Last week I got the chance to go up on the roof of National Museum Cardiff to see the two Natural Sciences beehives. Since the bees arrived last year, Ben Evans and his team of trained staff from across the Cathays Park site have been responsible for the weekly maintenance of the hives. On this occasion Ben was able to sign me in as a visitor and we collected the box of beekeeping equipment and made our way up and out onto the roof. Next we put on our beekeeping gear; a half suit with an integral hat and face net and some thick gauntlet gloves. Ben lit up the smoker and waved it near the entrance of the hives to calm the bees. He then took the top off the hive and carefully pulled out the individual layers so that we could have a clear look inside. Each layer was covered in hundreds of bees and underneath we could see the beautiful hexagonal formations where the bees store their food and larvae. We also checked through each layer to locate the queen. She is marked with a green spot on her back so she can be clearly identified. The two hives are very different, in one the bees are quite subdued so Ben is feeding them with a sugary syrup to help them along. In the other hive the bees seem very active and are starting to produce honey. I actually got to taste the honey and it was gorgeous! Ben plans to produce a beekeepers diary, so keep an eye out for further updates about the bees on our blog pages and our Twitter Feeds (@NatHistConseve or @CardiffCurator). Let’s hope they produce more honey so we can eventually sell it in the museum shop!
With Volunteers’ Week fast approaching, many museums and galleries are busy planning events and activities to promote and celebrate the contribution of their volunteers. Here at St Fagans, volunteers play an active role in all aspects of our work. From whitewashing to thatching, rag-rug making to gardening, their skills and dedication are visible across the site.
A hundred years ago, volunteers were leaving their mark on St Fagans under very different circumstances. During the First World War, in 1916 the British Red Cross opened a 70 bed auxiliary hospital in the grounds of St Fagans Castle, staffed by Voluntary Aid Detachment nurses (known as VADs) from the local area.
The VAD scheme was formed in 1909 by the British Red Cross and the Order of St John, with the intention of providing additional nursing services in the event of war. Detachments (or units) were organised at county level, with each volunteer member receiving training in first aid and basic nursing skills. The first detachment to be established in Wales was formed at St Fagans Castle, of all places, in November 1909. The following year, two hundred VAD members from the county of Glamorgan took over the grounds for a training day. A reporter from the Cardiff Times witnessed the action:
An interesting demonstration was given in a field, showing how the wounded can be carried to the rear for treatment at hospital bases. Dr Sparrow explaining how first aid can be given without special provision of splints, bandages etc. A feature of the demonstration was a spring cart, lent by James Howells and Co Cardiff, which in less than seven minutes can be improvised for twenty-four wounded soldiers under cover. [Cardiff Times 24 September 1910]
Many of the nurses who volunteered at the St Fagans Red Cross Hospital during the war joined the VAD scheme at this early stage. One of whom was Mary Ann Dodd – known as Polly. She worked as a housemaid for the Windsor-Clive family in the Castle, but also did turns of duty at the hospital, as she recalled some 40 years later:
I used to cook and clean and one day a week I did the washing. Those soldiers’ socks were in a state, many had no heels in them at all. The soldiers only laughed and teased us, and when they got better, they tried to help us.
In July, we’ll be exploring some of these personal stories on-site through music and performance. The much-anticipated culmination of the Make an Aria project (in partnership with Music Theatre Wales and the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama) will give operatic life to the men and women who lived, worked and convalesced at the Castle during the war. The Make an Aria project is a first for the Museum - we don't often experiment with musical interpretation. Book your tickets now! And of course, don't forget about the First World War online catalogue. We’ve created a ‘volunteering’ tag to pull together all the collections relating to voluntary action during the First World War, both here at St Fagans and in communities across Wales.
Yma yn Sain Ffagan, mae’r prosiect ail-ddatblygu (Creu Hanes) yn mynd yn ei flaen ar garlam. Tra bo’r cadwraethwyr yn asesu cyflwr y casgliadau a’r curaduron eraill yn cydlynu gyda’r dylunwyr, un o fy nhasgau i dros y flwyddyn nesaf fydd gweithio ar gyfres o brosiectau cymunedol ar gyfer yr orielau newydd. Yn y byd amgueddfaol, mae ’na enw ar gyfer y math yma o waith – cyd-guradu, neu cyd-greu.
Wrth gwrs, dyw gweithio gyda chymunedau ddim yn beth newydd i ni fel sefydliad. Dyma oedd hanfod dull Iorwerth Peate o guradu a sylfaen datblygu casgliadau’r Amgueddfa Werin yn y lle cyntaf. Yn 1937 – bron i ddegawd cyn agor giatiau Castell Sain Ffagan i bobl Cymru – aeth Peate ati i lunio holiadur a yrwyd at unigolion a sefydliadau ym mhob plwyf yng Nghymru yn gofyn am arferion a thraddodiadau eu milltir sgwâr. Dyma ddyfyniad ohono:
… rhaid i’r Amgueddfa wrth wybodaeth a gwrthrychau o bob plwyf yng Nghymru; rhaid iddi ddibynnu hefyd i raddau helaeth iawn ar gydweithrediad y Cymry mewn fferm a bwthyn, tref a phentref.
Mae’r ymatebion a ddaeth i law bellach yn rhan o archif lawysgrifau’r Amgueddfa, ynghyd â llythyron a llyfrau ateb – dau ddull arall a ddefnyddwyd gan Peate i gasglu gwybodaeth. Yn ei gyfnod, does dim dwywaith nad oedd yn arloesi mewn tir newydd.
Heddiw, mae rhaglen gymunedol yr Amgueddfa yn barhâd o’r etifeddiaeth hon, ond rydym yn gweithio mewn ffordd dra wahanol. Yn y cyfnod cynnar, pan fyddai gwybodaeth a chasgliadau yn cyrraedd yr Amgueddfa, llais y curadur fyddai'n dehongli a chyflwyno’r deunydd hwnnw. Er mor werthfawr yw’r cynnyrch a gasglwyd, perthynas un-ochrog i raddau oedd rhwng yr Amgueddfa a’i hysbyswyr cymunedol.
Bron i wythdeg mlynedd yn ddiweddarach, mae’r pwyslais wedi newid ac fe welir hyn yn glir yn y gwaith sy’n digwydd yma fel rhan o brosiect Creu Hanes. O fewn yr orielau newydd, bydd gofodau wedi eu curadu gan gymunedau ledled Cymru – eu lleisiau a’u gwrthrychau nhw fydd hanfod yr arddangosfeydd hyn. Yn ogystal, mae fforymau cyfranogol y prosiect – pwyllgorau yw’r rhain sy’n cynrychioli cynulleidfaoedd amrywiol yr Amgueddfa – wedi chwarae rhan bwysig yn y broses o ddewis a dethol gwrthrychau a themâu yr orielau newydd o’r cychwyn cyntaf. Yn syml, ein nod yw creu hanes gyda, yn hytrach nag ar gyfer, pobl Cymru.
Gyda hyn mewn golwg, wythnos yn ôl mi roeddwn i gyda’r gymuned yn Awyrlu’r Fali yn cynnal ail gyfarfod am eu mewnbwn nhw i’r rhaglen cyd-guradu. Mae’r gymuned yn y Fali yn unigryw gan fod yno gymysgedd o dros fil o weithwyr milwrol a sifilaidd. Dyma un o gyflogwyr mwyaf Ynys Môn. Rydym wedi rhoi camerau fideo i ddetholiad o staff yr orsaf i recordio diwrnod arferol yn eu bywyd gwaith. Hyd yn hyn, mae wyth adran yn cymryd rhan, gan gynnwys y frigâd dân, peilotiaid Sgwadron 208 a’r gwasanaeth arlwyo. Mi fydd eu ffilmiau ‘pry-ar-y-wal’ yn cael eu dangos am gyfnod yn un o’r orielau newydd, ynghyd â gwrthrychau o'u dewis nhw. Bydd y cyfan wedyn yn cael ei archifo a’i roi ar gof a chadw yn yr Amgueddfa, a'r gofod arddangos yn cael ei drosglwyddo i gymuned waith wahanol.
I glywed mwy am ein prosiectau cyd-guradu, cadwch lygad ar y blog dros y flwyddyn nesaf. Gallwch hefyd gadw ar y blaen gyda'r datblygiadau drwy ddilyn fy nghyfrif Twitter @StFagansTextile a’r hashnod #CreuHanes. Cofiwch hefyd am fy nghyd-weithwyr sy'n trydar: @CuradurFflur, @archifsfarchive, @SF_Politics, @SF_Ystafelloedd, @SF_adeiladau, @WelshFurniture, @CollectionsSF a @SF_Dogfennaeth. Rhwng pawb, fe gewch chi’r diweddaraf am y prosiect ail-ddatblygu a chipolwg ar weithgarwch un adran sy’n rhan o’r gymuned waith yma yn Sain Ffagan.
Cefnogir y gwaith gydag Awyrlu'r Fali gan Gynllun Cyfamod Cymunedol y Lluoedd Arfog.
The youth forum worked extremely hard to get their first publication out in time for the Fragile? exhibition and it looks so wonderful! It contains interviews with artists, responses to the work on show and even an article about Spillers and Vinyl. We were also really lucky to have a great designer on board to work with the forum to create something so gorgeous - so thanks Chipper Designs!
You can pick up your copy of the youth forums magazine (or have a look at the pdf over on the right) at the exhibition and we would love to know what you think about it. Also we would love to know what your favourite fragile thing is, a baby? a cup? a building? let us know on twitter or instagram using #fragilefaves
Last year Staff from the Departments of Natural Sciences, and Learning, Participation and Interpretation took their I Spy…Nature themed pop-up museum out into the community. This year we have been delivering I Spy…Nature related workshops throughout March as part of the I Spy…Nature Exhibition outreach programme. Workshops at National Museum Cardiff allowed members of the public to carry out fieldwork within the museum, bringing the outside in! Visitors were able to explore the miniature world of British Slugs and Snails, go pond dipping, explore a rocky shore (utilising our brand new portable 3D Rocky shore) and go worm charming with our OPAL Community Science officer. During the middle part of March, staff ran a series of school workshops both at National Museum Cardiff and within a local primary school, where pupils could explore the seafloor, Fossils and Minerals before trying their hand at scientific illustration with a local artist. The aim of these sessions was to inspire children to explore their natural environment and also to give them a chance to experience the work that museum scientists do. For British Science and Engineering Week, staff held an I Spy…Nature Open day in the main Hall at National Museum Cardiff, with a plethora of specimens from our collections and even a giant lobster, fly and squirrel!
For more information on the I Spy…Nature activities see our Storify Story.