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Cymraeg

December 2014

Weather warnings

Posted by Penny Tomkins on 12 December 2014

Hello bulb buddies!

Merry Christmas and many thanks for sending me your data. Keep it coming!

We are getting an interesting picture of how the weather has varied across the country. Last week, Carnforth North Road Primary School in Lancashire, England reported a low temperature of 3°C and Mossend Primary School Primary School in Bellshill, Scotland reported 13°C for the same day! That’s quite a difference! If you’ve had extreme weather you can use the map to look at records from other schools on the same day and compare. Let me know if you find anything interesting!

I’m very interested to see what your records show for the last week. The Met Office (the UK’s official weather service) predicted colder temperatures and perhaps even snow in some areas! If you have snow perhaps you could ask your teacher to send in pictures, I would love to see them and might even post some on the bulb blog.

A yellow warning was given for wind, snow and ice in some areas of the UK. A yellow warning means that there is a possibility of bad weather in some parts of the country. The Met Office warn us about bad weather so that we can be prepared for it. This is because extreme weather (such as strong winds and ice) can cause difficulties and make it harder to travel. Sometimes roads, train lines and even schools close because of bad weather.

The colour chart below shows other colours used as a code for how strong the weather is.


Green: weather not expected to be extreme.

Yellow: possibility of extreme weather so you should be aware of it.

Amber (orange): strong chance of the weather effecting you in some way, so be prepared.

Red: extreme weather expected, on red warning days your parents might check for road closures before planning journeys.

The Met Office also use symbols to indicate what type of weather to expect. The symbols below show (in order) a red warning for rain, green for wind and snow, amber for ice and green for fog. This means there will be heavy rain and that you should prepare for ice. Why not have a look at the Met Office website and see what the weather forecast is for where you live?

Symbolau i ddangos pa fath o dywydd i’w ddisgwyl (delwedd y Swyddfa Dywydd).

Keep up the good work bulb buddies!

Professor Plant

Your questions, my answers:

Stanford in the Vale Primary School - Lots of rain on Monday, then hardly any during the week! The weather has started to get really cold, especially on Wednesday and frost this morning on Friday, the children are still hoping for snow!!!The children have made up a song for recording the weather and temperature - so we have named them the singing scientists. Prof P - Hello Singing Scientists, what a fantastic nickname! You all sound like a happy bunch and I’m sure that all the singing can only be benefiting your bulbs! Could you possibly send me your song lyrics or a recording of you singing? You are not the only school to have noted Wednesday as cold! Both Ysgol Rhys Prichard and Ysgol Hiraddug commented that they had heavy ground frost on Wednesday.

Glyncollen Primary School - One of our mystery bulbs is also starting to grow. We are all wondering what flower it is going to be. We are enjoying this project. Thank you Professor Plant. Blwyddyn 4. Prof P – Hello Bwyddyn 4, I’m so glad you are enjoying the project! It’s very exciting that your mystery bulb has started growing! Could you send me a picture? And keep me updated, I’d like to know when it flowers and what you think it might be! 

St. Ignatius Primary School – lots of our plants have died already! Prof P – Hello St. Ignatius, I’m very sorry to hear that you are having trouble with your bulbs. I will be in touch to find out more. Meanwhile, if any other schools are experiencing problems please get in touch!

5 Cosy Winter Comforts

Posted by Sara Maidment on 11 December 2014

As the nights draw in and the temperature drops, wrap up and stay toastie with our 5 favourite Welsh Winter warmers

1. We commissioned these lovely tapestry blankets from Welsh woollen mill Melin Teifi in Carmarthenshire, one of the few remaining working mills in Wales.  Using a traditional Caernarvon pattern we gave them a contemporary twist by using fresh tones and a bright pop of colour.

2. Treat yourself to a bit of luxury with a pair of cashmere socks. Carmarthen based Corgi Hoisery was established in 1892 to produce woollen stockings for local colliers. Today, every pair of socks is individually made on a hand knitting machine.

3. Just add hot milk to this luxury hot chocolate for a warming drink. Add a nip of Penderyn for an even more indulgent treat. This hot chocolate comes with a chunky earthenware mug.

4. These stylish pure new wool blankets from Tweedmill Textiles in Denbigh combine great design and value. Layer up a couple for an elegant style statement for the home.

5. Woven in Wales using a traditional pattern these 100% wool tweed flat caps are a stylish way to keep warm whether you’re out and about in the city or country this Winter.

Twelve Days of Christmas

Posted by Katie Mortimer-Jones on 11 December 2014

Happy Christmas from @CardiffCurator

Three French Hens

Six Goose Barncales-a-laying

Ten bugs-a-leaping

For the last two years we have put together an advent calendar celebrating some of the beautiful specimens in our natural history collections at National Museum Cardiff. We have been tweeting these from the @CardiffCurator Twitter account each day and will continue throughout December. The specimens behind the first twelve doors have been inspired by the song ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’.

We have compiled a Storify story on our advent calendar, which can be viewed here.

The Website is Changing

Posted by Chris Owen on 11 December 2014
Using the website
new beta homepage
Highlights page
St Fagans Homepgae

If you’ve been browsing our Visiting or Learning pages recently, you may have noticed a new look to those areas. From 9th December 2014, we are trialling parts of a new, updated Amgueddfa Cymru website with you.

Visit the Homepage

We need your feedback to help make these new pages as good as they can be. If there’s anything that didn’t work for you; anything that you found confusing or difficult to use; any information that you couldn’t find easily; or anything that you’d like to see improved, please let us know. Equally, if there are things that you really liked about the pages, we’d still love to hear from you!

Send Feedback

Why update the website?

During an extensive study of the existing website, we identified many areas where we think we can improve.

One of our core aims is to bring you the information you need more quickly and with less fuss. We are doing this by improving our content, simplifying our navigation and reducing the clutter on our pages.

With these new pages we want to bring you a fresh, modern web experience and one that works equally well on any device you may be using - be it a mobile, tablet, screen-reader or desktop computer. Visiting each of our seven museums is a unique experience and we also hope to bring a little more of that flavour of that to the web.

These are just a few of the ways we want to make the website better. We will be doing more work on all this in the coming weeks and months.

Coming in 2015

During the first half of 2015 you will see more and more areas of the website updated and improved. New Collections, Curatorial, Venue Hire and Blog pages will follow soon, as well as a new, updated Online Shop.

We will use any lessons learnt during this period to make sure that every area of the website is as good as we can possibly make it.

Your feedback and input to the new site will help us make that happen. And, of course, this is just the beginning.

Pest Management at National Museum Cardiff

Posted by Christian Baars on 9 December 2014

Insects love eating dead things. In nature, they are important decomposers. But in museums (and in your house) they can be a right old nuisance. Museums - who look after and preserve your heritage - need to keep a constant watchful eye on their collections; sometimes, this work hits the news, such as last week at Bakewell Old House Museum in Derbyshire.

Museum collections contain a lot of dead things. Wood is eaten by the larvae of furniture beetles (woodworm) who create very attractive tunnels; that is nice if you like tunnels, but not so good if you like that historic picture frame more than the tunnels inside it. Mould in archives and libraries provides a nice little food source for booklice. Carpet beetle larvae and clothes moth caterpillars aren’t fussy – they will eat wool, fur and feathers.

There is hardly a museum that does not have pest insects in its stores from time to time. These are the same insects you will find in your home. Your wardrobe at home is irresistible to moths. And did you ever have to throw away a bag of flower or cereal because it contained a healthy population of weevils or flour beetles? This is annoying, but you can easily buy a new pair of socks, or a new packet of flower. But can you imagine a WWI flag or a specimen of the extinct quagga being destroyed by moths? These are irreplaceable objects.

So insects like organic things. Parts of museum collections that are susceptible to insect infestations include entomology (yes, insects even love to eat insects!), taxidermy, botany, furniture, costume, shoe and library collections, and anything containing wood. It is often the larvae of insects that feed on organic objects. Insects also like not being disturbed. At home, you are more likely to find weevils in flour that is several months old than in a bag you bought last week.

To deal with an insect infestation does not mean fumigating the place with chemical insecticides; instead, it means not letting a problem get out of hand. It means regular checks and audits of the collections to spot any problems early. It means setting up pest traps around the entire building and checking them regularly. It means collecting data on insect activity across the site to spot patterns and relating them to particular problems, for example high humidity. It means setting up pest control zones with different restrictions in various parts of the building and a quarantine facility, which is something more and more museums are doing. It means good housekeeping: regular cleaning of stores, avoiding rubbish accumulating, putting specimens and objects safely away immediately after using them. And should any infestations be spotted we kill insects usually by freezing the object rather than using chemicals.

We are not quite "waging war on hungry bugs"; our approach to dealing with insect pests is called “Integrated Pest Management” (IPM). A couple of years ago the BBC made a helpful programme on this: What's eating the museum?, featuring museum pest management specialist David Pinniger. Work on this at National Museum Cardiff has only just started but IPM will receive a lot of attention in the next couple of years. Because of its general interest, pest management at the museum is also an area where we will involve the public through workshops, exhibitions and volunteer programmes. It will help us keep safe the collections we care for on behalf of the people of Wales while giving everyone an opportunity to learn about the fascinating world of insects.

November 2014

A Window into the Industry Collections

Posted by Mark Etheridge on 28 November 2014

The 14th October 2014 was the 101st anniversary of the Universal Colliery disaster at Senghenydd. 440 people were killed in this disaster on the 14th October 1913. It is still the worst mining disaster in the U.K. Last year on the centennial of the disaster a Welsh National Memorial to all mine disasters was unveiled on the site of the pit head. The memorial can be seen on the front of this memorial service programme acquired recently.

You can read an article on this disaster on our website. It is also possible to view all the objects from our collections that relate to this disaster on our ‘Images of Industry’ online database. Check it all out here

This interesting autograph book was donated this month. The book contains autographs, inscriptions and drawings connected with the South Wales Miners Federation, and most date to 1926. There are also some inscriptions relating to the Spanish Civil War. The photograph here shows the main inscription on the inside of the front cover.

This month also saw the launch of our First World War online database. It currently contains all objects and documents from the social & cultural history collections. It will soon include all our WW1 related objects from the industry collections as well. The site can be viewed here

To complement the launch of this database, staff from across Amgueddfa Cymru were involved in an ‘Explore Your Archives’ event held at the Oakdale Institute at St. Fagans: National History Museum. This event was an opportunity to show some original documents and photographs to members of the public, and promote the work we do in looking after these important collections.

Mark Etheridge

Curator: Industry & Transport

Follow us on Twitter - @IndustryACNMW

Our Top 5 Welsh Gifts

Posted by Sara Maidment on 27 November 2014

Cardiff on a bag!

Cardiff bag

Bight and breezy hand printed bag showing some of the Welsh capital’s best loved buildings. Heavy weight, wipe clean cotton makes these bags long lasting. They come in two sizes, a roomy shopper and a mini tote, perfect as a lunch bag. Each bag comes with a button badge so that you show your love of Cardiff wherever you go.

A perfect present for romantics

Ewenni lovering

This beautiful silver ring is inspired by a 15th-century gold posy ring found near Ewenny Priory. Inscribed with ‘ieme la belle’ on the outside there is a secret translation just for the eyes of your loved one on the inside that reads ‘love is beautiful’. 

Looking for a present for an art lover?

Internationally acclaimed for its eccentricity and lovelorn lyricism, Dylan Thomas’s 1954 ‘play for voices’ has long echoed in the imagination of the founding father of British Pop Art, Sir Peter Blake.  This beautiful book captures his obsession with works in pencil, watercolour and collage.

St Fagans Lovespoon Collection

This stunning collection of Welsh Lovespoons have been hand carved by Sion Llewellyn. Each one is based on a Lovespoon from the collection at St Fagans: National History Museum.

Knit one, purl one

Join the craft revolution with this lovely 100% pure new wool yarn made on the historic machinery at National Wool Museum near Carmarthen West Wales. Just a few balls will knit up a cozy snood or buy for a 500g cone for a cost effective way of making a larger project. Roll on winter…

European Science Foundation Exploratory Workshop

Posted by Chris Cleal on 26 November 2014

Conference delegates

Two weeks ago, Botany Curators at Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Cardiff welcomed scientists from across Europe, including Romania, Bulgaria, Germany and Spain. The visitors, who are all experts in the study of plant fossils and pollen analysis, spent two days discussing how best to study the changes that have occurred in plant diversity over the last 400 million years. These changes are important as they help scientists understand how vegetation has influenced climate and environmental change in the past.  The meeting included 17 presentations discussing the vegetation from different geological time periods. The visitors also had the opportunity to go behind-the-scenes at National Museum Cardiff to see a selection of rare plant fossils from the David Davies Collection and pollen specimens from the Hyde Collection.  This meeting was fully funded by an exclusive grant from the European Science Foundation. It is intended that the workshop will inspire a series of international collaborative projects that will maintain the Museum’s reputation as a centre of excellence in this field.

We produced a Storify Story based on Tweets made throughout the conference.

Magnificent Molluscs

Posted by Katie Mortimer-Jones on 25 November 2014

Our 'Magnificent Molluscs' Storify story about #MolluscMonday

Every Monday curatorial staff from the Department of Natural Sciences at Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales highlight some of the fantastic mollusc specimens from our collections, on Twitter using the hashtag #MolluscMonday

The Molluscan collections at Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum Wales number some 180,000 lots from many different collections which have been amalgamated into one systematic sequence.

The most historically important part of the collections is the Melvill-Tomlin collection which came to us in 1955 and contains over 1,000,000 specimens!

Want to find out more? Why not follow us on Twitter @CardiffCurator or @NatHistConserve or follow the hashtag #MolluscMonday to find out about this fascinating group of animals. Lots of people have been joining in so why not join in the fun!

We have compiled a collection of our favourite #MolluscMonday Tweets on Storify. We also do #BotanicMonday, #WormWedneday and #FossilFriday

Storage of entomology collections in museums

Posted by Christian Baars on 25 November 2014

What is the best way to store insect collections? Recently an enquiry was posted on NHCOLL-L (electronic forum for the care and use of natural history collections) about the use of wood as a material for insect storage cabinets. The question was:

What kind of preservative should be used to treat some new storage cabinets made of eucalyptus wood, that would not harm the insect specimens stored inside them?

The post sparked a discussion about ideal insect storage. Below is a little summary of the factors to consider when planning storage for your entomology collection.

The ideal solution

The ideal solution for insect storage in most situations are metal cabinets, which are robust, relatively cheap, made with a high degree of consistency and can be made air tight (well, almost). This will protect the collection against insect infestations, airborne pollutants and humidity fluctuations (although not temperature fluctuations – cf. Szcepanowska et al. 2013.

Why use wood preservatives?

However, if you do need to use wood for the cabinets, you should consider the following concerns.

Usually, the reasons for treating wood with preservatives are either:

  • to make it more hard-wearing (in the case of wooden floors), or
  • to stop it being attacked by fungi or insects, or
  • to prevent it from greying when exposed to UV light.

Most of these issues are problems mainly in outdoor applications of wood, and there are a number of ways of dealing with these: wood can be varnished to make it protect it from physical impacts, stained to protect it from UV light, and pressure-treated or painted with insecticides and fungicides (ranging from highly toxic substances, such as pentachlorophenol, to less hazardous ones, such as borax).

Assuming the entomology store is dry, has a low relative humidity, clean and there is no problem with insect pests – which should all be the case to safeguard the collection, never mind the storage cabinets – there is really no reason why the cabinets need a finish at all. This applies to all woods – whether in a museum or in a domestic situation, wood used indoors should not require any treatment to protect it from fungal or insect infestations, or greying. Coming back to eucalyptus wood in particular: this has a naturally high content of polyphenols, which makes it naturally resistant to mould growth and insect attack, further negating the need to treat it.

There is one exception: if old cabinets are bought from another institution there is a danger that pest insects may be present already, which could introduce them into the new location. It is advisable therefore to check any old cabinets thoroughly before they are installed – better still, before they are transported to the new location. This then gives time to investigate appropriate treatment options, which are not restricted to chemical means; instead, the units may be frozen, heat-treated or treated in a nitrogen chamber. But that is an entirely different subject which shall be discussed in detail elsewhere.

Organic acid emissions

A further question was the issue of emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Wood naturally emits many different VOCs, including acetic and formic acids, which is a problem in many museum collections (e.g. causing Byne’s disease in Mollusca and egg collections, and enhancing pyrite decay in geological collections). There does not appear to be a problem with VOCs affecting insect specimens themselves, although organic acids frequently lead to pin corrosion in insect collections. Many wood preservatives may exacerbate the problem of VOC emissions from storage cabinets. As we always look for ways of lowering such airborne pollutants in museum stores and galleries there is another reason against the use of wood preservatives in entomology stores – actually, ANY museum stores.

What material to choose for the drawers? Experience has shown that plastic drawers have problems with static electricity charging, which attracts dust. Metal drawers can be heavy and unwieldy. Wooden drawers still appear to be very much the most practical way of storing insects. However, the type of wood used should not emit large amounts of VOCs, and the drawers should have well-fitting lids to keep out pests. If you wanted to use a locally sourced (sustainable and ethical) wood you might have to undertake a little research. Generally, hard woods are better than softwoods (drawers made from softwood can warp with time and often contain large amounts of resin), although many imported tropical woods used in days gone by are now controversial for environmental and social reasons. When researching the potential suitability of different wood types, try tracking down a comparative study of the VOC emissions of different local hardwoods, which would give you an indication of those high emission species to avoid in the construction of drawers.

Further guidance

The UK’s Natural Sciences Collections Association [http://www.natsca.org/] has published some guidance on the construction of insect storage units:

NHCOLL-L is a general purpose electronic forum for those with an interest in the care, management, computerization, conservation and use of natural history collections. Hosted by Yale University, NHCOLL-L is co-sponsored by the Society of the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC) and the Association for Systematic Collections (ASC, Natural History Collections Alliance).

Disclaimer: The links in this article are purely examples of potential pest management but by no means an endorsement of particular companies or organisations.