Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum Wales

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By Claire Amundson, Learning Volunteer.

After deciding that teaching in schools was not my cup of tea, the question I was left with was, ‘What Now?’

With a background full of education related experience there seemed only one option; museum education. For someone just starting out in the museum sector, volunteering with the Learning and Events teams at Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales has been an incredible step on the ladder. More than that, it has been an incredible experience altogether.

 

Through volunteering I have met new people, some like-minded individuals looking for pastures new and some simply enjoying volunteering in retirement or their spare time. For me, however, volunteering with the learning teams at National Museum Cardiff and St. Fagans has opened up a new world. Through volunteering I have gained an insight into what museum education is and how powerful these informal learning sessions can be for visitors.

 

In my time as a volunteer I have helped make Iron Age shields, helped to build a Wicker Man, and deliver summer sessions on the Mold Cape and other exhibitions. When the Mold Cape returned to Wales it was a chance to research the Bronze Age period further and ‘dig deeper’ into history I had only touched on previously. I also volunteered on a session on Pop Art, and it was amazing to see how many children had no idea what a CD was and yet hear the stories of parents and grandparents remembering cassettes and vinyl records.

 

Volunteering has truly made an impact. I have worked with people of all ages and discovered how rewarding it is to work with families in an informal learning heritage setting; something that complimented my earlier experience in formal learning as a teacher and teaching assistant. These experiences helped me towards obtaining the Wordsworth Trust Traineeship in 2014, and expanded on my experience at Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales.

 

Now, although still searching for that first break-through role, I have a wealth of experience behind me and memories that will last for years to come!

We would like to offer volunteers the opportunity to get involved in caring for the museum collections on open display in the historic houses. We have a huge number of objects, including items made from pottery, glass, textiles, paper, wood and leather, all of which need constant care and repair.


We plan to use traditional housekeeping techniques as well as modern conservation methods to help keep our collection looking good.  No previous experience is required, all training will be provided.


New facilities are also being created for our housekeeping volunteers, providing a comfortable area to work as well as relax.


If you are interested in joining us, please follow this link to the application form and we look forward to hearing from you.
This is a pilot project so even if the initial days we offer are not suitable, please still register your interest as more opportunities will arise in the future.

We are currently recruiting housekeeping volunteers at St.Fagans to help look after the displays in the historic houses and Castle. This is a new scheme that is open to anyone who would like to get involved and learn more about traditional housekeeping techniques. Many of which still have a use today, such as using natural herbs and flowers to repel moths from precious woollen jumpers.


With your help we would also like to enhance the interpretation of the buildings by putting more of the collections on display and reintroduce traditional crafts to create replica items, such as rag rugs, baskets and wicker carpet beaters.


Training will be provided, so no previous experience is required, all we ask in return is a few hours of your time a week.  This is a pilot project, so even if the days currently on offer are not suitable please do still get in contact and register your interest.


As part of the project we have converted one of the cottages at Llwyn yr Eos farm into a base for housekeeping volunteers, with studios and a comfortable place to relax.


If you are interested in becoming a housekeeping volunteer please follow this link and we look forward to hearing from you.

As part of Volunteers’ Week 2015 Amgueddfa Cymru invited the Volunteers, Community Partners and Staff who helped to build Bryn Eryr to a special preview event.

Bryn Eryr is our newly built Iron Age Farmstead which will be open to the public in the near future. Our volunteers and staff have helped with all elements of this build; from mixing clay to make the walls, to making nettle rope, to threshing spelt and even thatching the roof! They have been busy building this farmstead for the last 12 months, in preparation for the thousands of visitors and school children who will come to experience what life might have been like in the Iron Age.  

Our Bryn Eryr celebration was a great chance for everyone to bring family and friends, and even their dogs to see the outcome of all their hard work. Our learning department held activities for everyone to get involved in. There was copper beating, rope making and wool spinning, so everyone learnt a new skill and had fun in the process. This gave us a great chance to trial these activities before Bryn Eryr opens officially.

This marked the end of Amgueddfa Cymru’s Volunteers’ Week celebrations and as a final note we would like to thank everyone who has volunteered with us, either as an individual, in a group or to the 1025 visitors who last summer helped us make nettle rope, without your ongoing support we wouldn’t have achieved this.

We've been celebrating volunteering this week as part of Volunteers' Week (1-7 of June 2015) and a big part of this for us at Amgueddfa Cymru is saying Diolch/Thank you to the people who volunteer their time with us. To say thank you this year we decided to throw a Garden Party at St Fagan's Castle, unfortunately it was raining so we ended up with a Tea Party instead!

We had bunting, flowers and a pop-up exhibition celebrating all the projects volunteers volunteer on across Amgueddfa Cymru. This included rope out of nettles, Celtic tools and booklets on the torture of witches.

 During the event our Deputy Director Mark Richards presented our Investing in Volunteers award, which we have achieved for all of our Museums across Amgueddfa Cymru, to the people who take part and are the reason behind the award; our volunteers, community partners and staff.

Paul and Anna, Samian Pottery Volunteers accepted the award on behalf of our volunteers across Amgueddfa Cymru, while Kat accepted it on the behalf of one of our Community Partners, Newlink Wales. Janet, Head of HBU accepted this on behalf of the staff who work with volunteers.

This was followed by tea, sandwiches and scones! Fortunately there was enough cake left that most of the staff at St Fagans were able to join in and have a scone or two... All in all a great party was had!

Our volunteers are an important part of our team at Amgueddfa Cymru, they add-value to our work, have fresh ideas and challenge us to be more creative. From all of the staff who work with you we would like to say a big DIOLCH!