Press Releases

Treasures that Travel

Parc Prison helps Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales celebrate 60 years of sharing Museum collections

From Victorian toys and Roman food to artworks by Betty Blandino and Eirian Short, young people from across Wales have been able to enjoy the national collections in their own environments for the past 60 years.

2009 marks the 60th Anniversary of Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales's Outreach Collection - the first national museum loan service of its kind in the world. And a new display by young offenders at HMP & YOI Parc, Bridgend, which went on display this week (2 June 2009) at National Museum Cardiff, demonstrates how those who aren't able to visit the Museum can still benefit from the nation's treasures.

Formerly known as the Schools Loan Service, the Outreach Collection is set up to lend objects to a wide variety of groups - particularly young people - with the aim of inspiring creativity, reminiscence and learning. According to D. Dilwyn John, Director of the National Museum from 1948 to 1968, its aim was "to interest, to inspire and to teach through things." (The Museum Schools Service 1950).

The collection, which was used by over 99,000 people from April 2008 to March 2009, continues to evolve. Today, objects are loaned to community groups, television and film companies, special interest groups and institutions such as HMP & YOI Parc, which is run by G4S.

With an extremely proactive creative arts department, which runs educational and rehabilitation programmes, the prison welcomed the Outreach Service's involvement which resulted in stunning artworks by adult prisoners, young offenders and young people. Using the Museum's art and natural history collections as inspiration, the participants' 3D and 2D art will help to support the work produced for exams, including OCN, GCSE and AS level.

"We have found that the objects borrowed from the Museum have helped inspire the participants to be more creative and motivate them to look at a wider variety of objects for inspiration," said Laurence Bater, the Prison's Creative Arts Curriculum Manager.

"A small achievement made by a prisoner can have a significant effect. Something that we often take for granted can really make a profound difference. Engaging in the creative arts is an excellent way for prisoners to boost their confidence and raise self-esteem."

HMP &YOI Parc's exhibition will be displayed in National Museum Cardiff's main hall in a permanent display space - Treasures that Travel - for the next three months.

Bryony Spurway is the Outreach Collections Manager. She said:

"Taking our collections outside the Museum's parameters means everyone can enjoy parts of the fantastic collections we host on behalf of the country. Some of the most popular items include those that provoke an emotional response, for example Victorian bodices with perspiration marks! Also, a blind boy with special needs and learning difficulties was able to handle a fox specimen and realised for the first time that animals were a different shape to humans."

The work of the Outreach Service wouldn't have been possible without the help of the Friends of Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales, whose support has been gratefully received.

Admission to National Museum Cardiff is free thanks to the support of the Welsh Assembly Government.

Amgueddfa Cymru operates seven national museums across Wales. These are National Museum Cardiff, St Fagans: National History Museum, National Roman Legion Museum, Caerleon, Big Pit: National Coal Museum, Blaenafon, National Wool Museum, Dre-fach Felindre, National Slate Museum, Llanberis and the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea.


For further information, images or interview opportunities, please contact Catrin Mears, Communications Officer on (029) 2057 3185 or email


Sara Webber, Marketing and Communications Manager, HMP & YOI Parc, G4S Care & Justice Services Limited on (01656) 300208 or email