Peregrines on the Clock Tower 2013
May 29 update
Well the chicks are now about a month old and the change in the last 10 days or so has been dramatic. The pictures show them at about 20 days and then a mere 8 days later, changing from fluffy white balls to something resembling a Peregrine.
If all 3 chicks fledge - possibly a big if given the knack they have of falling off the tower before they can fly properly - this will be a very good year. Well, I suppose it is anyway as the adults wil have raised 3 chicks to fledging age, just that the nest site isn't particularly safe for youngsters!
Judging by the size of the young it looks like there may be one female and 2 males. At one month the difference in size between the sexes is apparent even from a distance.
The next 2-3 weeks will be very challenging for the youngsters, I hope they manage to stay on the tower!
Daffodil Drawing Competition 2013
I announced the Winners and Runners Up of the Daffodil Drawing Competition a couple of weeks ago, and now their fantastic drawings are now up on our website for you all to see!
In this competition I was looking for botanical illustrations – these are pictures of plants drawn in a scientific way. This means I was looking for beautiful pictures but they also needed to have clear labels to show the different parts of the Daffodil.
1st, 2nd and 3rd prize winners will receive a bird watching kit with mini binoculars. Runners Up will receive flower seeds for the garden.
Click here to view this year’s Winners and Runners Up.
It’s May already and I must apologise for my lack of blog posts recently. It’s been a busy time for Amgueddfa Cymru.
I’m delighted that we have ended the year with another set of strong visitor figures attracting 1,745,315 visitors, exceeding 1.7m visitors for the first time ever. In 2012, we celebrated 1.69 million visits as the highest total ever recorded since free entry was introduced in April 2001, and this year we had an extra 55,289 visitors compared to the previous year of year, up by 3.27%.
Amgueddfa Cymru has now achieved record visitor figures for two consecutive years and I am delighted that we’ve succeeded in breaking yet another record this year, which is testimony to the quality of the service delivered by the Museums and the true value of the Welsh Government’s free entry policy.
It’s been a challenging time for the organisation. The current financial climate poses unprecedented challenges for every public sector organisation in Wales and Amgueddfa Cymru is no exception. Amgueddfa Cymru is facing a reduced budget and must find £2.5m in savings over the next three years. We have recently undertaken a period of consultation with staff and partners regarding a proposed new structure for the organisation which will be announced shortly. I’m very grateful for the patience and cooperation of Amgueddfa Cymru staff during this difficult period.
The proposed changes will not affect the day-to-day operations of the seven national museums across Wales. In finding savings, we have given priority to sustaining services for users. Amgueddfa Cymru will continue to offer visitors quality experiences at each of its sites.
Since I last posted on my blog, a new Culture & Sports Minister has been appointed in the Welsh Government, John Griffiths AM whom I had the pleasure of meeting recently. I am very grateful for the support and work of the previous Heritage Minister Mr Huw Lewis over the past few years and I’m really looking forward to working with Mr Griffiths.
It seems like a long time ago now but I was in Chongqing in China at the beginning of March for the opening of our Amgueddfa Cymru exhibition Wales: Land of the Red Dragon at the China Three Gorges Museum. Promoting Wales as a contemporary nation through international work is one of our main priorities and this partnership is an excellent way to give the 30 million people living in the Chongqing region the chance to learn more about Wales’ rich and unique assets in culture, history and the environment.
I recently bought a copy of E.P. Thompson’s William Morris: From Romantic to Revolutionary. It is a few years since I last read anything by E.P. Thompson, and his Customs in Common has long been on my list of future reads. I found the postscript to the 1976 edition, in which he discusses Morris’s place in the history of communism, moving because of the very personal way in which Thompson refers to his own thinking on this subject.
Peregrines on the Clock Tower 2013
May 3 update
Plenty of feeding taking place today and I think there may now be 3 chicks. Their heads are becoming more visible by the day so it should soon be very obvious how many chicks there are. Female seems to be doing most of the feeding at the moment with the male bringing in the food.
I hope the chicks are more sensible this year when they are bigger and don't get too adventurous too soon - the ledge by the nest isn't very wide!
Watch their progress here
SS Philip and James School Garden
Professor Plant’s Promise: Late flowers won’t get left behind
Hi Super Scientists,
4116 of you have helped with the Spring Bulbs investigation this year – which is truly FANTASTIC! I am very, very busy this week getting your certificates ready to send out to you!
But for some of you the investigation is not over yet… your flowers are still not open.
What do you do if your flowers have not yet opened?
Please keep sending in flower data! If your flowers have not opened and you would like to carry on with your investigation then please do! When they open you can still record the flowering date and plant height on our website.
So why have a deadline?
I have to write a special report every year that gives a summary of all the data sent in so far. I need to write that report now. All records sent in before the deadline will be included in this years report.
What happens to records sent in after the deadline?
Records sent in after the deadline will be added to our database and will be included in next years report. All the records that you send are very important and will help the investigation to be more accurate in the future. I promise you that your data will not be lost or wasted.
Who are the people in the photo??
I would like to introduce you to Nick and Pat Bean who own the farm, Springfields Fresh Produce, where your daffodil bulbs come from! These are pictures of them in a field of Tenby daffodils that they have grown on their farm.
Whose has sent in flowers records for the first time?
Thank you to the following schools for sending in their flower records: Gladestry C.I.W. School, Williamstown Primary, St Athan Primary, Ysgol Hiraddug and Bwlchgwyn CP School in Wales, Hawthornden Primary School, Ladybank Primary School, Tynewater Primary School and Torbain Primary School in Scotland, and Larkrise Primary School, Britannia Community Primary School and Thorneyholme RC Primary School in England.
Well done too to all the schools that keep sending in more and more flower records to make our investigation more accurate!
Natural science collections in Welsh museums – a Distributed National Collection
There are number of reasons why we would want to undertake a national review of museum collections. One of them is to aid the development of a Distributed National Collection (DNC), one of the most exciting collections management concepts in recent years.
DNC - What is it?
The idea of the DNC implies a shared responsibility for our heritage. The Museum Strategy for Wales recognises that collections telling the story of Wales are kept across the nation by a diverse range of museum institutions. Collections – and the knowledge that goes with them – remain at the heart of museums; they are the reason museums exist and what makes them unique.
Many museums collect to reflect the culture and natural history of the geographic area they cover. Other museums collect material related to a specific site, activity, community or object specialism. A museum’s collecting remit is usually defined in its acquisition policy. When accepting objects into their collections museums consider not only to their own acquisition policies, but also those of other museums – this coordinated approach to collecting is one benefit of the shared knowledge that comes with a DNC.
There are a number of reasons that may reduce a museum’s capacity to collect as comprehensively as it had previously done. An agreement with other museums could facilitate the development of specialized subject-based collections, and arrangements to facilitate management of and access to objects and specimens. Institutions across Wales would co-ordinate the collection, display, research, storage and disposal of collections to ensure the greatest access to collections with efficient targeting of resources. This strategy represents a move away from the location of collections to a focus on how they are used and cared for.
Why do we need one?
The concept of the DNC was adopted by CyMAL for the Welsh Assembly Government within the 2010 Museum Strategy for Wales, and endorsed by museums across Wales. Collections and the stories they tell are the most fundamental of museum assets. In recent years there have been a number of important initiatives to better document, understand and care for museum collections. Whilst this remains by no means a comprehensive achievement with much still to be done, we now have an opportunity to take stock and develop new concepts and initiatives.
Driving factors for the development of a DNC may be funding constraints, or loss of specialist expertise. However, the DNC is about more than simply pooling resources. The concept enables the museum sector to, among other things:
- promote our collections,
- work collaboratively across the sector,
- collect comprehensively, and
- improve access both within the collecting community and for the public.
How will it help the public?
The public benefit lies in a better understanding and appreciation of our collections, which opens up ways and means to improve our enjoyment of and access to them. Knowing where the most historically significant and intrinsically important items and records are kept, and how they can be accessed, can only be of benefit to those who wish to see them as well as to those charged with their long term care and interpretation.
What’s in it for museums?
The DNC enables information to be discovered and shared, omissions within collections identified and areas of overlap addressed with informed collecting. This makes museum collections more robust and relevant. Scientists, such as biologists and geologists, in particular, have long known that museum collections globally are one single resource. Specimens held in museum collections form a physical inventory of the history of life on Earth. Specimens are kept, in preference to data and images alone, for the physical information they contain.
Museums are seen by the public as unbiased guardians of factual information and therefore have the potential, if they are not reduced to simply recycling nostalgia, for influencing public opinion in an authoritative way. The concept of the DNC formalises the relationship between museums and supports easier sharing of specimens and information. It forms a coordinated strategy to ensure the preservation of a nation’s cultural material, and to facilitate broader physical and intellectual access to it. Museum collections will add up to much more than the sum of their parts. This partnership approach is important in any subject discipline, not only in natural history, for museums to retain their status as keepers of knowledge.
Natural history museums are in the midst of an unprecedented opportunity for linking collections-based research with the experiences they offer to the millions of people they serve each year. If they are successful in fully integrating these two historically separate realities, they have enormous potential to elevate the public understanding of, engagement with, and participation in urgent and compelling scientific challenges now and in the future.