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Mold Gold Cape comes to Wales this summer

The Mold Gold Cape will go on loan from the British Museum for public display in Wales this summer. In partnership with Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales and Wrexham County Borough Museum & Archives, this will be the third time the cape will have been displayed in Cardiff and will go on to be shown in Wrexham, not far from where it was found. The Cape will be on display for free at both venues as part of the Spotlight Tours organised through the British Museum’s Partnership UK Scheme.


The Mold Cape is a unique ceremonial gold cape and made around 3,700 years ago, during the Early Bronze Age. A highlight exhibit at the British Museum, the cape will be shown at National Museum Cardiff 2 July to 4 August and then Wrexham County Borough Museum, 7 August to 14 September 2013.

The cape is one of the finest examples of prehistoric sheet and embossed-gold working in Europe. Skillfully and carefully fashioned from a single sheet of thin gold, it is unique in design. The cape was discovered in Mold, Flintshire in 1833 when workmen discovered a skeleton in a grave at the centre of a circular burial monument. The accompanying grave goods, hundreds of amber beads, gold and bronze fragments, were divided up between them and the land tenant. The British Museum, recognizing its importance and significance - and at a time before a National Museum existed in Wales - devoted efforts and care in acquiring the cape and accompanying fragments for its collections. It was given prominence in the British Museum prehistory displays from early on and in the 1960s and 70s British Museum experts looked at how the fragments were joined. The original shape of the object only became clear after painstaking work at the Museum, piecing together all the embossed fragments to reveal its original form as a cape. Recent research has suggested that the wearer of the cape, amber bead necklace and the bronze knife may have been a woman.

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum said, “We are delighted that this exceptional object of national and international significance will be displayed in Cardiff and Wrexham this summer and are hugely grateful to our partners, the National Museum Wales and Wrexham County Borough Museum, for their collaboration as well as the Art Fund for their support. Through research on rare objects like the Mold Gold Cape, in recent years we have come to see British prehistoric societies very differently. These precious objects show us that societies in Britain must then have been extremely sophisticated, both in skill and in their social structure. They were not isolated but part of a larger European trade network, a web of trade and exchange from North Wales to Scandinavia.”

David Anderson, Director General, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, said, “We’re delighted that this priceless Bronze Age masterpiece from north east Wales will soon be on display here again at the National Museum Cardiff. Having one of Britain’s most famous ancient artefacts and one of the most important European Bronze Age finds on display in Wales, where it was originally found, is a wonderful and unique opportunity for local people and visitors to enjoy and to find out more about their heritage and early past. Working in partnership with museums such as the British Museum and Wrexham County Borough Museum enables precious artefacts such as the Mold Cape to be accessible to all. The Mold Cape is of great importance, in both local and national contexts and is also of international significance to our understanding of cultural expression and power relations in Early Bronze Age Europe, reflected both in life and in death.”

Councillor Neil Rogers Leader of Wrexham County Borough Council said, “The last time the Mold Cape came to Wrexham Museum in 2005 it attracted 11,500 visitors in just 12 weeks! That fact more than any other illustrates the huge level of interest amongst the local public for both archaeology and our shared prehistoric heritage. So I am naturally excited at the prospect of the Cape’s return to the town. The exhibition at Wrexham Museum will tell the story of its discovery and by looking at the evidence for other similar sites in the area, attempt to set it in its contemporary archaeological context. The display of the Cape would clearly not be possible without the co-operation of both the British Museum and Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales and Wrexham County Borough Council is extremely grateful to both bodies for their on-going support in continuing to bring our shared National treasures to Wrexham.”

The Mold Gold Cape was featured as one of the top ten treasures in the 100 objects in “A History of the World” in partnership with the BBC. This project was awarded The Art Fund Prize in 2011 and the prize money awarded has formed the basis for The Spotlight Tours.

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

The Mold Gold Cape will be on free public display at National Museum Cardiff, 2 July – 4 August 2013 followed by Wrexham County Borough Museum & Archives from 7 August – 14 September 2013.

The British Museum exists to tell the story of cultural achievement throughout the world, from the dawn of human history over two million years ago until the present day. The Museum is a unique resource for the world: the breadth and depth of its collection allows a wide public to re-examine cultural identities and explore the complex network of interconnected human cultures. The Mold Gold Cape is very popular with the British Museum’s six million visitors a year and is a star object displayed in the European Prehistory Gallery (G51). The cape has been lent several times to Wales, most recently in 2005 when it was lent to Wrexham County Borough Museum.

The Spotlight Tours are organised through the British Museum’s Partnership UK Scheme. Partnership UK is the strategic framework for the Museum’s programme of engagement with audiences throughout the country. It includes single loans, touring exhibitions, Partnership Galleries and skills exchange. The Museum works with venues of all sizes to share its collection and expertise as widely as possible across the UK. The British Museum won The Art Fund Prize in 2011 for its partnership project with the BBC “A History of the World”. The prize money awarded to the British Museum has formed the basis for The Spotlight Tours.

The Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for works of art and plays a major part in enriching the range and quality of art on public display in the UK. Supported by some 90,000 individual members, it campaigns, fundraises and gives money to museums and galleries to buy, show and share art, and offers many ways of enjoying it through the National Art Pass.

As well as supporting the buying of works of art, initiatives under its funding programme include: sponsoring the UK tour of the Artist Rooms collection so that it reaches several million people across the UK each year, and fundraising: two recently successful campaigns include bringing in £6 million to save the Staffordshire Hoard for the West Midlands and Pieter Brueghel the Younger’s The Procession to Calvary for Nostell Priory, in partnership with the National Trust. Over the past year, the Art Fund has given £24 million for works of art to 248 museums and galleries. The Art Fund is funded entirely by its art-loving and museum-going supporters who believe that great art should be for everyone to enjoy.
Find out more at www.artfund.org.

The Art Fund Prize is administered by The Museum Prize, a charitable company created in 2001 by representatives of National Heritage, the Museums Association and the Art Fund and chaired by Lady Cobham. These organisations agreed to put aside award schemes they formerly ran (including National Heritage’s Museum of the Year) and lend their support to this single major prize.

Entry to National Museum Cardiff is free thanks to the support of the Welsh 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.

Amgueddfa Cymru’s fine Bronze Age collections will in the near future be relocated and shown at St Fagans: National History Museum, within a number of newly combined archaeology and history galleries. We are currently in the process of redeveloping the museum, thanks to the support of the Welsh Government and Heritage Lottery Fund, to create an unique museum where visitors will be able to explore over 200,000 years of the story of the peoples of Wales.

For further information

Lleucu Cooke, Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales

029 2057 3175 or lleucu.cooke@amgueddfacymru.ac.uk

Steve Grenter, Heritage Services Manager, Wrexham County Borough Museum & Archives - Rheolwr Gwasanaeth Treftadaeth, Amgueddfa ac Archifdy Bwrdeistref Siriol Wrecsam

01978 297462 or Steve.Grenter@wrexham.gov.uk

Olivia Rickman, Press and PR Manager, British Museum, 020 7323 8583 / 8394 or communications@britishmuseum.org

 

Date: 22 February 2013
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