Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum Wales


This October Amgueddfa Cymru had the wonderful opportunity to be a part of the Made in Roath community arts festival. Now in its 7th year, the festival celebrates creative talent by taking art out of the gallery and into the wider community, with an emphasis on social engagement and inclusivity.

During the weekend of 17th and 18th October, the Natural Science conservators and curators along with some amazing Made in Roath volunteers, contributed to the festival’s creative extravaganza by installing a pop-up museum in a residential house. The unique setting allowed us to display many of our scientific specimens in a completely different way and also to make great use of our outreach collections.

Our aim was to simply have fun with the specimens, to inspire curiosity and delight for our visitors, and reinforce the idea that museums can be a friendly, relaxed spaces. So that’s just what we did…. by placing a sheep in the kitchen, a giant ancient millipede on the worktop, a crocodile under the stairs and an ostrich skeleton in the bay window. We filled a snooker table full of insects, made blinds from pressed plants and replaced the cups and saucers in the welsh dresser with fossils and minerals. Our curators enjoyed weaving their humour into the displays in subtle ways too. Visitors may have noticed a fox and otter playing a family game together and spelling their names, the spider’s web in the garden with its own paper label and even the specially created 2015.032 accession number with reference to the year of the festival and the door number of the house! 

Thanks to everyone’s hard work, the exhibition was a huge success and was amazingly well received by the local community. We have a visitor book full of lovely comments to prove it!

We’d like to say special thanks to the local Roath celebrity, Boyd Clack, who cut the red ribbon and opened the museum for us; the property owners who let us take over their home; and our volunteers who warmly welcomed visitors over the weekend, helping us to bring the museum to life.

We hope that our collaborative work with Made in Roath will grow in the future, so we can find even more creative ways to engage the community with our science collections. Watch this space!

Chalkie Davies: The NME Years

The exhibition has just come to an end and so it's finally time to award our prize winners. It was great to see so many people taking inspiration from Chalkie's work, and interacting with the show.

The man himself had a chance to judge all the entries and we're happy to announce our prizewinners with you! 

First Prize

@3gsdevtrust - Well done! A signed Chalkie print and swag bag is on its way to 3Gs Development Trust, who work with young people across Gurnos, Penydarren and Dowlais. 

Second Prize

@fezzer64 posted this picture of a happy rebel and wins a Spillers Records voucher and swag bag:

Third Prize


A Seetickets voucher will be on its way to Aaron for this twisted and moody shot taken in Cathays Park

Chalkie also picked five runners up, who get a swag bag each: David Jones, @tflathers, @daniellestalbot, Paul Hurlow and @softfun. You can check out their entries, and more, on the #mychalkieimage storify.

Thank You!

Thanks to everyone who took part - and of course, to Chalkie for judging the photos for us. Have a look at everyone's entries on our #mychalkieimage storify. If you missed the show, learn a bit more about Chalkie and his iconic work below:

I’m back at my desk in St Fagans having just had one of those ‘I love my job’ kind of weeks. On Wednesday, I spent the day with an amazing group of Year 10 students from Ysgol Clywedog in Wrexham, gauging their opinions on devolution and its impact on Wales since 1997. Heavy-going stuff for 14 year olds? Think again!

With my colleagues Owain and Richard, I met the students at Wrexham County Borough Museum bright and early on Wednesday morning for an action-packed day of researching, questioning and debating. The aim of the day was to produce a film of the students discussing devolution and what it means to them as teenagers living in Wrexham today – a town which voted ‘no’ in 1997. We took a banner from the collection with us as a springboard for debate. This banner – made for the ‘yes’ campaign by the artist Mary Lloyd Jones – will be displayed in one of the redeveloped galleries here at St Fagans in the near future, along with contemporary voices from Ysgol Clywedog.

To kick-start the discussion, we asked the students to do a little background research. Some trawled the web using i-pads, while others accessed local newspapers stored on microfilm in the museum’s archive. Headlines and articles from the Wrexham Leader gave a snapshot of the debate at a local level – 44.3% of voters in Wrexham were in favour of devolution, while 55.7% were against. The Year 10 researchers were not surprised by the ‘no’ vote in Wrexham. This prompted a lengthy discussion about their identities as young people in north-east Wales, living so close to the border with England. Interestingly, eight out of the nine participants would have voted ‘yes’ in 1997 had they been eligible to vote.

We then moved on to analysing the banner. Without any prompts or contextual information, we asked the students to jot down their initial reactions and emotions on viewing it for the first time. Comments varied from questions about its design to its usage and meaning. In the afternoon, we filmed two group discussions, with the students directing questions to each other. This took on the feel of an informal Question Time, without the cheering and heckling! We were so impressed with the energy and enthusiasm of the students, it’s going to be a real challenge to edit the finished product.

A huge thank you to Thomas, Jess, Edan, Pedro, Morgan, Elise, Matthew, Lucy and Harry from Ysgol Clywedog for taking part in the project. We can’t wait to see the film on display. Our thanks also to Wrexham Museum for hosting and supporting the workshop. Diolch yn fawr iawn i bawb.

#YesForWalesBanner #MakingHistory

#BanerIeDrosGymru #CreuHanes

A lot of progress has been made since my last blog post. The thatching has been completed and the final stages of landscaping are underway. An earthen bank has been built around the two roundhouses, replicating the formidable defences of the original site at Bryn Eryr Farm in Anglesey. A turf-roofed shelter has been built behind the houses, which is to be used as an outdoor workshop as well as an additional educational facility. Its walls are of clom (a mixture of clay, subsoil and aggregate) just like the roundhouses, but its turf roof represents another roofing material arguably as old as thatching itself. A cobbled surface has been created outside the front of the roundhouses, again, reminiscent of the original site.

Recently, my work has focussed on furnishing the interior of the houses. The larger of the two houses will remain fairly empty (other than a hearth and a wooden bench that circumnavigates its inner perimeter) so that it can be used as a classroom and demonstration area. The smaller house has been dressed to display Iron Age life. Within are some of the furnishings expected of any Iron Age house: a hearth for warmth, a bed for sleeping, a loom for weaving clothing and blankets – along with wooden chests to store them in, and a cauldron for cooking food. Nearly all of the items on display are based on period examples that have managed to survive 2000 years of time. For instance, the cauldron is a replica of a well-preserved copper and iron cooking pot from Llyn Cerrig Bach – only 25km away from the Bryn Eryr site. The iron fire-dogs are simplified replicas of the Capel Garmon fire-dog which was discovered not far away in Denbighshire. The wooden bowls are replicas of those found at the Breiddin hillfort in Montgomeryshire, and the quern stones (for grinding corn into flour) are replicas of ones found within the Bryn Eryr roundhouses themselves. We have a full wood-working tool-kit based on examples from hillforts such as Tre’r Ceiri and Castell Henllys. Even the blankets on the bed have been faithfully copied from surviving scraps of textile.

Now that the house has been faithfully dressed with period furnishings, we can use the space to demonstrate what life was like within a roundhouse. Furthermore, with the aid of craftspeople, re-enactors and volunteers, we can contribute to a deeper understanding of life in the Iron Age, and help turn this house into a home.

This is the summary of a talk Carolyn Graves-Brown from Swansea's Egypt Centre gave at the recent "Heritage in Turbulent Times" event at National Museum Cardiff.

Studies of Bronze Age Egyptian weapons and warfare tend concentrate on metal weapons and ignore the part played by flint. Flint is not considered as attractive as copper or gold and in a milieu which is impressed by technological progress, metal is still considered superior. However, at least until the Early New Kingdom (c. the time of Tutankhamun or 1300 BC) there is strong evidence that flint weapons were standard military issue and far from being a primitive technology they were a natural choice for both utilitarian and ideological reasons.

Despite the fact that many hundreds of artefacts were found in a possible armoury in an Egyptian fort sited in Nubia (modern Sudan) and the fact that contemporary artefacts are known from sites in Egypt, flint found on Egyptian sites is often explained away as either foreign or intrusive to New Kingdom contexts. However, in many instances flint is a good choice for weapon manufacture, particularly where a quick and ‘dirty’ fight is envisaged. Flint is sharper, arguably cheaper and often more deadly than metal. Warfare and flint also had an ideological importance, it is the ideal weapon of the sun-god Re and perfect for destroying the enemies of Egypt. I concur that metal was a component of warfare, but make a plea for the role of lithics.

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