Amgueddfa Blog

Patchwork of Memories – Remembrance and grief during Covid 19

Loveday Williams, 13 July 2022

In 2020 Amgueddfa Cymru and Cruse Bereavement Support Cymru came together to support people across the country through their grief and create a lasting memorial full of memories to those lost during the time of Covid-19. It involved creating a square patch containing a memory of a loved one, in which ever way people chose, in whatever words or images they liked. Each patch created demonstrated a visual display of lasting memories of someone they loved who had died, created in unprecedented times.  50+ patches were sent to the Museum and have been carefully sewn together to form a Patchwork of Memories.

For the last two year we have all lived very different lives, with change to our normal the only constant. Losing a loved one is always hard but usually we have the comfort of others and collective mourning at funerals to help us say goodbye and share our memories.  However, a death in the last two years has meant many of us being cut off from our support networks and our rituals or remembrance being altered.  

Rhiannon Thomas, previous Learning Manager at St Fagans said about this project “Helping people with grief is something that I am personally passionate about. Having worked with Cruse Bereavement Support previously to support families I felt the Museum was able to help families dealing with loss in a different way.  Amgueddfa Cymru and Cruse Bereavement Support Wales came together to create a project based around creativity and memory, the aim being to make a lasting memorial to those who have died during the pandemic.” 

Creating something is not a new response to grief, there are several Embroidery samplers in Amgueddfa Cymru’s collections made in memory of loved ones or marking their passing.   This sampler by M.E. Powell was created in 1906 in memory of her mother.   Creativity during difficult times of our lives can help all of us to express deep held emotions that we do not always have the ability to put into words. 

Bereavement Support Days

Alongside the Patchwork of Memories initiative, the Cruse / Museum Partnership also provide a safe inspirational space for the increasing numbers of children and young people awaiting bereavement support and help meet the diverse needs of bereaved children, young people and families who benefit from coming together to rationalise, explore and understand that they are not alone in their grief. 

A series of quarterly Bereavement Support Days are held in partnership with St Fagans, for children, young people and their families experiencing grief and loss. There is specialist support from Cruse staff and volunteers along with art and craft activities provided by Head for Arts and immersive Virtual Reality experiences provided by PlayFrame, which are light-hearted, allowing people attending the chance to make and create things that can be taken home with them and or captured and stored into a virtual memory box. The activities available are designed to stimulate rather that prompt.

Here is the film created by PlayFrame on Ekeko, the virtual memory space they have been creating alongside this project, installing objects, memories and stories donated by participants into a virtual memory box for people to enter and explore:

https://youtu.be/KoQE00ff-rc 

And a link the virtual reality memory space itself: https://www.oculus.com/experiences/quest/6371190072951353/

Alison Thomas, Cruse CYP Wales Lead said “Cruse Bereavement Support Wales provides in person support to children and young people within a variety of settings, so we see first-hand how difficult it can be for grieving children and young people. Their collective support on these days allows families the time and space to verbalise and begin to understand their loss and associated emotions. The focus of the Bereavement Support days is around children and young people, however, the benefits resonate through the whole family including the adults in attendance, some of whom require bereavement support on the day, most of whom stay for the duration and share a cuppa and chat with other bereaved parents and guardians. Following the session, the whole family can have a look around the Museum and spend time together in a safe and nurturing setting.”

Here are some of the written (in their own handwriting) evaluation feedback quotes from children, young people and parents / guardians who have attended the Bereavement Days:

'I feel calmer, less worried.  It was good being able to speak to people my age who understood what I'm going through.'

'I was very included in all the activities and was always involved in conversation.  There was a calm atmosphere making it easier to speak to people there.'

'I was very welcomed and was immediately approached by a friendly face.  It was very inviting and was easy to speak to people there.'

'HAPPY' 🙂

'Love 🙂 happy'

'Thank you Diolch, Diolch 🙂'

A mother of one of the young people said 'I feel much better than I did.'

Another mother said 'All was lovely, made to feel welcome, everything we did was good and the girls enjoyed themselves.'

The two memory quilts will be competed by the end of August 2022, following which we will hold a final project event with Cruse Bereavement Support Wales on 25th September at St Fagans National Museum of History, where we will display the two quilts and invite both the contributors who sent squares and the participants from the Bereavement Support Days to attend, along with the public, to see the quilts and share their experiences of taking part in the process.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Spring Bulbs for Schools Investigation Results 2021-22

Penny Tomkins, 1 July 2022

Hi Bulb Buddies,

I’ve had an interesting time compiling the end of year report for the Spring Bulbs for Schools Investigation. I’ve attached the reports on the right for you but let’s take a quick look at some of the highlights!

Remember that our weather readings are taken between November and March, meaning that records for each year include readings from the November and December of the previous year. For example, when the report talks about results for 2012 it’s referring to data taken from November 2011 to March 2012.

Graph showing the Spring temperatures from 2012 to 2022. General pattern is high temperatures November which drop in January before raising again in March

2022 saw slightly higher than average temperatures and the second warmest February of our investigation. The MET Office has stated that February 2022 was the fifth warmest on record based on measurements dating back to 1919.

 

Colourful block graph showing average Spring weather from 2012 to 2022

The graph shows that 2022 was the fourth warmest period of our study.

Graph showing the total of springtime sunshine hours from 2012 to 2022, the amount increases from November to March

2022 saw the lowest and highest average hours of sunshine of our investigation. The MET Office has stated that 2022 saw the dullest December since 1956! It also saw the sunniest January and second sunniest March based on records dating back to 1919.

 

Colourful block graph showing the average hours of spring sunshine from 2012 to 2022, 2012 saw the highest amount with 2022 a close second

2022 saw the second highest hours of sunshine of our investigation. There are 25 hours difference between the year that saw the highest average hours of sunshine (2012) and the year that saw the lowest (2016).

 

Graph showing the monthly rainfall in spring between 2012 and 2022, there's no obvious pattern over the years however December and February seem to have highest amount

We can see from the chart that 2022 saw the lowest average rainfall of our investigation for November and January and the second lowest for March. In contrast, it saw the third highest rainfall for February. The MET Office has stated that February 2020 was the wettest on record with measurements dating back to 1862!

Colourful block graph showing the average rainfall between 2012 and 2022

The bar chart shows that 2022 saw the lowest average rainfall of our investigation at 90mm while 2016 was the wettest year of the project with an average rainfall of 158mm.

Graph which shows the flowering dates for Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Wales flowers flowered earliest with Scotland and Northern Ireland much later

Our results show that plants flowered earliest in Wales and latest in Scotland. Scotland was the coldest country and saw the least sun.

 

Results table from between 2012 to 2022 showing when Crocus and Daffodils flowered. Crocus was towards the beginning of March and Daffodils on average around the 13th March

2022 saw both plants flower earlier than the overall average. It’s interesting to compare results from 2022 with the overall averages for the project. The table shows that 2022 saw above average temperatures and hours of sunshine and below average rainfall when compared to previous years.

 

Colourful graph showing the average hours of spring sunshine between 2006 and 2022, the average drops slightly after 2015with 2022 the highest amount since then

The graph shows average hours of sunshine for the period November-March for Wales. We can see from the chart that Wales saw lower than average hours of sunlight for the period November 2001 to March 2022. It’s interesting to note that the years 2006 to 2012 all saw higher than average hours of sunshine and that since then only one year (2015) has seen above average hours of sunshine.

The difference between averages for Wales and averages for the UK highlights the regional variations that can occur. The MET Office have recently announced interesting regional variations in their latest climate reports. Climate is measured in 30-year periods, in line with guidelines from the World Meteorological Organisation. A comparison between the 1961-1990 and 1991-2020 periods has revealed an increase in temperature (+0.8°C), rainfall (+2.3%) and sunshine (+5.6%) for the UK.

It will be interesting to see what patterns will emerge from our results as our long term study continues. Thank you for your contribution to this year’s investigation and I hope that you will follow the progress of the 2022-23 investigation from September.

Great work Bulb Buddies,

Professor Plant

Our Museum Garden June 2022

Sian Taylor-Jones, 24 June 2022

Our wonderful ‘Our Museum Garden’ volunteers have made a great start in the first 3 months of the project. We are on a mission to improve our museum grounds for biodiversity and the public. At the end of March we set about clearing the carpark and grounds of huge amounts of Irish Ivy (Hedera hibernica) and removing dead shrubs. It’s given us some great planting opportunities:

  • We have planted spring bulbs (for next year) under the trees as you drive into the carpark. There are snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) and a variety of different daffodils (Narcissus spp.) We also added some geraniums and ferns for some later interest.
  • We have started to develop a herb bed. This isn’t intended solely for human consumption – but to provide for the pollinators too. The ‘herb bed’ has been planted up with rosemary (Salvia Rosmarinus), lavender (Lavandula), marjoram (Origanum marjoram), thyme (Thymus vulgaris), chives (Allium schoenoprasum), borage (Borago officinalis), angelica (A. archangelica), fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) and chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile). We have already seen lots of insect visitors to the patch.
  • There are the beginnings of plans for a small herbaceous border.

 

The volunteer group is also tasked with looking after the ‘Urban Meadow’. For the next few months, this patch of ground adjacent to Park Place will be alive with wildflowers and pollinators. We supported Plantlife’s ‘No Mow May’ campaign which encourages people to keep their lawns uncut to increase biodiversity. We surveyed the meadow at the end of the month and found a wide selection of grasses and 8 different flowers including bird’s foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) and creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens). We estimate at that time there were 4950 wildflowers within the space.

 

We will have an event running to celebrate National Meadows Day on Saturday July 2nd too. Come and join us, survey the meadow with us and make seed bombs to take away and start your own mini-meadow!  All the details you need are here: National Meadows Day | National Museum Wales

 

This project is funded by Welsh Government’s Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme, administered by WCVA.

 

Queer Tours at St Fagans National Museum of History

Oska von Ruhland, 14 June 2022

Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales is home to a growing collection of objects exploring Wales’ LGBTQ+ history. Like the other collections, they’re all available to view online in the Collections & Research tab on the Museum’s website. The Collections Online features objects both in store and currently on display.

Though the collection is always available to freely view and people may read through the information about each object and learn in their own time, it is a shared view that it is important to celebrate and uplift the stories and lives of marginalised communities and bring forward hidden aspects of Welsh history. In doing this work we hope to normalise queer lives in Wales, and solidify the important role of diverse identities as part of Welsh culture.

To give an idea of the sort of objects we will be discussing in the Queer Tours projects, we would like to invite you to look through Collections Online, and consider not only contemporary queer icons who make our variety of Pride events so unique, or even famous historical figures who have secured a place in mainstream Welsh heritage, but the lives of the everyday person who may have had to live in secret, or whose activism was never properly recorded. Here we want to bring forward all of these lost stories, in the hopes that by sharing them we will continue to uncover more.

In an effort to bring attention to the LGBTQ+ Collection, we have developed the Queer Tours project to encourage the public to explore the variety of objects and better understand Wales’ queer heritage. This project has been developed by Amgueddfa Cymru Producers on behalf of the museum for the Pride season.

For the ever-growing variety of objects in the collection, and a want to reflect as many important aspects of this heritage as possible, several parts of this project have been developed or are in the process of being developed:

  • A series of social media posts highlighting a selection of objects in the collection and their role in queer Welsh heritage that will be available on the Bloedd AC Instagram account.
  • A digital tour video of St Fagans National Museum of History exploring objects currently on display and the way we can interpret the history of queer everyday life.
  • A self-guided tour for visitors of St Fagans National Museum of History to follow the route themselves and become immersed in history themselves.
  • A  special one-time-event in-person led tour is being developed so that attendees may enjoy hearing about the work at St Fagans National Museum of History and the continuing effort being put into the LGBTQ+ Collection.

It is our hope that this project be useful and educational to people not just during this Pride season, but will leave a lasting impact and change views of what queer heritage means in Wales.

All of this work is possible thanks to the Hands on Heritage support fund.

On Your Doorstep exhibition install to opening

Katherine Slade, Ben Rowson, Jody Deacon, Julian Carter and Alastair Willis, 24 May 2022

The On Your Doorstep exhibition is now open at Oriel y Parc in St. David’s, Pembrokeshire. This collaborative exhibition between the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and Amgueddfa Cymru highlights natural history and archeological discoveries made across Pembrokeshire. It also features local wildlife, and you can use our spotter’s sheets to spot them.

This exhibition emerged from an idea formed during the early Covid lockdown in 2020. As nobody could travel far from home, we all started to notice and appreciate what was right on our doorsteps.

Our response at the museum was to create resources inspired by the museum collections to encourage people to explore the nature and archaeology where they live. Spotter’s guides, archaeology factsheets, puzzles and nature bingo were released under the On Your Doorstep banner during the restrictions.

But how did we prepare and transport the museum objects used in the exhibition and what was involved from a curator’s point of view?

Like many people across the UK, we had to find new ways of working during the pandemic to help keep everyone safe. Our team, working from homes across Wales, met virtually and brainstormed ideas online.

Following the design and planning phases, museum curators and conservators made sure the chosen museum objects were ready for display. Some of the specimens needed additional conservation and preparation work. This included adding extra fixings to pressed botanical specimens so that they were securely attached to their backing and moving preserved fish to new preserving fluids. A beautiful Corn Marigold wax model made in the 1930s required extensive work to remove a wax bloom covering the model as well as some stabilisation repairs. Special slug models were created for the exhibition by shell curator Ben, as it is difficult to show the beauty of these animals from fluid preserved specimens in our collections.

We wanted to show the specimens in a natural context, so we gathered together dressing materials such as dried plants, twigs and leaves. Stripy coastal snails were stuck onto a dried and painted Sea Holly, and eggboxes were needed to stage the moths around a moth trap. We used pebbles to hint at the Scaly Cricket’s shingle shore home, and a hand lens by the lichens suggests a way to spot tiny characters in the field.

Once everything was assembled, we started packing ready for transport from National Museum Cardiff to Oriel y Parc. With many delicate objects, this was no mean feat. Items were ticked off lists, object exit forms (to allow us to track where specimens are) were signed and we were ready to go!

Meanwhile the museum’s exhibitions and tech teams continued work to get cases, panels, labels in place, as well as commissioning construction of the central structure in the gallery, made in part to show off the impressive casts of early Christian monuments from Penally.

Once curators and conservators arrived at Oriel y Parc, and after a quick cuppa, we started to arrange cases into position with the Oriel y Parc team. We cleaned the insides of the cases thoroughly before placing objects.

Because of the wide variety of Amgueddfa Cymru’s collections, something we can do is combine very different objects and subjects. In this exhibition we mixed natural history and archaeology specimens. While Wales has many native plants and animals, some were brought to Wales by people, for example, for food, medicine or accidently. We placed a couple of non-native animals and plants into archaeology cases in the gallery. A poppy sits amongst prehistoric and Roman finds, as it was probably accidently introduced by farmers to Wales during the Iron Age.

A fun finishing touch was to hide Ghost Slug models around the gallery. Why? Ghost Slugs were first found in Wales in Cardiff in 2008. We want to track their spread and need everyone to look for them. Could you be the first to find one in Pembrokeshire? To get some practice you can search for them in the exhibition!

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The On Your Doorstep exhibition can be seen now at Oriel y Parc in St. David’s. There are accompanying digital resources, all accessible from the website. These include some new free spotter’s sheets created especially for the exhibition.

For more news around the exhibition take a look at @OrielyParc on Twitter and use the hashtags #OnYourDoorstep and #ArEichStepenDrws

For news on the archaeology, conservation and natural history teams at Amgueddfa Cymru follow @SF_Archaeology, @NatHistConserv and @CardiffCurator