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July 2014

Welsh Super Scientists

Posted by Catalena Angele on 8 July 2014

Welsh Super Scientists from Ysgol Clocaenog at the National Slate Museum

‘Little birds’ in the nest they built

Mini-beast hunting

Ysgol Clocaenog in Denbighshire was awarded first place out of sixty nine Welsh schools taking part in the Museum's Spring Bulbs for Schools investigation this year.

The Super Scientists won a fun-packed trip to the National Slate Museum where they learnt about the Story of Slate, looked for mini-beasts and built giant nests in the quarry!

Professor Plant: “Ysgol Clogaenog did really well in the Spring Bulbs investigation and sent in the most weather data out of all the schools in Wales! This really was an achievement as schools are getting better and better at recording and sending their data. It was lovely to meet the Super Scientists from Ysgol Clocaenog, we had lots of fun building nests and pretending to be little birds! We also learnt lots about Slate and I especially enjoyed watching the slate splitting!”

If you would like to take part in this project next term please complete the on-line application form:

Spring Bulbs for Schools - Application form

RESEARCHING FIBRES IN THE MICROSCOPE!

Posted by Maria del Mar Mateo on 3 July 2014
First image

First image

Close-up image taking a fibre sample

Close-up image taking a fibre sample

Third image

Third image

Working with the microscope at painting department

Working with the microscope at painting department

» View full post to see all images

Now it is time to research the fibres used during the paper making process in the different papers of ‘Effort and Ideals’ lithograph prints.

There are several methods to identify fibres such as the staining technique. The most common is Hertzberg’s Reagent which is used for paper fibres are based on iodine and zinc chloride. This type of stain is formulated to dye different groups of fibres differing colours. However, there are many disadvantages using this system because the specific colours stated for particular fibres are difficult to reproduce.

So, in this case we decided to take some samples of fibres of the prints and identify them under the polarising microscope.

In the first image, we are taking a small sample of fibres from one of the prints. We are using an invasive and destructive technique for that reason we have to be extremely careful taking the sample. Just shaving a little bit the very bottom edge we will be able to get enough fibres to analyse in the microscope.

In the third picture we are leaving the fibre sample on the microscope slide. After that, we will cover the sample with a cover slip and sealing with Meltmount (is a thermoplastic: it is fluid when heated and functionally a solid at room temperature; the appearance of the prepared slide will remain unchanged after the slide is returned to room temperature).

Once the sample is ready, we will work with it in the microscope. We took photos applying different magnifications.

In the fifth image, you can observe a detail of a linen fibre through the microscope. The term ‘linen’ covers a wide variety of material described as flax or linen. In both Europe and China flax has been used as a textile material since at least 4,500 BC.

The raw material after cutting and removing the seed head is retted in still or slow running water to slow process of bacterial decomposition. In some areas the process is carried out in a damp atmosphere only.

Linen is a bast fiber. Flax fibers vary in length from about 25 to 150 mm (1 to 6 in) and average 12-16 micrometers in diameter. Flax fibers can usually be identified by their “nodes” which add to the flexibility and texture of the fabric.

Other samples taken from the thinner prints revealed cotton as a main material. So in both cases we are talking about good quality paper fibres.

 

 

A Window into the Industry Collections

Posted by Mark Etheridge on 1 July 2014

Amongst the new accessions we received in June was a 14” Sony ‘Trinitron’ colour teletext television set with remote control. This was manufactured by Sony at Pencoed, Bridgend, in 1995. If you look back to the December blog you will see another television set we acquired recently.

 

This slate sample originates from Maenofferen slate quarry, Blaenau Ffestiniog. It is a sample slate sent out to potential customers to show the colour and quality of the slate produced in the quarry. There are a number of slate veins in the Blaenau Ffestiniog area, all of which have their own name, such as New or Deep Vein, the Old Vein, Back or Middle Vein, and North Vein. This particular sample is from the middle vein of Maenofferen Quarry.

 

We have been donated a lovely collection of 91 photographs, the majority of which show the redevelopment work carried out by the National Coal Board at Glyncorrwg Colliery during the 1950s. I have illustrated three views here. The first photograph shows the colliery as it looked on 11 September 1951 before the reconstruction work started. The view is looking north up the valley.

The following two photographs show the reconstruction work. The first showing a circuit gantry on 1 November 1955 and the second shows the reconstruction work progressing on the headgear, and was taken on 6 Feb 1957.

 

 

On the 17th May 1965 an explosion caused by firedamp occurred at the Cambrian Colliery, Clydach Vale killing 31 miners. The colliery had been winding down to closure, and many of the workforce had been transferred, otherwise the fatalities might have been even greater. This image is of the front cover of the brochure commemorating a memorial service held on 17 May 2014. It shows the headgear preserved within a memorial garden. 

 

Mark Etheridge

Curator: Industry & Transport

Follow us on Twitter - @IndustryACNMW

 

June 2014

Out with the old, in with the new

Posted by Sioned Hughes on 18 June 2014
The Agricultural Gallery emptied and ready for its transformation.
The Agricultural Gallery emptied and ready for its transformation.
Working with Event on designs for the new space.
Working with Event on designs for the new space.
Working with Event on designs for the new space.
Working with Event on designs for the new space.
Elen Phillips exploring the Suffrage collection with children from Ysgol Gymraeg Casnewydd
Elen Phillips exploring the Suffrage collection with children from Ysgol Gymraeg Casnewydd
» View full post to see all images

By: Sioned Hughes, Head of Public History

 It’s difficult to imagine that over the next couple of years the old Agricultural Gallery, largely unchanged at St Fagans for 20 or more years will be transformed as part of the Making History project. It will become a space that celebrates the fact that history belongs to everyone. It will be a platform where the museum shifts from being the provider of history to supporting and providing opportunities for others to explore meanings around diverse objects and make their own histories through participation and community curated displays.

 

Currently called by its working title Wales Is… we aim to display 17 moments in Welsh history using objects from the national collections. It will be a space where we encourage visitors to use historical skills to find out what the national collections can tell them about different moments in Welsh history.

 

The past few months have seen the Making History core content team work intensively with designers from Event Communications to develop this space. It’s an exciting, creative and intense process that involves looking in depth at our object selection and testing them against this exciting new concept.

 

To aid our current thinking and to generate discussion, we have stopped thinking about this space as a gallery and have started referring to it as a 3D social media account. Over the next few weeks we will be developing the idea of using social media as a conceptual framework for how the space works and how visitors will behave in it.

 

So far, we have identified that we would like the space to have followers and that it will follow other institutions or spaces that share relevant collections and opinions. We would like to ask visitors to Like, Share and Comment on what they see and provide opportunities to do this digitally and non-digitally, both in the space and remotely. We would like the space to have its own social media account and we would like its digital identity to develop as the content and the space itself develops – not as an add-on once it is open. We are looking at the possibility of tagging displays and objects so that content generated around them can be gathered and used as layers of interpretation. We want each display to have a social media feed on a screen as part of its interpretation.

 

The Public History Unit

Key to testing and delivering this space is the establishment of a new Public History Unit within the History and Archaeology Department. As a unit we have already facilitated workshops that support groups to develop historical skills to discover what objects can tell them about the past. These sessions have generated diverse, sometimes surprising, often emotional and occasionally controversial content that adds layers of rich and relevant interpretation to our storytelling.

 

In the space, we see the content generated around the displays, both digitally and non-digitally, as information that will be curated by museum staff. It will also be part of curatorial practise to manage social media campaigns around displays so that targeted audiences are reached. These campaigns will be supported by a programme of events and pop-up activities that can be used to generate interest and debate.

Suffrage Participatory Workshops

As part of the process for testing the content for Wales Is…the Public History Unit took the national suffrage collection to two schools in the Newport area as part of the Bird in a Cage project with Winding Snake. Within a few hours, over a hundred pupils from Lewis Girls School and Ysgol Gymraeg Casnewydd had seen and participated in a debate around the collections and suffrage movement in Wales. This is an example of how objects can generate content that is as interesting as the objects themselves. It demonstrates how groups and individuals can construct their own meanings around what they see. It also showed how social media can be used to generate interest and debate around a subject area.

The next challenge

The challenge will now be to work with Event to develop a design that can deliver this concept so that the outcomes of a participatory workshop can translate into a gallery context using the framework provided by Social Media. The questions we are asking ourselves at the moment are: is this workable? How can we use the information generated? What would a social media campaign linked to one of the displays look like?  How can we create a framework and strategy to help develop the digital identity of the space?  And most important of all, is this approach future proof? The Agricultural Gallery was popular at St Fagans for over 20 years. This new space will also have to stand the test of time and the changing behaviour patterns of our visitors in the future. 

TIME FOR PUTTING THE PRINTS IN MOUNTS!

Posted by Maria del Mar Mateo on 12 June 2014
Finished mount, the window and backing hinged together

Finished mount, the window and backing hinged together

Hinge glued onto the back of the print

Hinge glued onto the back of the print

Pasting the hinges with an adhesive

Pasting the hinges with an adhesive

Reinforcing the hinge

 Reinforcing the hinge

» View full post to see all images

Here we are again with more news about the lithograph prints conservation process. Now is time for mounting each print in its own conservation mount to be ready for the exhibition opening 2nd August in gallery 18 at the National Museum Cardiff.

Preparing the mounts where the prints will be housed for the next 100 years hopefully! The mounts are cut to the museum standard size, using 100% cotton alkaline buffered museum board (the most expensive available – but the highest quality). The back board is hinged to the mount using water based adhesive tape.

In the following photos you will be able to see how I attach the print to the backing of the mount. First of all, we attached the hinge to the back of the print on the top edge. The hinge is made with Japanese tissue. (Second Photo)

Then, in third photo  I am applying an adhesive over the surface of the hinge. This then folds back over and stick to the back board of the mount.

To reinforce the hinge we will glue another hinge over the top, creating a T hinge. This then allows the print to hang within the mount.

After one week making mounts for the prints we have already done 30 mounts.

Another 36 more to do and just 7 weeks to go… But we still need to make the frames and put them in…

May 2014

Flower Drawing Competition 2014

Posted by Catalena Angele on 30 May 2014

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

Congratulation to the winners of the Flower Drawing Competition 2014! Here are their excellent botanical illustrations.

  • 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

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 clear labels to show the different parts of the flower.

All of the drawing sent in were really fantastic, so I have put them all on our website for you to see! Well done to all of you.

Click here to view all the drawings.

Many thanks,

Prof P

A Window into the Industry Collections

Posted by Mark Etheridge on 30 May 2014

Amongst this month’s new accessions was an aluminium prop withdrawer, known as a 'buller', manufactured by Parsons. It consists of handle and rack, and was used in coal mines for pulling out roof supports (as well as other tasks). This one is unusual in that it is made of aluminium for lightness. However the use of aluminium was later banned (because of its tendency to induce sparking) after the Horden Colliery explosion in 1953.

 

We have been donated the following four badges manufactured in 2014 that relate to the 1984/85 miners’ strike. These include two limited edition badges to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the 1984/85 miners’ strike. The inscription on reverse reads “Forget not the / lessons of / our past”.

 

This badge with the slogan ‘Coal Not Dole’ issued by The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign which included ex-miners, Trades Unionists, activists and others determined to get justice for miners.

 

The final badge in this collection is in the shape of a miners flame safety lamp. WAPC-NUM stands for Women Against Pit Closures - National Union of Mineworkers, and was manufactured for their 30th Anniversary.

 

We are currently working on documenting an important collection of approximately 150 film negatives taken by E. Emrys Jones in the 1950s and 1960s. The negatives show the slate industry in north Wales, concentrating on the Dinorwig slate quarry. Many images are of the Dinorwig quarry workshops (Gilfach Ddu) which is now the Welsh Slate Museum, and part of Amgueddfa Cymru. Below are three images taken from this collection.

A general view of Dinorwig Quarry, 1950. It shows the ‘Wellington’ section of Dinorwig Quarry, with the Muriau Shed in the foreground, and the Ceiliog Mawr in the background.

 

This view shows loaded slate wagons outside Gilfach Ddu (now the National Slate Museum) in the 1950s or early 1960s.

 

This group of quarrymen are probably at Dinorwig Quarry.

 

This model of an opencast coal truck was manufactured from South Wales anthracite coal. It is inscribed OPEN CAST / EXECUTIVE.

 

With 2014 being the centenary of the start of the First World War it is poignant that we have acquired a collection of photographs and documents relating to Captain Anthony Starkey of Bristol. Capt. Starkey was master of the S.S. Torrington which was torpedoed and sunk off the Scilly Isles in April 1917. 34 members of the crew were killed, and Capt. Starkey was the sole survivor. He was taken from the ship and held as prisoner aboard the U-boat for 15 days. He was then held in four different prisoner of war camps in Germany (including Brandenburg, Holminden and Strohenmoor).

This view shows the S.S. Torrington with an inset portrait of Capt. Starkey.

 

This photograph shows Capt. Starkey during his internment in Germany. It will have been taken in one of the four prisoner of wars camps in Germany that he was held in.

 

Mark Etheridge

Curatorial Assistant (Industry)

Follow us on Twitter - @IndustryACNMW

 

Overcoming the Taxonomic Impediment in the Amazon

Posted by Adrian Plant on 28 May 2014

An undescribed Hemerodromiinae from the Amazon

Another undescribed Hemerodromiinae from the Amazon

It is well known that the Amazon rainforests are amongst the most biodiverse places on the planet. However, much of this biodiversity remains completely unknown having never been formally described and with absolutely no knowledge of the ecological and other conditions required for its survival. This profound lack of scientific knowledge arises from what is called the Taxonomic Impediment - there simply are too few taxonomists (people who can identify and describe living things) to get to grips with the magnitude of biodiversity. The Taxonomic Impediment is a world-wide problem as taxonomists themselves have become endangered species and few, if any, countries now devote sufficient resources to biodiversity research. There are many unfortunate knock-ons from this fact; for example designing rational conservation strategies is difficult without knowledge of the animals and plants that live in an area and some knowledge of why. It is only taxonomists who can deliver this knowledge.

In the Brazilian Amazon the situation is improving with a major research institute Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia (INPA) now conducting extensive taxonomic research and training a new generation of taxonomists to lead in future biodiversity studies. One such trainee is Josenir Camara, a PhD student at INPA now spending 6 months as an intern at Amgueddfa Cymru under the tutelage of Dr Adrian Plant (Principle Curator, Entomology). Josenir’s research is describing the diversity of a group of aquatic flies (Hemerodromiinae). She has already discovered more than 50 new species, and using sophisticated cladistic techniques to understand more of their evolutionary relationships with related forms elsewhere in the world. The Museum’s extensive collections and taxonomic skills will be an invaluable aid to develop her research and the expertise and experience she develops will be lasting benefits she will take home to Brazil. A small but positive contribution to removing the Taxonomic Impediment in her own country.

 

 

 

Spring Bulb for Schools: Results 2005-2014

Posted by Catalena Angele on 27 May 2014

The ‘Spring Bulbs for Schools’ project allows 1000s of schools scientists to work with Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales to investigate and understand climate change.

Since October 2005, school scientists have been keeping weather records and noting when their flowers open, as part of a long-term study looking at the effects of temperature on spring bulbs.

Certificates have now been sent out to all the 4,075 pupils that completed the project this year.

See Professor Plant's reports or download the spreadsheet to study the trends for yourself!

  • Make graphs & frequency charts or calculate the mean.
  • See if the flowers opened late in schools that recorded cold weather.
  • See how temperature, sunshine and rainfall affect the average flowering dates.
  • Look for trends between different locations.
     
Many Thanks

Professor Plant

www.museumwales.ac.uk/scan/bulbs

Twitter http://twitter.com/Professor_Plant

From Amazonian Rainforest to Welsh Rain!

Posted by Katie Mortimer-Jones on 23 May 2014

Collecting insects in the Amazon

Josenir Camara on the Javari River 

Mountains at Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira on the Rio Negro

Brazilian PhD student Josenir Camara is working with Dr Adrian Plant, Principle Curator of Entomology at Amgueddfa Cymru, on a three-year project to describe some of the diversity of Diptera (flies) inhabiting the rainforest of Brazil’s Amazon Basin. The two researchers have already made numerous collecting expeditions to remote parts of the Amazon, but now they are both back in Cardiff where Josenir will spend the next six months studying at the Museum. As a part of her research she will describe all the Amazonian species of a group of water-inhabiting flies known as Hemerodromia. She already has more than 50 species that are completely new to science and once these have been formally described, the next task is to construct an evolutionary tree showing how the Amazonian Hemerodromia have diversified in respect to Hemerodromia elsewhere in the world. This is where Amgueddfa Cymru comes in as our extensive collections will provide her with an invaluable resource she can use to compare how Amazonian species differ from others. By careful comparison of ‘characters’ of each species and using sophisticated computing methods, Josenir will construct a ‘phylogenetic tree’ to illustrate the sequence of evolutionary changes that have occurred. By comparing the evolutionary tree with the fossil record, geological and climatic history it is hoped that we start to learn more about the biogeography of the Amazon (biogeography is the study of how species and communities or organisms become distributed both geographically and through geologic time).

 

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