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November 2014

Kids in Museums Takeover Day 2014

Posted by Grace Todd on 19 November 2014

A great idea - have children design posters to advertise the exhibition to children

Presenting their ideas

describe your feelings on art using pictures

Hard at work

On November 13th Class Hawk from Trelai Primary joined us for Kids in Museums Takeover day. They tested out some new activities and trails that have been developed for the Artes Mundi exhibition. In the afternoon they worked on developing their own ideas for activities. These were presented to Artes Mundi who will be incorporating some of them into new resources for children. The class came up with some excellent ideas for activities that could be done in any gallery space which we wanted to share, you can see them below.

Thanks and a big hand to Class Hawk and Mr.Cole for all your hard work and excellent fun!

CLASS HAWK'S IDEAS

Pick some words that describe the space you are in/the works on display and make a word-cloud from them

Use this to make a rap

Find the names of artists and works and make a word search for them

Describe how the works of art make you feel using pictures

Make masks inspired by the works on display

Have an I Spy game to play in the space where we have to find things on a check list  - these could be parts of a work of art or words like the names of artists

We like activities that helps us move slowly through the space and appreciate the work

The Adventures of Arthur the Arthropleura

Posted by Annette Townsend on 11 November 2014

Arthur before conservation

Arthur has a bath

Arthur after conservation

Arthur visits the impressionists

» View full post to see all images

In June this year the Natural Sciences Department received a rather special donation from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; a life size model of a giant millipede, Arthropleura, that would have lived in the Carboniferous Period, 300 million years ago. Arthropleura is the largest invertebrate (creepy-crawly) ever known to have lived on land, reaching up to 2.6 metres in length, but despite its monstrous proportions it is thought to have been a harmless herbivore.

The model was originally on display in Kew Garden’s Evolution House but when the space was dismantled in preparation for the HLF funded restoration of the Temperate House, it was no longer needed. So it was donated to Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, thanks to the generosity of Chris Mills, David Cook and Jonathan Farley at Kew.

The Arthropleura model was in need of some substantial conservation work when it arrived at AC-NMC. It had been on open display for many years in a glass house alongside living plants and was damaged and rusty. The humid display environment had caused the surface paint to flake away and several spiders and snails had taken up residence on the underside of the model!

The first job was to give the model a good wash with hot soapy water and remove the dirt and cobwebs! Then all the flaking paint was scrubbed off, the damaged areas on the legs and head were rebuilt with an epoxy putty and the surface textures recreated. The nuts and bolts of the removable antennae had rusted together, so the metal parts were replaced with new stainless steel threaded rods.

Once the repairs were complete the model was carefully painted with acrylics and then coated in a durable varnish, making it once again suitable for public display.

Some of the Natural Science staff had become rather attached to the impressive 1.5m long millipede model whilst it underwent conservation work in the lab and named it Arthur the Arthropleura! We also decided to have a bit of Halloween fun with Arthur… so he “escaped” and went on the run around the museum galleries! We posted pictures of his adventures on the @CardiffCurator Natural Sciences Twitter account and had a fantastic response from our followers. Arthur the Arthropleura is now a social media star and is a really wonderful addition to our collections!         

Finally autumn

Posted by Danielle Cowell on 10 November 2014
Beech trees

Hello bulb buddies!

I hope you’re all having fun looking after your bulbs.

Autumn has finally arrived in Cardiff. There is a chill in the air and the leaves on the trees are turning lovely shades of orange, yellow and brown.

Autumn has arrived late this year. October’s weather was warmer and wetter than average and this meant lots of the trees kept their green leaves for longer than usual.

The weather on Halloween was extra-special! Temperatures in some areas of the UK, such as south England and north Wales, reached well over 20°C. 

The temperature in Kew Gardens in west London reached a whopping 23.6°C, which is the highest temperature ever recorded in the UK on Halloween. I hope you didn’t get too hot in your spooky costumes!

I think these weird weather conditions are very interesting and am excited to see what strange things you find during your spring bulb experiments.

Has autumn arrived where you live? Are the leaves changing colour and falling from the trees? Why don’t you take an autumnal picture and send it to me in an email? I might even post it here on my blog.

Remember that you should now have started recording the temperature and rainfall on your weather charts. If you can’t remember what you’re supposed to do you can look at the Keeping Weather Records page on my website.

Many Thanks

Professor Plant

Bulbathon 2015

Posted by Danielle Cowell on 6 November 2014

Professor Plant

Pupils busy planting at Balshaw Lane Primary.

Planting indoors to avoid the rain.

All planted up at Preston Grange School.

A planting day of bulbous proportions!

Eleven thousand and three hundred bulbs were planted by school scientists across the UK to kick start the Spring Bulbs for Schools investigation. Seven and a half thousand pupils from one hundred and seventy nine schools got planting to investigate climate change.

Here is a map to show you where the bulbs were planted.

Here are some of the pictures they sent in. Follow their progress and the questions they raise as they record the local weather and flowering through the winter and into the spring.

Professor Plant

Fire burn and cauldron bubble!

Posted by Jennifer Gallichan on 5 November 2014

Our ghoul infested Herbarium

Learning more about the Ghost slug

Arthur the Arthropleuran

Bugs and beasties on the Entomology (Insects) stand

» View full post to see all images

‘From ghoulies and ghosties, and long-leggedy beasties, and things that go bump in the night…’

Last Friday, Natural Sciences staff celebrated Halloween in grand style with a host of truly ghoulish and grizzly specimens out in the main hall at National Museum Cardiff. The National Herbarium was transformed into a ghoul filled graveyard, and a large mosquito model leered down from the entomology (insects) stand, any moment threatening to jump on the jugular of an unsuspecting member of the public. Younger visitors to the OPAL stand were encouraged to stealthily walk through a spider’s web without disturbing its occupant, and learn about glow in the dark scorpions. Meanwhile the biggest creepy crawly that ever lived, Arthropleura, a 300 million year old extinct giant millipede, escaped from the Palaeontology (fossil) stand and went off to explore the Impressionist galleries.

Despite all of the fun, visitors gained an insight about some of the 6 million specimens that are held behind the scenes at the museum, and the incredible work of the staff that care for them.  From bats to giant squid, volcanic rocks to fungi, we covered them all. One of my favourite parts of the day was taking visitors behind the scenes on tours of the Entomology and Molluscan sections to see insects and shells and the Spirit store (not ghosts, but where we keep our specimens preserved in fluid such as sea worms and crabs). It is such a rewarding experience to see the excitement of people visiting the collections for the first time, and proudly talking about all of the great research work that we do.

If you missed it, don’t worry! We have a whole host of open days and curator led sessions coming up. See our What’s Onto find out more!

Museum scientists pop up at Fairwater Library

Posted by Lucy McCobb on 4 November 2014

A beautiful display of freshly-pressed leaves and fruits

Marine specimens from the Invertebrate Biodiversity Collections

Slug identification 

A range of fossils from different periods of the Earth’s history

Museum scientists were out and about during half-term week, when the I Spy…Nature pop-up museum paid a visit to Fairwater Library on 30th October.  Curators from the Botany, Invertebrate Diversity and Palaeontology sections took along specimens from their collection areas to show the public, along with a microscope and quizzes to encourage them to look even closer.

Ingrid Jüttner challenged people to identify as many trees as they could, using beautiful displays of freshly-pressed leaves and fruits.  This activity was a big hit with grown-ups, and it was very pleasing to see so many parents and grandparents encouraging children to learn more about these important plants, which bring our living spaces to life.

The library’s meeting room became temporary home to an impressive array of marine and mollusc specimens from the Invertebrate Diversity section.  People were fascinated by the creatures on display, which evoked a range of reactions (including ‘they’re really gross!’) depending on how they felt about slugs and worms!  Teresa Darbyshire showed some of the diversity of life found around our shores, with beautiful sea shells, lobster, starfish, and a pickled octopus and giant sea worm.  Visitors tried their hands at identifying shells using a key, all good training for trips to the beach!  Ben Rowson challenged people to identify mystery objects under the microscope, and introduced them to slug identification using his recently published book and life-like models.

Lucy McCobb showed visitors a range of fossils from different periods of the Earth’s history, ranging from an Ice Age mastodon tooth and horse’s leg bone, through Jurassic ammonites and ichthyosaur bones, to trilobites, which are among Wales’s oldest fossils.  The ‘what’s in a name?’ quiz was popular with children, and asked them to use the meanings of scientific names to match up the name with the correct fossil.

This was I Spy..Nature's  first venture into libraries, and showed that they have great potential as venues for taking the Museum’s collections and experts out into communities.

October 2014

Top 10 Stocking Fillers

Posted by Sara Maidment on 31 October 2014

 1. Taffywood Mugs

These Taffywood mugs from I Loves the ‘Diff always bring a smile to our faces with their mixture of witty puns and wordplay.  They’re a fantastic present for those living in Cardiff as well as a wonderful reminder of the city for those who have moved away.

2. Welsh dinner kitchenware

Bara Brith, Welsh Cakes, Cawl and Laver Bread, this lovely range of homeware from Victoria Eggs gets ours taste buds going. Hand printed and decorated, the tea towel and apron are made from 100% organic cotton and the mug is bone china. Perfect presents for Welsh foodies.

3. Set of 3 mugs

Te, coffi, sicoled – which to choose? These earthenware mugs are great when you need a warming cuppa of any kind. If making a choice is too difficult, buy a set of all three. These mugs are exclusive to Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales.

4. Bird and butterfly necklaces

We love these pretty necklaces from Ladybird Likes. The illustrations are from vintage French nature books which have been applied to wood and laser cut. Ladybird Likes are a small jewellery company based in London founded by self-confessed craft geek Zoe Jade and her charming necklaces and brooches are both delicate and striking.

5. Colour & Carry Satchel Kit

Stand out from the crowd and get creative with this colour and carry satchel. This bag comes with fabric pens so that you can colour it in and craft your own unique bag. Seedling products are new to the UK and their kits are full of inspiring craft ideas to fire up children’s imaginations.


6. Welsh Alphabet Jigsaws

 

These gorgeous wooden Welsh alphabet jigsaws make learning fun. Brightly coloured and made from sustainable rubber wood, they look great as well as being educational and come in dragon, dinosaur and crocodile designs.

7. Scrabble yn Gymraeg

 

Scrabble is the most popular word game in the world and is now available in Welsh. This junior version includes two games, a simpler version for younger children on one side and a more challenging game for older children on the other. For more Welsh language games for children, visit our online shop.

8.St Fagans coaster and placemats

These brightly coloured melamine coasters and placemats will bring memories of St Fagans flooding back. We commissioned local artist Wayne Bedgood to come up with the design and we are amazed at how he has squeezed so many buildings in. See if you can spot your favourite. Exclusive to Amgueddfa Cymru- National Museum Wales.

9. 2015 Calendar

The 2015 Amgueddfa Cymru- National Museum Wales calendar contains twelve images that capture the majesty of the mountains of Wales.  It includes works by Graham Sutherland, Peter Pendergrast, John Piper and Sir Kyffin Williams. . Exclusive to Amgueddfa Cymru- National Museum Wales.

10. Print on Demand

We love this painting by Pissarro of the Pont Neuf in Paris in the snow.  You can own a reproduction of this beautiful work or one of over 250 others through our online print on demand service. From seascapes to castles and from Monet to mountains, browse out print on demand service.

Every purchase supports the work of the Museum.

A Window into the Industry Collections

Posted by Mark Etheridge on 28 October 2014

During October we were fortunate to be donated this interesting gunpowder bag used at Curtis's and Harvey Ltd.’s gunpowder factory in Glynneath. Their monogram can be seen on the front of the cotton bag. It was used by the donor's great grandmother Elizabeth Thomas. She left school aged about 14 to work on a farm, but later began work at this gunpowder factory during the First World War. This timely donation allowed us to put this object on display at the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea in the exhibition “Working for Victory: Welsh Industry and the First World War” which runs until 15th March 2015.

This month we purchased three share certificates to add to our important collection of Welsh share certificates.

The first is for five £100 shares for The Abercwmeiddaw Slate Quarry Company Limited and is dated 1898. It was a Liverpool based company registered in 1876 to acquire the slate quarry of the same name at Corris which had been opened in the 1840s. The company operated as a middle size quarry (in 1882 it employed 188 men producing 4,000 tons of slate) until it was wound up in 1905 as the Welsh trade declined. A new company of similar name was formed in 1911 and reopened the quarry on a smaller scale, until ceasing to exist in 1938.

The second certificate is for one £50 share in the Pen-y-Bryn Slate Company Limited, and is dated 1882. Registered in 1881 to acquire slate quarries at Nantlle that originated in the eighteenth century and which had been worked on some scale since the 1830s. The company was a typical mid-sized concern, operating four quarry pits serviced by Blondins in typical Nantlle style. In 1883 it employed 240 men and produced 5,000 tons of slate. The company failed in 1887 and the quarry closed until 1895 when it was reopened on a smaller scale until the 1940s.


The final certificate is printed on vellum and is a £50 share in the Blaenavon Iron & Coal Company, and is dated 8 September 1836. This company was an early joint stock company (with an enormous capital of £40,000) established to acquire the iron works and collieries from the Hill family and their partners. The new company considerably expanded the works and began a new works at Forgeside, built many houses, and introduced steam locomotives, making the works one of the leading UK iron producers. It became a limited liability concern in 1864.

On 26th August 1892 at explosion at Parc Slip Colliery killed 112 men and boys. This new accession is one of two booklets of letters for the Tondu Explosion Relief (Cardiff) Fund which would have been sent out to raise money for the relief fund. They are dated Town Hall, Cardiff 3rd September 1892.

We have a small collection of objects and photographs relating to this disaster including a commemorative mug which can be seen here


This brick was manufactured at one of the Hedley Brothers collieries, probably in the Bryncoch area. It was recovered from the building known as St. Peters Schoolroom on Brecon Road, Pontardawe. Amgueddfa Cymru holds the Welsh national collection of bricks, and this is an important addition.

The final object this month is a colliery official’s yardstick (also known as Deputy's stick). It was used by the last N.C.B. Manager at Big Pit before it closed as a working mine in 1979. A yardstick was carried by officials as an aid in the process of testing for gas. Before about 1960 there was a hole at the top of the stick into which the deputy could fit the hook of his lamp in order to raise it into the roof to test gas. More recently a special sampling valve could be fitted onto the ferrule at the other end of the stick in order that gas samples could be taken using a sampling bulb which is then injected into a Garforth type safety lamp.

Mark Etheridge

Curator: Industry & Transport

Follow us on Twitter - @IndustryACNMW

#popupmuseum - How did it all go?

Posted by Sioned Hughes on 27 October 2014
Loading the van with the team
Loading the van with the team
The pop-up museum ready and set up waiting for its first participant.
The pop-up museum ready and set up waiting for its first participant.
Story cards with photographs at the #popupmuseum
Story cards with photographs at the #popupmuseum
The table with iPads and post-its
The table with iPads and post-its
» View full post to see all images

The pop-up museum was created over two days at the Wales Millennium Centre as part of the Welsh Museums Festival and the Museums Association conference between 9-10 October 2014.

We set up the cases, table, boxes, screen and various cardboard structures on the Thursday before the conference. 

It looked great, but we were all quite nervous.  Would anyone turn up? Would people bring an object in response to our call outs on social media? Would people participate and share their Cardiff stories and memories? Would the huge table at its centre attract visitors or put them off? 

Would Billy the Seal arrive safely?

We were about to find out if our experiment would work…….and thankfully it did!

What worked?

  • 1. The stuff we had already collected.

We were all really glad that we already had some material for the pop-up that provided hooks to show people how they could contribute. The story cards collected at previous workshops kicked things off. They gave people an idea of how they could contribute, and made the Cardiff theme obvious. The voxpops also provided people with another focus and showed that people had already shared their Cardiff story. This encouraged participants to be filmed sharing their story at the pop-up. 

  • 2. Taking photographs of participants

We took a photograph of all participants with an instant camera and pinned them to their story cards. This emphasised the personal aspect and made stories easier to find

  • 3. The big table in the middle with plenty of chairs.

This space really worked. It became a social space where people came together and shared their Cardiff story and a space where strangers started talking to each other. We piled Perspex boxes on top of each other along the middle and gradually filled them with objects over the two days. We encouraged people to write their comments about other people’s stories on post-its and stick them on the boxes. This added another layer to the interpretation. 

  • 4. Using iPads to show social media content 

We had built up interest around the pop-up on social media in the lead up to the pop-up itself, so it was good to continue this momentum. We used two iPads on the table as live labels that showed all tweets with the #popupmuseum #fflachamgueddfa hashtag. We used this as a way of highlighting interesting stories and providing information about what was happening at the pop-up over the 2 days.  We also experimented with iBeacons and placed content about some of the objects on that so that people could access it using their hand held devices. 

  • 5. We invited the Media and the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism! 

To keep the buzz around the pop-up museum going, we managed to generate press interest in the pop-up. The experience was filmed by s4C for Heno and by Cardiff TV. Deputy Minister Ken Skates also came to the pop-up and contributed his Cardiff story. He was really interested in the fact that we had created a museum in 48 hours that anyone could contributed to.

  • 6. Billy the Seal made it! 

Thanks to the huge effort of conservation staff across Amgueddfa Cymru, Billy made it to the pop-up. Billy generated lots of interest and was definitely a big pull to the pop-up. It was useful to have one star object that attracted the curious. Those who knew about Billy’s story couldn’t believe that she was actually there and that it was part of the museum’s collections. And those who didn’t know the story were…confused but intrigued. 

  • 7. Working with Cardiff Story, HLF, and Youth Forum members

You can’t set up a pop-up museum without a team. The input from our Youth Forum members was invaluable, making sure that the processes of the pop-up ran smoothly and making sure that participants knew what to do. Staff members form the Heritage Lottery Fund provided guidance and support throughout the pop-up process. Working with Arran Rees and Lucy Connors from the Cardiff Story and was a great experience and we are already planning to create a pop-up together again in the future. 

Make an Aria

Posted by Sioned Williams on 27 October 2014
Speed-dating session with composers and writers
Speed-dating session with composers and writers
Looking at objects from Museum’s collection
Looking at objects from Museum’s collection
Necklace made at St Fagans by convalescing soldier, Walter Stinson
Necklace made at St Fagans by convalescing soldier, Walter Stinson
The Italian garden, a possible location for an aria?
The Italian garden, a possible location for an aria?
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What is an aria? That was the question posed by Music Theatre Wales Director, Michael McCarthy to kick-off this very exciting collaborative project. The Make an Aria scheme is a partnership between Music Theatre Wales (MTW) and the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama (RWCMD) giving young composers an opportunity to have-a-go at opera. This time, they are using St Fagans Castle and the Museum’s collections as their inspiration. A group of composers from RWCMD teamed with creative writers will ‘make an aria’ from scratch.

So where do you start? A speed-dating session was a good way to establish the best creative match for composer and writer. When everyone was paired-up, curator Elen Phillips gave an introduction to the material for the arias – the story of St Fagans Castle during the Great War.

The Windsor-Clive family of St Fagans Castle were at the centre of events during these turbulent years; Lord Windsor as chairman of the Welsh Army Corps and Lady Windsor as President of the Red Cross Society in Glamorgan. Grief-stricken by the loss of their youngest son, Archer, who was killed in action, they opened the Castle grounds to set-up a hospital run by volunteer nurses or VADs.

The stories were brought alive by looking at objects from the Museum’s collections; a nurses’ uniform from the hospital, a delicate necklace made by one of the wounded soldiers and a field-communion set used on the battlefield. At this point we were joined by members of the Armed Forces community, the 203 Welsh Field Hospital Medics who gave us a completely new take on some of these objects and stories. It just proves that working collaboratively can bring some unexpected and rewarding results. We will continue to work with the Armed Forces in co-curating some of the exhibits in the new galleries at St Fagans but that’s another blog for another day.

We then led the composers and writers on a tour of the Castle and grounds; the old site of the WW1 hospital, the Italian garden where the soldiers recuperated and the greenhouses where the land girls may have worked. Any of these locations could be the setting to perform the arias in the summer of 2015. I think that everyone left with their heads bubbling with ideas. All we can do now is wait.

  • National Museum Cardiff

    National Museum Cardiff

    Discover art, natural history and geology. With a busy programme of exhibitions and events, we have something to amaze everyone, whatever your interest – and admission is free!

  • St Fagans National History Museum

    St Fagans

    St Fagans is one of Europe's foremost open-air museums and Wales's most popular heritage attraction.

  • Big Pit National Coal Museum

    Big Pit

    Big Pit is a real coal mine and one of Britain's leading mining museums. With facilities to educate and entertain all ages, Big Pit is an exciting and informative day out.

  • National Wool Museum

    National Wool Museum

    Located in the historic former Cambrian Mills, the Museum is a special place with a spellbinding story to tell.

  • National Roman Legion Museum

    National Roman Legion Museum

    In AD 75, the Romans built a fortress at Caerleon that would guard the region for over 200 years. Today at the National Roman Legion Museum you can learn what made the Romans a formidable force and how life wouldn't be the same without them.

  • National Slate Museum

    National Slate Museum

    The National Slate Museum offers a day full of enjoyment and education in a dramatically beautiful landscape on the shores of Llyn Padarn.

  • National Waterfront Museum

    National Waterfront Museum

    The National Waterfront Museum at Swansea tells the story of industry and innovation in Wales, now and over the last 300 years.

  • Rhagor: Explore our collections

    Rhagor (Welsh for ‘more’) offers unprecedented access to the amazing stories that lie behind our collections.