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Today at National Museum Cardiff we are celebrating the very first International Polychaete Day, held in honour of a great polychaetologist, Kristian Fauchald who sadly passed away on the 5th April this year. Today would have been his 80th birthday, and museums and scientists are celebrating the wonderful diversity of marine bristleworms across the globe.

Polychaetes or marine bristleworms are a diverse group of segmented worms related to earthworms and leeches, and are abundant in marine and estuarine environments. Often the dominant animals living in seabed environments, they have important roles in marine food chains and reprocessing of nutrients, but are also indicators of the health of seabed habitats. The Museum has been carrying out research into this fascinating group since the 1980s and is the largest repository of Welsh polychaetes globally.

In honor of the day, we have published a story of our #WormWednesday Tweets for the last six months and we have been tweeting via the #InternationalPolychaeteDay hashtag.

Why not follow @CardiffCurator to find out more or read our Storify about the day's events on social media.

Inspired by Kristian's famous 'Pink Book' for identifying polychaete worms everywhere, we have today released a special pink version of the logo for the 12th International Polychaete Conference, which will be held at the museum next August.


Climate-change study in your own school yard
Science & Geography (KS2)


Make use of your outdoor classroom! Join the 175 schools taking part in this exciting investigation.


Spring Bulbs for Schools provides primary school pupils with the opportunity to adopt, study and record the development of spring bulbs as part of a spring watch network. Each pupil will receive a Tenby Daffodil, Crocus bulb and garden pot to record growth and flowering times.

Through collecting and comparing real data pupils discover how our changing climate is affecting our seasons and what this means for ourselves and the nature around us. Pupils take part in Professor Plant's Challenges to receive a super scientist certificate.

Any schools in Wales can take part as results are collected over the internet (or by post if necessary). This is an on-going investigation which means schools can take part year after year.

To apply for Spring Bulbs for Schools 2015-2016 please fill out the online application form by following the link below.

Application are now open but numbers are limited so apply soon to ensure your place on the project! Application is only open to schools in Wales. Recruitment for English and Scottish schools has closed but please contact The Edina Trust for information about taking part in the project 2016-2017.

Spring Bulbs for Schools - Application form

For enquiries please Email SCAN

This sculpture donated this month is titled “Welsh Anthracite Collier”. The original was created by George Brinley Evans in 1963, and this version was cast in bronze by Mark Halliday in 2012.

George Brinley Evans worked at Onllwyn Colliery and, as an artist, the material he most often used was household emulsion and watercolour on cheap paper. He recorded miners' working methods and technical expertise and resilience in the face of danger. After losing an eye in a mining accident in 1961, he turned to modelling figurines of his workmates and national heroes, using cheap and alternative material, usually a wire armature covered in layers of old nylon stockings soaked in plaster, which is then teased into shape and sprayed with car paint. This sculpture was created in the same way, with this version cast in bronze. It has then been sprayed black by the artist. The pose looks unnatural, but the artist is depicting the awkwardness of men mining in small spaces.

More examples of his work can be seen here, on the ‘Images of Industry’ online database. His work “Aros am Golau” is on display in the galleries at Big Pit: National Mining Museum.

17th May 2015 was the 50th anniversary of the Cambrian Colliery explosion. The explosion, caused by firedamp, claimed 31 lives, the youngest victim being only 24 years old. This images shows the front cover of the programme for the 50th anniversary memorial service. This programme along with a souvenir publication "The Old Timer" released to mark the 50th anniversary was donated at the end of May.

These two photographs show Cambrian Colliery. The black and white one was taken from the south east in 1960. The colour photograph was taken a few years after the explosion in April 1967.

Amgueddfa Cymru has recently produced an edition of our ‘Glo’ magazine to commemorate this disaster. A copy can be downloaded here

This was not the first disaster at this colliery. On 10 March 1905 an explosion at Cambrian Colliery No. 1 resulted in the death of 33 men.

This badge inscribed ‘Rhymney Valley Support Group’ was produced during the 1984-85 coal strike. Donated recently it adds to an important collection of strike badges held by Amgueddfa Cymru. Many of these strike badges can be seen on display at Big Pit: National Mining Museum.

Mark Etheridge
Curator: Industry & Transport
Follow us on Twitter - @IndustryACNMW

 

Our first public event as part of this project will be this coming Saturday, 27th June 2015, at National Museum Cardiff. We will provide information and raise awareness on the threats faced by cultural heritage. In the afternoon, various speakers will give short, 15-minute talks on a variety of subjects. One of the speakers is Dr Toby Thacker, Senior Lecturer in Modern European History, Cardiff University, School of History, Archaeology and Religion.

Toby will be talking about Verdun in France. This is where the most intense fighting between the French and German armies took place in 1916, and ever since it has been the most iconic event of the First World War for the French. Around the town of Verdun a huge area has been declared as ‘terre sacrée’, or hallowed ground, and left as it was after the battle. This area includes several shattered villages, now deserted, and upwards of thirty different forts, many of which were badly damaged by shell fire from both sides during the conflict.

Some, such as Fort Douamont, are now kept as sites for tourists, school parties, and researchers to visit. The fort itself is mainly underground, but the steel gun turrets projecting above ground show extensive damage from shells and bullets. The earth around them is littered with shell holes, with fragments of metal and barbed wire, and the concrete emplacements are suffering from shell damage, and now from weathering. The whole site poses complex questions about memory, conservation, and heritage. More to come on Saturday!

Accidents happen: we drop our favourite coffee cup in the kitchen and it shatters into a million pieces; parking the car, we misjudge the distance to that bollard and, oops, scratch the car; the faulty television overheats and catches fire. We usually try to protect ourselves against such accidents by assessing the risk, and mitigate against risk to help us avoid accidents. We install smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and emergency stairs to help us get out of a burning building should the worst happen.

Our immediate thought in the event of a disaster is, quite rightly, the preservation of life. But objects that mean something to us are often a victim of disasters, too. This may be the family photographs getting lost in a house fire. Or it could be an entire historic building, which is important to the local or even national history. The very recent fire at Clandon Park House in April 2015 illustrates how quickly an important part of British social and parliamentary history can be destroyed (the Onslow family, whose estates this was, provided three speakers to the House of Commons over the centuries).

What if heritage is destroyed not by accident, but entirely purposefully? In 2013, a construction company in Belize destroyed a Maya pyramid to turn it into gravel for road fill. The pyramid was 2,300 year old – millennia of heritage, memory and civilisation were destroyed, incredibly, because the ancient structure provided a cheap and easy source of building material.

At other times, heritage – monuments, buildings, statues, or even individual objects – are the target of anger. In post-communist Eastern Europe, statues of Stalin or Lenin are being removed as symbols of power of a by-gone era. Palmyra, the prosperous Assyrian city in today’s Syria, has temples 2,200 years old, was first destroyed by the Romans in 273 AD, by the Timurids in 1400, and is now threatened once again with becoming a casualty of war and ideologies.

Whether you agree with the symbols and ideologies of the people who came before you, our own being is born from previous historic events. Our music, stories, architecture, even our state of government would be nothing without the histories that led up to them. To make sense of our modern world we need to remember – remember positive events for the good they are, and negative events so we can avoid dark hours of history repeating themselves. Ultimately, the past informs our present.

In this project, funded by Cardiff University Engagement Seed Funding, we explore the effect of armed conflict on stone surfaces, emergency planning and heritage salvage, strategies for post-conflict remediation, and construction of memories of WWI or post-communist Eastern Europe.

Dr Lisa Mol (Early Career Lecturer, Cardiff University, School of Earth and Ocean Sciences) works on the impact of armed warfare on stone surfaces, which links to heritage conservation and long-term strategies for post-conflict remediation. Lisa asks people to shoot with guns at pieces of building stone to study what happens on impact.

Building on his recently published monograph on the construction of memory of the First World War, and on sites of memory in Eastern Europe, Dr Toby Thacker (Senior Lecturer in Modern European History, Cardiff University, School of History, Archaeology and Religion) will cover the contested role of damaged historical sites in the construction of memory.

Dr Christian Baars (Senior Preventive Conservator, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales) is a member of the Welsh Government’s Emergency Planning Network Wales; he ensures the long-term preservation of museum collections, has experience working with the emergency services and will highlight the importance of preserving heritage for future generations while addressing the issues of looting and illicit trade in cultural objects.

If you are interested in this subject please follow our blog and come along to one of our events at National Museum Cardiff this summer.