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May 2014

Transforming Futures

Posted by David Anderson on 2 May 2014

Exactly one month ago to today, Amgueddfa Cymru launched two publications which set out how museums and other arts and heritage organisations can help achieve the essential goal of equity of opportunity for all children to develop their talents. In this blog, David Anderson, Director General of Amgueddfa Cymru, shares his views about both publications and why this work is important.

A few years ago, I was involved in a project run jointly with a children's charity to offer creative design projects for children in care. Their work was exhibited in the galleries of a museum. One girl made a quilt that I still vividly remember. On it she had sewn the words, "Why does he get everything and I get nothing?”. I never learnt the story behind the words on that quilt, and perhaps it was too personal to share.

The earliest evidence of a child in Wales is the teeth of a girl aged 9 years, one of a group of Neanderthal humans whose remains had been washed into a cave in Pontnewydd, along with the bones of hyenas and other wild animals of that period. They have been dated to around 240,000 BC. Before her early death, this girl would have learnt her culture - making tools, cooking food, hunting, gathering flowers and burying her dead - from her parents and others in the group.

In a series he wrote and presented for Ulster Television in 1987-8 Professor John Blacking, the ethno-musicologist, said, "Every individual as a baby has thought in movement before thinking in words". Creativity is a movement of the body, he said. We are moved into thinking. For him, culture exists only in performance - for children as well as adults.

Not so long ago, children in Wales worked in workshops, factories and mines. They have always been makers of culture as well as recipients. Even today, children across the world make their own toys. Children in Western Asia still make carpets. The collections of museums are full of beautiful things made by children.

The extraordinarily fine Ardebil Carpet, that so awed and inspired William Morris, is believed by many to have been produced by the hands of children. The hardships endured by working children - in the past and today across the world - tell us what skills and creativity children are capable of, even under conditions of privation.

True creative cultural participation for children is not - or at least should not - be an option. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes the right to participation in the cultural life of the community as one of the five fundamental rights. Who are we to deny that right to children?

In 1942, the Beveridge report identified squalor, ignorance, want, idleness and disease as five giant evils that Britain should slay, and the Post-War Labour Government set out to do this. But Beveridge should have added a sixth giant to his list: cultural exclusion. In our own time, Kay Andrews and Dai Smith have between them written a modern Beveridge report for the cultural lives of children in Wales.

Among their many key messages are that we should commit to provide:

            (i) full ongoing creative participation - not just occasional access;

            (ii) as a right - not just an option;

            (iii) for every child - not just the few.

The cultural sector is Wales' second education sector. It compliments and enriches the school, college and higher education system. Each year, the seven museums of Amgueddfa Cymru alone serve approximately 250,000 schoolchildren and 750,000 children and adults in family groups. The creative, experiential learning that museums can offer has been shown time and again over the years to inspire children who, for the school system alone, are hard to reach.

Museums and other arts and heritage organisations have a vital role in inspiring, extending and developing each child's engagement with their cultural offer. But children's cultural lives are far wider than than can be found even in our national and local cultural institutions.

Every child has their own talents and potential. Is it bringing people together and making friends,  identifying plants, writing a diary, caring for older people, dancing, diagnosing faults and repairing machines, bee-keeping, telling stories, taking photographs, designing electronic circuits, playing sport, to studying birds and animals, shaping metal, writing and performing music, exploring, making others laugh, seeing patterns others miss, testing water quality, sharing skills, carving in wood and stone, and a thousand other ways to make the world a better place? Any of these, and a mind that is always curious, critical and open to new ideas and experiences.

Some children want to become Billy Elliott and they should be supported in doing so . But most want to be something else.

The industrialist John Harvey-Jones said that everyone has talent; it is the job of the educator to help them to find it. And it is particularly the role of museums and other arts and cultural organisations to help children to find their talents in the sciences, arts and humanities, in a welcoming and social environment.

If we limit ourselves to telling children what we ourselves know, we do them, and future society, a great disservice. That would be not education but counter-education. Yet far too often - through a conservative and anti-intellectual mis-appropriation of our historic public purpose - it is counter-education that we offer.

These two publications on Transforming Futures set out these new agendas for museums and other arts and heritage organisations in achieving the essential goal of equity of opportunity for all children to develop their talents. Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales began work on them in 2012. But they very much compliment and support the recommendations of Kay Andrews' and Dai Smith's reports.

But whereas those reports were - quite rightly - principally concerned with national policy and infrastructure, the Transforming Futures publications are intended more to support cultural institutions on the ground. Among the recommendations of the Transforming Futures reports are proposals for:

            (i) fundamental changes in the work of cultural institutions themselves

            (ii) new research on effective practice by cultural organisations

            (iii) a new code of ethics for cultural organisations with principles to guide our work.

 

Poverty and exclusion in Wales - and across the UK - is growing year by year. We have an ethical responsibility to respond.

It is our task to create something new: a National Cultural Service for Children. Like health, education, housing and every other universal service, children's cultural participation must be developed locally, if it is to be effective, but within a national framework. 

We should not say we cannot afford it. When the Beveridge Report was completed in 1942, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer tried to prevent its publication, saying that it was unaffordable. Yet, a few years later, the post-War Attlee Government implemented the most radical programme of equality that Wales and the UK has ever seen.  

But decade by decade, as the NHS has provided health services free at the point of delivery, and comprehensive schools have given every child free education, the giant of cultural exclusion has continued to stalk the nation unchallenged.

We can change this. So that no child should need to say, "Why does he get everything, and I get nothing?".

Renewed Hope?

Posted by Katie Mortimer-Jones on 2 May 2014

The nest of Peregrine falcons in the clock tower appears to have failed, due to unknown causes sometime during the last week or so. However, after an absence of several days, both birds are showing renewed interest in the nest-site. Today has seen considerable activity with one bird visiting the nest several times and apparently busying itself tidying the interior while the other bird of the pair watched from close by. Although peregrines only have one brood each year, if the first brood is lost at an early stage they sometimes re-lay a second clutch, either in the original nest, or perhaps more often, at a nearby site. We now watch, wait and hope that a new clutch of eggs will be laid sometime in the near future and that these magnificent falcons will have more success the second time around.

Adrian Plant

A Window into the Industry Collections

Posted by Mark Etheridge on 1 May 2014

One major acquisition that entered the industry collection this month was a collection of 76 film negatives of collieries in South Wales. 61 of these film negatives show the reconstruction at Hafodyrynys Colliery in 1956. Two images showing the ongoing work are shown here :- 

 

 

Another object to enter the collection this month is this receipt is from the Dinas Steam Colliery Co. Ltd. to Mrs Thomas of the Graig Ddu Inn, Dinas, and is dated 3 December 1887. The Graig Ddu Inn was 100 yards from the colliery, and the tram of coal would have been delivered direct to the house.

 

This set of five British Coal South Wales Area rescue and fire fighting plans are for Marine/Six Bells Colliery. They are dated 23 September 1988. The five plans are stapled together, and the top one is shown here.

 

These two paintings are an important addition to our art collections relating to the coal industry in Wales. They were donated recently and are both oils on canvas. The first is dated January 1862 and is a portrait of Thomas Powell aged 81. Thomas Powell founded the Powell Duffryn Coal Company. In 1840 Powell sunk the first deep mine at Cwmbach, Aberdare. This was followed by further deep mines in Aberdare (Cwmdare, Abernant, Abergwawr, Middle Duffryn and Cwmpennar) and in the Rhymney Valley. At their peak these collieries produced over 400,000 tons of coal each per annum. Thomas was the world's first coal millionaire, and he died in March 1863.

 

The second painting shows Thomas Powell's eldest son, Thomas Powell Junior (1827-1869) with his wife Julia and son John, and dates to about 1862. The family along with the entire safari party they were part of were killed in Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) in 1869 whilst elephant hunting.

 

Mark Etheridge

Curatorial Assistant (Industry)

Follow us on Twitter - @IndustryACNMW

April 2014

Breeding failure

Posted by Katie Mortimer-Jones on 30 April 2014

It now looks that the breeding attempt by Peregrine Falcons in the clock tower has failed. All indications were that eggs were laid during late March and early April and if all had gone according to plan, they should have been hatching about now (eggs are usually incubated for 31-33 days). Unfortunately, no birds have been seen at the nest or perched nearby on the clock tower for several days now so it seems certain that the nest has been abandoned. We do not know why this breeding attempt has failed but the most likely cause is that the eggs have been eaten by predators, perhaps crows, ravens or gulls. Although peregrines only raise one brood each year it remains possible that the birds will make a second attempt to breed and we remain vigilant in case that happens.

Adrian Plant

13 WEEKS TO GO! WASHING PAPER. PART II

Posted by Maria del Mar Mateo on 29 April 2014

Hello everybody!

Last week we introduced you into the wonderful world of washing paper. This time, we are going to show you a video where you are able to enjoy a real process.

The lithograph prints were mounted in poor quality mounts and for that reason we decided to remove all of them. The prints were attached to the backing with an animal glue along the very top edge on the back. When put in a bath of water it can be removed easily with the brush. That is what you are going to watch in the video. Enjoy!

Super Scientist Awards 2014

Posted by Catalena Angele on 28 April 2014
Professor Plant

Daffodil drawing at SS Philip and James CE Primary School, England

Flowers at Ysgol Y Plas, Wales

Ninety five schools across the UK will be awarded Super Scientist Certificates from Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales this year, in recognition of their contribution to the Spring Bulbs – Climate Change Investigation.

Huge Congratulations to all these schools! They are listed below, is your school listed?

Thank you to every one of the 4200 pupils who helped this year! Thank you for working so hard planting, observing, measuring and recording - you really are Super Scientists! Each one of you will receive a certificate and Super Scientist pencil, these will be sent to your school around the middle of May.

Many thanks to the Edina Trust for funding this project and helping to make this all happen!

 

Winners 2014

Well done to our three winners for sending in the most weather data! Each will receive a class trip of fun-packed nature activities.

  • Ysgol Clocaenog in Wales
  • Abronhill Primary School in Scotland
  • Dallas Road Community Primary School in England

 

Runners Up

Each school will receive a gift voucher to purchase lovely things for your gardening projects.

  • Ysgol Gynradd Cross Hands in Wales
  • Wormit Primary School in Scotland
  • The Blessed Sacrament Catholic Primary School in England

 

Highly commended

Each school will receive certificates, pencils, flower seeds and herb seeds.

  • Abergwili VC Primary
  • Archbishop Hutton's Primary School
  • Arkholme CE Primary School
  • Balshaw Lane Community Primary School
  • Bleasdale CE Primary School
  • Burscough Bridge Methodist School
  • Carnforth North Road Primary School
  • Christchurch CP School
  • Combe Primary School
  • Coppull Parish Church School
  • Cutteslowe Primary School
  • Darran Park Primary
  • Freuchie Primary School
  • Gladestry C. in W. Primary
  • Glyncollen Primary
  • Kilmaron School
  • Raglan VC Primary
  • SS Philip and James CE Primary School
  • St Athan Primary School
  • St Blanes Primary School
  • St Ignatius Primary School
  • St Mary's Catholic Primary School, Leyland
  • St Mellons Church in Wales Primary School
  • St Michael's CE (Aided) Primary School
  • St Nicholas Primary School
  • St Patrick's Primary School
  • Stanford in the Vale CE Primary School
  • Ysgol Bro Eirwg
  • Ysgol Deganwy

 

Schools with special recognition

Each school will receive, certificates, pencils and flower seeds.

  • Auchengray Primary School
  • Britannia Community Primary School
  • Cawthorne's Endowed Primary School
  • Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor
  • Culross Primary School
  • Greyfriars RC Primary School
  • Holy Trinity CE Primary School
  • John Cross CE Primary School
  • Llanishen Fach Primary School
  • Red Marsh School
  • St Anne's Catholic Primary School
  • St Laurence CE Primary School
  • Woodplumpton St. Anne's Primary School
  • Ysgol Gynradd Dolgellau
  • Ysgol Terrig
  • Ysgol Y Plas

 

Schools to be awarded certificates

Each school will receive Super Scientist Certificates and pencils.

  • All Saints' CE Primary School
  • Balcurvie Primary School
  • Ballerup Nursery
  • Blenheim Road Community Primary School
  • Brockholes Wood Community Primary School
  • Brynhyfryd Junior School
  • Catforth Primary School
  • Chatelherault Primary School
  • Cleddau Reach VC Primary School
  • Cobbs Brow Primary School
  • Coed-y-Lan Primary School
  • Flakefleet Primary School
  • Glencairn Primary School
  • Golden Hill School
  • Henllys C/W Primary
  • Hillside Specialist School
  • Ladywell Primary School
  • Lakeside Primary
  • Lea Community School
  • Manor Road Primary School
  • Manor School
  • Milford Haven Junior School
  • Newport Primary School
  • Pinfold Primary School
  • RAF Benson Primary School
  • Rogiet Primary School
  • Rougemont Junior School
  • Scotforth St Paul's CE Primary School
  • St Bernadette's Primary School
  • St Gregory's Catholic Primary School
  • St John's CE Primary School
  • St Nicholas C/W primary school
  • Trellech Primary School
  • Tynewater Primary School
  • Woodstock CE Primary School
  • Ysgol Bro Tawe
  • Ysgol Glan Cleddau
  • Ysgol Iau Hen Golwyn
  • Ysgol Nant y Coed
  • Ysgol Rhys Prichard
  • Ysgol Santes Tudful
  • Ysgol Sychdyn
  • Ysgol Y Berllan Deg
  • Ysgol Y Faenol

 

Daffodil Drawing Competition 2014

Congratulations to the following pupils who produced some excellent botanical drawings! Winners will receive Bird watching kits with mini binoculars.

  • 1st: Abbey – Coppull Parish Church School
  • 2nd: Louise – SS Philip and James CE Primary School (Pink 3)
  • 3rd: Amelie – Stanford in the Vale CE Primary School

 

Well done, you have all done an AMAZING job.

Professor Plant

Constable goes down a storm in Cardiff

Posted by Stephanie Roberts on 25 April 2014

Last week we created a storm in the galleries at National Museum Cardiff with our Easter workshops. Families who took part got to make their own pop-up landscapes inspired by John Constable’s Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows 1831. This activity was part of the Aspire programme, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Art Fund.

Here are some of the mini masterpieces created.

We were impressed by the variety of skies! Some were stormy and brooding. Others filled with colour and light. Butterflies, bees, and a murder of crows all made an appearance – and, of course, some beautiful rainbows.

If Constable were alive today he surely would have approved! For him the sky was the most important part of a painting. It creates feelings, mood and emotions. I wonder what mood our families were in when they created theirs?

Whatever mood they were in at the time, they left the workshop feeling happy! Families were asked to complete the sentence ‘the workshop made me feel...’, and to hang it on our specially-created comments cloud. ‘Happy’ was the most popular response! Here are some others:

The workshop made me feel…

  • Happy happy and I loved it a lot - Jack
  • Interested because I like learning about Constable
  • Hapus fel y gog achos rwy’n hoffi celf a chrefft
  • Welcome ♥

 

Find out more:

Explore Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows 1831 with this interactive guide.

Download a free pack for teachers from our Learning Resources page.

Download our Landscape and Lights family trail

 

Aspire

Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows was purchased by Tate with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Manton Foundation, the Art Fund (with a contribution from the Wolfson Foundation) and Tate Members in partnership with Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service, National Galleries of Scotland, and Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum, 2013.

To secure the painting, a unique partnership initiative was formed between five public collections: Tate Britain, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, Colchester and Ipswich Museums, Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum and the National Galleries of Scotland. This initiative, named Aspire, is a five-year project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Art Fund enabling the work to be viewed in partner venues across the UK. National Museum Cardiff is the first venue to display the work.

WASHING PAPER??!!

Posted by Maria del Mar Mateo on 25 April 2014
Foxing spots. Lithograph print: Ready for the Sea by Muirhead Bone, 1917.

Foxing spots. Lithograph print: Ready for the Sea by Muirhead Bone, 1917.

Close up foxing spots image. Lithograph print: Ready for the Sea by Muirhead Bone, 1917.

Close up foxing spots image. Lithograph print: Ready for the Sea by Muirhead Bone, 1917.

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» View full post to see all images

Hope all of you had a good Easter!

Now is time to show you one of the most interesting process in paper conservation, the washing treatment. But, can we wash a sheet of paper once it is already made?? Yes, we can. Before washing we have to keep in mind how the art work was made, such as the stability of the ink, damage to the paper, etc. I need to test EVERYTHING to make sure I don’t wash it all away!

We only do the washing if the paper need it. In the lithograph prints we found some dirt, tears, folds, creases, stains and foxing*. Washing them would remove the dirt, some stains and foxing and at the same time would re-forms the hydrogen bonds between the fibres, reinforcing the paper strength and improving the appearance too.

After this process, we deacidified the prints to neutralize the acidity in the paper with an alkaline solution. The alkali reserve will remain in the paper, ready to act against future acidification.

 

*Foxing: reddish-brown spots (the colour of a fox) over the surface of the paper which can be caused by a mold activity or a chemical reaction due to metal impurities in the paper.

Exploring biodiversity in the Amazon

Posted by Adrian Plant on 15 April 2014

Adrian Plant continues his fieldwork in the Amazon in collaboration with Jose Albertino Rafael and Josenir Camara from INPA (Brazil’s national Amazon research organisation) in Manaus.

So far two field-trips to remote corners of the Amazon have been successfully completed. The first was to Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira high up the Rio Negra not far from Brazil’s borders with Colombia and Venezuela and the second to a major tributary of the Amazon along the border with Peru at Benjamin Constant.

The forests of the Amazon Basin are flood forests; they become seasonally inundated by the flooded river and the waters bring with them many of the nutrients essential to the forests great productivity throughout the region. This year the forest remains unusually wet for the time of year which has caused a few practical problems for field entomology.- it is an acquired pleasure to slosh around in deep mud and water searching for new and interesting insects under a constant plague of biting mosquitoes. Yet, to an entomologist this is more or less a definition of “fun”!

The biodiversity is amazing of course and many of the insects seen and collected are undoubtedly new to science but will require much study in more comfortable surroundings after returning from the field. Meanwhile, Adrian will shortly be setting out on a third fieldtrip, this time to a little known area  between the mouth of the Amazon river and French Guiana where many exciting discoveries will undeniably be made.

Smoggy London

Posted by Catalena Angele on 14 April 2014

London in the smog   bbc.co.uk

Help reduce air pollution to protect the Earth

Many top scientists agree that pollution levels are contributing to global warming

If you had been visiting London last week you would have noticed it was very smoggy, as if you were looking at everything through a dirty cloud! But what exactly is smog, and how is it different to fog?

What is fog?

Fog is a cloud on the ground! It is a natural part of the weather. It is lots of very tiny water droplets floating in the air. Fog helps plants by providing moisture and does not harm you if you breathe in.

What is smog?

Smog is a kind of air pollution. Smog is created when fog mixes with smoke and chemical fumes from cars and factories. Some of the chemicals in smog are toxic – this means poisonous! It is harmful to plants and animals and can be dangerous if breathed in.

The recent smog in London is a mixture of fog and pollution and a third ingredient – sand from the Sahara desert! The Sahara desert is a huge desert in Africa. Some of the desert sand is very, very small, like dust. Sometimes wind storms sweep up the dust and blow it thousands of miles to the UK. It’s amazing how far it travels!

Unfortunately, this mixture of fog and pollution and desert dust means that the London smog is not good for your lungs, and has made some people ill. Smog is one very good reason why we should all try to reduce air pollution!

So what can you do to help reduce air pollution?

Think about air pollution… What causes it? Can you think of 3 things you can do to reduce it? Why not talk about it in class and then click here to check your answers.  

Find out more information about smog click here. To see more picture of smoggy London click here.

Your comments, my answers:

Glyncollen Primary School: Sorry we were late again. We had a busy week as we are going to Llangrannog. We have had great fun doing this investigation. We can't wait to find out who has won the competition. We are going to tell the year3 class about it as they will be doing it next year. Thank you Professor Plant. Yr. 4. Prof P: Hope you had fun at Llangrannog! I am so glad you have enjoyed the investigation Glyncollen. Thank you so much for taking part!

Ysgol Clocaenog: Pen wedi disgyn ffwrdd! Athro'r Ardd: Wedi colli ei ben!

Gladestry C.I.W. School: Although the flowers were open earlier in the week, they have closed up again at the drop in temperature. Prof P: I can tell that you have learnt a lot about your planrs Gladestry, well done!

Many thanks,

Prof P

 

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