I began my role here at Amgueddfa Cymru just over two weeks ago and it's been a busy start as I've set about meeting staff across all of our sites, as well as attending the National Waterfront Museum's fifth birthday celebrations. Everyone has been incredibly welcoming, and I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to lead such a highly regarded institution.
I've joined Amgueddfa Cymru at an exciting period. Developments are underway to create a National History Museum at St Fagans and the conversion of the first floor of National Museum Cardiff to become the National Museum of Art for Wales is due to be completed in July 2011. Over the coming months, I will give my full support to these projects as well as affirming Amgueddfa Cymru as a contemporary resource for Wales. The National Museums are here to serve the people of Wales and developing cultural partnerships is a way of delivering this vision successfully. This approach is of even greater importance in light of the country's current financial situation.
Last week, we launched the document Inspiring Wales at the Senedd. Learning is at the heart of Amgueddfa Cymru and this paper is a celebration of this work and our vision to become a world-class museum of learning. The booklet shows how, as well as having an important role to play as guardians of the nation's collections, equally important is our work in interpreting and communicating the collections to the people of Wales and its visitors.
Amgueddfa Cymru is unique among national museums in the British Isles in its spread of sites and their close connection with the communities and regions of which they are a part. No national museum in London can come near it in this.
Its collections are also exceptionally diverse in their range of disciplines – from social history to art, from natural sciences to industrial history. This enables the museum to appeal to an exceptionally broad audience, with a good gender balance – again, unlike some museums in London!
The opportunity to work in one of the great Celtic museums has a particular appeal for me. Having been born in Belfast and studied Archaeology and Irish History in Scotland, I am glad now to have the chance to learn more about Welsh culture and history.