to have a go at 3D printing, which is a mesmerising process to behold. In addition to the printing we witnessed how the fantastic images you see on display in the museum gallery and within books and papers from the staff are created. A fine art of patience and care creates beautiful imagery of amazing detail. Our time at the museum was spent just prior to Christmas allowing us to join the wonderful museum carol service, which was held in the main hall and made up of members of the museum staff, all with amazing voices. As for Cardiff, it was our first time in this vibrant city for all three of us; the foods in Cardiff market are amazing and some of the restaurants are a must go – and of course ice skating in front of the beautiful collection of buildings, one of which is the museum (we didn’t fall over either)! 

 

The week we spent with the museum has given us an insight into how the amazing collections on display are put together, as well as gaining some hands-on science experience, and we will hopefully return again soon!

The printed result of the 3D scan!

Hi Bulb buddies,

I hope you had a lovely half term. We’ve had our first flower records in! Spring is really on the way now, with flowers in bloom! Please send in photos of your plants, your weather stations and any signs of spring!

I want to let you know about new teaching resources being launched through People’s Collection Wales. Peoples Collection Wales is a project and website funded by the Welsh Government and run in partnership between National Museum Wales, The National Library and The Royal Commission. The website is a platform for documenting the history of Wales and Welsh people. The site is a public resource, to which anyone can contribute, resulting in new items and previously unheard stories being shared for the first time.

The new Learn pages cater for teachers, providing clear guidelines on how to utilise the website to support the emerging Digital Competence Framework (DCF). There are help pages offering additional support around copyright, metadata and DCF. There are numerous ready-to-go teaching packs focussed on subjects that support the Welsh Curriculum. The extensive materials available for research enable different levels of engagement with the site, and the variety of media utilised ensures the content is varied and engaging.

Contributors to the site vary from Museums and National archives uploading their digitised collections, to individuals uploading their family histories and schools sharing projects they have produced in class.

The website itself is a fantastic resource for schools, and has been utilised to support of a variety of class projects. Here are some ideas on how your class could develop digital skills through utilising this site:

  • Use the site to research topics such as local history or famous Welsh people.
  • Create a profile so that your class can showcase their work by creating favourite lists and uploading items to create collections, stories and trails.
  • Upload your own teaching resources or learning plans to make the material available to others.
  • Explore the learn pages for innovative and engaging teaching resources that utilise the online material.
  • Check in to see what other schools have produced and be inspired.

Read our guidelines for approaching the Digital Competency Framework, and how engagement in the above activities meets this criteria.

Be inventive, there are a wealth of innovative ways to embrace digital media in the classroom. Let your class take the lead and put the material available on Peoples Collection Wales through its paces. There’s so much opportunity to be creative, and we’re excited to see what you come up with!

Training and support is available, please contact a member of the team if you’d like additional support or would like to suggest a collaborative project with Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales.

Llanharan Primary, who have participated in the Spring Bulbs for Schools Project since 2014, have produced a fantastic audio trail of their local area: https://www.peoplescollection.wales/collections/384915

Keep up the good work Bulb Buddies!

Professor Plant

 

The first few months of 2017 has already seen Amgueddfa Cymru acquiring some interesting additions to the industry and transport collections. As usual this month I’d like to show you some of the objects that have recently been added to these collections.

This red brick is inscribed Ynysddu Brick Co. It was found fly-tipped at ‘Cyfarthfa Willow Cinder Tip’, Merthyr Tydfil, a tip used by Ynysfach Ironworks from around the 1830s, until 1868 when construction of the Brecon & Merthyr Railway severed access to the tip.

The brick was manufactured at Ynysddu Brick Works, which was closer to Cwmfelinfach than to Ynysddu in the lower Sirhowy Valley, Monmouthshire. The works operated for a limited period in the early twentieth century, it was not shown on the 1899 OS map, and had been demolished by the time the 1948 OS map was surveyed. The works was connected by a three quarters of a mile long tramway to Wentloog / Yr Ochr Wyth Colliery, from where it probably obtained its coal, and clay or shale. Closure of the colliery in 1920 may have caused closure of the brickworks also.

This oil on board painting depicts a miner with a pit pony, and is titled ‘Pit Pals’. It was painted by William Salton in the 1970s. We believe the artist was an ex-miner, but don’t have any further details. If anyone can help with further information, please get in touch.

This photograph album contains 77 black and white photographs showing the construction and refurbishment works at the docks in Swansea, Port Talbot and Briton Ferry. The photographs date between 1927 and 1935.

We were also recently donated another photograph album. This one contains 92 photographs taken between 4th May and 6th June 1957. The photographs show the installation of 33kv package type switchgear at Cardiff Power Station.

As mentioned 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 three certificates to this collection

The first certificate is a Aberdaunant Lead Mining Co. Ltd. share certificate dated 31 March 1876. The company was registered in 1869 to reopen the ancient lead and zinc mine of the same name near Llanidloes, Montgomeryshire. The mine was worked on a modest scale until 1876 when it was abandoned, producing 150 tons of ore. Little was achieved in the first three or four years of the company’s existence and application was made in November 1872 to reduce its capital from £75,000 to £15,000 in 1872 following financial difficulties. Almost all recorded production occurred in 1873-75. Despite much development work, no further ore was produced and the mine closed in 1879. The shareholders resolved in 1879 to liquate the company but liquidation was not completed until 1898, and the company was struck off in 1902.

The next is a British Motor Corporation Ltd. share certificate dated 8 May 1965. The company was formed in 1952 to merge Austin and Morris motor vehicle production. Morris was the holding company that owned Nuffield which included MG, Riley and Wolseley. In 1965 BMC acquired the Pressed Steel Co. Ltd., a major body panel manufacturer previously part-owned by Morris. In 1966 BMC was renamed British Motor Holdings Ltd. and in 1968 merged with Leyland to form British Leyland. BMC owned a number of Welsh production plants and subsidiary companies, notably Morris Motors at Llanelli, and the Pressed Steel plant, also at Llanelli. Both were, and continue to be major employers.

The last certificate is a Carnarvonshire Great Consols Lead Mining Co. Ltd. share certificate dated 15 September 1884. The company was registered in 1881 to take over the operating of Llanrwst Lead- Zinc Mine. Work tailed off at the mine in 1883-84 and thereafter it was kept on care and maintenance until the extensive plant was auctioned off in 1887. The mine was not subsequently worked but was dewatered in the 20th century by the underlying Parc Mine and is now well-known for the rare exposure of nineteenth century pumping equipment in the shaft bottoms after over half a century beneath water.

This sculpture is titled The Crown Dragon / Y Ddraig Goron. It was made by the artist David Petersen in September 2011. It was commissioned by Crown Packaging UK Neath Works (former Metal Box Works) and made from can components manufactured at the works. The Metal Box Works at Neath was a major local employer with over 3,000 staff in its 1960s – 1970s peak, and as a manufacturer of tinplate can components was intimately connected with the deeply important Welsh steel and tinplate industries which supplied its raw materials. We are hoping to put The Crown Dragon on display at the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea in time for St. David’s Day.

This Grovesend Steel & Tinplate Co. Ltd. World War 2 employee registration card issued to Stanley Thomas, a second helper in the tinplate works hot mills. At the start of the war, many substantial employers would have had identity and registration documents printed for issue to employees. Survivals are few and scarce. Their low survival rate is probably due to wear and tear of daily use and continually being carried in a pocket or wallet, and also potentially due to their being superseded by National Registration Cards which were issued by the Government to all members of the population on 1-2 October 1939.

 

 

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

We were excited to see that USA Today named Wriggle as one of 'the best museum exhibits in Europe this winter', so we thought we'd share what some of our visitors have to say about the show!

Hosted at National Museum Cardiff, Wriggle has been a hit with families from all over the UK. Entry is free, and there are plenty of opportunities to dress up, crawl and explore - as well as get up close to some wonderful wriggly worms.

We'd love to welcome you to the exhibition - for more information, visit our Wriggle page. We look forward to seeing you! 

Weekend for two at Tŷ Newydd up for grabs!

We've been helping Literature Wales to create new literary tourism packages for visitors in Wales. As part of the tours, visitors will be encouraged to come and see literary objects from our collections - our portraits of Dylan Thomas are always a popular choice!

As part of this project, Literature Wales are carrying out an online survey to learn about the types of short breaks people who live in Wales will consider when they are planning a trip. Complete the survey to have a chance to win an exclusive two night, self-catering weekend for two people at Tŷ Newydd.

Good luck!