Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum Wales


On Saturday 10th October, scientists from the Museum’s Natural Sciences Department and Cardiff University came together to mark both National Biology Week and Earth Science Week, and to prove that biology (and geology) does indeed rock!  Engaging displays and fun activities filled the Main Hall and were also scattered through the lower natural history galleries and Clore Learning Space.  Visitors collected a stamping sheet at the door and could claim a stamp for every activity they completed.  Everyone who collected ten stamps had the chance to colour in and make their own natural history badge to take home.  Museum scientists wowed visitors with specimens from our collections behind the scenes, including the largest seeds in the world, glow-in-the-dark minerals and huge scarab beetles.  Visitors could also explore sea creatures and seaweeds in a rock pool, and have a go at matching fossils to their correct place on a timeline of the Earth’s history.  Fans of the game ‘Operation’ had the opportunity to try their hand with an actual size, adult dummy version, courtesy of biologists from Cardiff University, who also presented a range of other fascinating topics, including what we can learn from road kill, how healthy babies are made, how toadstools get their white spots and how to extract DNA from strawberries.  Appropriately enough, the University’s team of geologists set up shop at the entrance to the Evolution of Wales gallery, and invited visitors to experiment with what makes an explosive volcano, try to bend rocks and have a go at stepping in the footsteps of dinosaurs.  The day also featured several family-friendly events linked to the ‘Reading the Rocks: the remarkable maps of William Smith’ exhibitionTheatr na nÓg gave three performances of a one-man play exploring Smith’s work from the point of view of his young Welsh apprentice, and scientific historian Dr Leucha Veneer gave a family talk looking at early ideas about rocks and fossils.

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:

The Natural Sciences Department at National Museum Cardiff have once again taken their 'I Spy...Nature' Pop-up museum to the Capitol Shopping Centre in Cardiff during this year's summer holidays. 

Our younger visitors were encouraged to utilise their drawing skills to draw some of the fantastic specimens from Amgueddfa Cymru Collections on display as part of a drawing competition. Examples were fossils, minerals, marine creatures, flowers and bugs from all around the world. We had some fantastic entries and it was extremely difficult to pick the winners. However, after much deliberation we eventually managed to pick a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in three age categories (under 6, 6-9 and 10-13 years). Due to the fact that it was so hard to choose winners we also selected a couple of highly commended drawings.

Each winner will receive a natural history inspired prize from the Museum's shop and will receive a special behind the scenes tour of the museum to find out what museum scientists do and where we house the museum's natural history collections, which comprise of over 3 million specimens.

We very much look forward to welcoming our prize-winners and their families to the museum.

We have almost 50 historic buildings here at St Fagans, and most of us staff here have clear favourites. I find I have more than one categories of favourites - the one with my favourite story, the house I’d most like to live in today, and so on. For a spotlight tour I needed to consider all this, pick my favourites, and take visitors on a tour of my chosen buildings.

After thinking, and changing my mind a few times, I made a decision. I chose the Tollhouse with its connections to rich and fascinating political and social history, Nantwallter which has a great story attached, and Llainfadyn which is originally from Rhostryfan, not far from where I grew up in North Wales. I also noticed that they seemed to be linked, and not only by their period of interpretation.

Nantwallter is built from clom, a mix of clay, straw and fine aggregate packed in layers. As the house was being dismantled, a piece of newspaper was found. On the paper was an advert for a ship called the Halton Castle which was to sail on the 25th of April to Patagonia, y ‘wladdychfa Gymreig’, to establish a Welsh settlement in Argentina in 1865. This ship didn’t sail, however the more famous Mimosa sailed instead. It’s an amazing thing to come across. I can’t help wondering if this scrap of paper took them away for a moment to faraway lands, from their lives in West Wales, before they filled the gap in the wall.

Next stop was Llainfadyn, a quarry man’s house from Rhostryfan on the edge of Snowdonia. This was a chance to talk about the quarries and bring North Wales down to St Fagans. There are also plenty of great slate features and furniture inside. I’d recently been walking near where the house is from originally, so I showed some photos of the area, and wondered maybe if that was the view the quarry worker would have seen. The family who lived there later emigrated to America to work in the quarries of Vermont as the industry in Wales began to wane towards the end of the 19th Century. 

The Tollhouse from Aberystwyth represents a turbulent past, and is a chance to tell the story of inequality and tension in the 1840s. Farmers had to pay extortionate tolls several times on a single journey. This was too much on top of tax and rent, and the tithe to a church they didn’t belong to so tension mounted, and Rebecca and her rioters attacked tollhouses such as this. Workhouses were also attacked, and the gap grew between the landed gentry and the farmers. Being inside made you think of the keepers of the tollhouses, and where might they stand. The leaders of these riots were punished severely, some being transported to Australia.

What stirred my imagination, was seeing the familiar stories and histories, settings and daily lives of the people and circumstances attached to them, when looking closer, being catapulted into the big picture, and the other side of the world. The story of the farmers linking in with social injustices of the 19th century, and the political activism and reform tied with it. But also, the contrast between the familiar homes from familiar parts of Wales, that have far reaching connections with countries and continents all over the world. Did they keep a little piece of ‘home’, this familiar ‘home’ now represented at St Fagans, with them – on the shores of their new worlds at the journey’s end?