Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum Wales


We are delighted to welcome our new intern, Theo Tamblyn, to the Invertebrate Diversity Section of the Department of Natural Sciences. Theo is currently in his gap year between A Level’s and university and is looking into studying an Earth Sciences degree at either Bristol University or UCL next year.  Theo’s passion for the natural world started at a young age, firstly with a focus on insects, which then evolved into collecting and learning about shells (molluscs), aided by his 8 year membership to the Conchological Society of Great Britain & Ireland. He is no stranger to the Department, having already undertaken work experience with the Mollusca Curators whilst still at school, and Theo is keen to work with us once again. So, what will he be doing...


The Ted Phorson collection

Theo will be spending a total of 3 months with us curating and databasing the Ted Phorson collection, which was bequeathed to us in 2006. This collection, although primarily British marine molluscs, also contains lamp shells (Brachiopods), seed shrimp (Ostracods) and a group of miniscule marine seafloor dwelling animals known as forams (Foraminifera). It is a complex collection consisting of a mixture of microscope slides, growth series, loose micro-specimens and larger shell material. You can see from Figs. 3 and 4 that the slides and growth series in particular are often extremely beautiful.


Small but perfectly formed

The uniqueness of Ted Phorson’s collection comes from the fact that he meticulously picked out the tiny shells found in fine un-sieved shell-sand, therefore capturing the juveniles (young) of many species. Juveniles are an ongoing problem for scientists, with very few illustrations published of even the most common species, and so a reference collection like Ted Phorson’s is invaluable. The work that Theo carries out will make this collection accessible for the first time - it can then be utilised for Museum research projects such as the Marine Bivalve Shells of the British Isles, as well as being a useful resource for external users.

We are grateful to the Conchological Society of Great Britain & Ireland who have kindly part-funded Theo Tamblyn’s internship.

Conservators are a misunderstood race. When we start talking about what we do (conservation, of course), many people see us cuddling pandas and elephant babies. Some of us do indeed work with elephants – but generally only long after their demise. Because we protect not the living from dying, but the dead from decaying.

Natural and cultural heritage (for a definition, please see here) does not last forever. In fact, heritage can be incredibly ephemeral. In the museum context, just think of all the materials we hold in store: paper, wood, bone, feathers, leaves, glass, ceramics – all things that can break or decompose easily. But this just happens to be what your heritage is made of. All those objects making up our cultural treasure chest are in constant danger of breaking, getting mouldy, being eaten by insects, falling apart.

It is the job of your friendly museum conservator to make sure your children and your children’s children will still have that cultural reference point in many years to come. This requires a lot of work, all of the time – the rot never sleeps. Usually, only when things go wrong do conservators end up in the news. Most of the time, these highly skilled and experienced people go about their jobs unseen, in laboratories and studios deep in the bowels of museums, or in the galleries long after closing time.

To be a conservator today requires years of training, and rightly so – our heritage is too precious to risk gluing a beard back on wonky and with the wrong type of glue. The National Museum’s team of 20 conservators cares for approximately three million objects. These collections are hugely varied: the museum collects helicopters, microfossils, skeletons, oil paintings, mobile phones, harps and 18th century ball gowns. Conservation is therefore definitely for the specialist.

Restoring a painting, cleaning a Viking sword or preparing a fossil dinosaur skull, let me tell you, is really not easy. If you want to do it well it takes knowledge of materials, history and analytical sciences, experience and skill. Is it any easier to store things? Well, no, actually, to store objects correctly – that is, without inviting decay – the store must be dry (but not too dry!), cool, clean, free from pests, well organised, and have the right type of shelving for whatever we are storing.

Do you now want a chance to find out what a conservator is and what they really do? If you have a coin bring it along to our first Museum Conservators Open Day – we’ll show you what it’s made from during half term week: 27th October 2015 at National Museum Cardiff. You can play the X-ray game (perfectly safe, promise!), find out what creepy-crawlies are eating our collections and your wardrobe at home, and try your hands at conservation skills. All for free from 10am to 5pm!

Ymhen dim bydd y Nadolig yma eto ac rwy’n siwr bod llawer ohonoch eisoes wedi dechrau ar eich rhaglen ymarfer corff yn barod ar gyfer dathliadau’r Ŵyl.  Ond, os nad yw loncian ar balmentydd caled neu chwysu yn y gampfa yn apelio, beth am ddechrau gan bwyll bach trwy ymarfer y tafod yn gyntaf?

Ar nosweithiau oer o aeaf cyn dyfodiad y radio, y teledu a gemau cyfrifiadurol i'r cartref, byddai’r teulu yn ymgynnull o amgylch y tân ac yn creu eu difyrrwch eu hunain trwy adrodd storïau a rhigymau, datrys posau llafar a rhoi cynnig ar ynganu clymau tafod. 

Bu clymau tafod yn rhan bwysig o adloniant yng Nghymru dros y blynyddoedd a cheir llawer enghraifft yn Archif Sain Amgueddfa Werin Cymru.  Mae eu hadrodd  yn fodd i feithrin y cof, i ymarfer llefaru yn glir a gofalus ac i reoli’r anadl.  Pa ffordd well i baratoi ar gyfer partïon y Nadolig?

Dyma rai enghreifftiau o’r archif.  Allwch chi eu hynganu’n gyflym, yn glir ac yn gywir ar un anadl?


Cwrci Cathlas

Yn gyntaf, cwlwm tafod ar gof Mary Thomas, Ffair Rhos, a recordiwyd gan yr Amgueddfa yn 1979:

          Ma cwrci cathlas yn tŷ ni.

          Ma cwrci cathlas yn tŷ chi.

          Ond ma’n cwrci cathlas ni yn saith glasach na’ch cwrci cathlas chi.


Iechyd Da i Ni’ll Dau

Ar recordiad arall mae Dr W. Grey Hughes, Waunfawr, a recordiwyd yn 1971, yn cofio cymeriad o’r ardal yn codi ei gwpan mewn te parti ac yn adrodd y canlynol:

          Iechyd da i ni’ll dau.

          Os ‘dy nhw’ll dwy’n caru ni’ll dau fel ‘da ni’ll dau'n caru nhw’ll dwy,

          iechyd da i ni'll pedwar. 

          Os nad yw nhw’ll dwy'n caru ni’ll dau fel ‘da ni’ll dau'n caru nhw’ll dwy,

          iechyd da i ni’ll dau, a gadal nhw’ll dwy o’r neilltu.


Englyn i’r Pry’ Cop

Ac i gloi, dyma un o’m hoff enghreifftiau i yn yr archif.   Adroddwyd y cwlwm hwn gan Lewis T. Evans, Gyffylliog, a recordiwyd yn 1971.  Englyn heb gytsain i’r pry’ cop:

          O’i wiw ŵy i wau e â; - o’i ieuau

                       Ei weau a wea;

                 E wywa ei we aea,

                 A’i weau yw ieuau iâ.


Mae llawer yn cofio clymau tafod a adroddwyd iddynt gan eu rhieni neu aelodau arall o’r teulu.  Oes gennych chi ffefryn?

This is a short introduction to one of the Archive collections held at St Fagans: National History Museum. The Paper archive consists of 35,000 items relating to Welsh Social and Cultural History.

Whose story does it tell?

This archive gives us a picture of people's everyday lives in Wales during the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries and up to the present day.

What does it contain?

It contains among other items diaries; letters; trade account books; memoirs; linguistic studies; local history and folklore; traditional recipes; notes on traditional medicines; records of traditional buildings; agricultural records; educational and school records and a large collection of folk music.

A Recent Donation – Letters written by Ffransis Payne between 1935-1936

Ffransis Payne was Keeper of Collections at the Welsh Folk Museum (now known as St Fagans: National History Museum) and worked alongside Dr. Iorwerth Peate. Recently, his son Ceri Payne collated and then donated to the Archive extracts of letters, his father sent to his mother before they married in the period 1935 to 1936.

Ffransis was born in Kington in Herefordshire and previously worked as a farm hand in Cardiganshire, Monmouthshire and Glamorganshire. He also worked in the steelworks of Ebbw Vale, in the rail yards of Neath, as a clerk in Glasgow and as a book seller back in Cardiganshire.

He became an Archivist in Swansea in 1934 and was then appointed Assistant in the Department of Folk Culture and Industries at National Museum Cardiff in 1936.

In his letters to his future wife Helly Bilek, a 19 year old from Austria, he discusses international events (the rising tensions on the continent pre Second World War); Welsh political problems (a clash between unemployed workers and the Welsh National Party in May 1936 during the Pwllheli Annual Fair, regarding the Government's proposal to build a new air base and bombing school at Porth Neigwl) and a comment from his friend Saunders Lewis on the event.

The letters also contain comments about his work at the Museum and items collected and researched by him, and finally domestic observations about living and working in Cardiff during this period.

Wednesday, 15th of April, 1936 - I have just been listening to the news on the wireless. The situation in Austria is serious, it was said, and frontier troop movements etc. .......there is a month for us to see what will happen...
Western Mail, Monday May 25th,1936 - "Fight at Welsh Air Base Protest Meeting, Nationalist Party Leaders Clash with Unemployed"
Tuesday, 26th May, 1936 - I had a talk with Saunders Lewis today. He says the newspaper report exaggerated. He certainly seems unruffled.
Tuesday, 30th June, 1936 - My first real job has been assigned to me, it is making a catalogue and guide to the Museum's collection of samplers!!
Sunday, 5th July, 1936 - As for my work at the museum. I was and am quite serious. If you are interested in people and ways of life, you will find plenty to interest you in my work.

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.