Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum Wales

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Wel dyna ni, dim ond cwpl o ddyddiau sy’n weddill nes bod @DyddiadurKate 1915 yn dirwyn i ben. Ceir ei chofnod olaf ar y 15fed o Ragfyr, ac mae’n rhaid i mi gyfaddef, â hithau ‘di bod mor selog yn ysgrifennu, ro’n i’n siomedig nad oedd hi wedi rhoi pen ar bapur dros gyfnod y Nadolig. Ro’n i wedi edrych ymlaen cael darllen am baratoadau’r Nadolig a’r Flwyddyn Newydd, ac wedi bod yn dyfalu p’un â’i gŵydd yntau asen o gig eidion fyddai’r wledd? Pwy fyddai’n galw heibio? A fyddai’r teulu’n mynychu gwasanaeth y Plygain? A fyddent yn addurno Tŷ Hen? Ac a fyddai Kate yn “gwneud cyfleth” neu’n “mynd i noson gyflaith”? Yn anffodus, nid oedd i fod, ond rhaid diolch iddi am y gwledd a roddodd i ni dros y flwyddyn.

Cyd-ddigwyddiad llwyr oedd i mi dderbyn copi mis Hydref 2015, o bapur bro Bala a’r cylch, Pethe Penllyn ac ynddo erthygl, ‘Noson Gyfleth Coed y Bedo, Cefnddwysarn’. Roedd cyfeiriad ynddo at deulu Yr Hendre, sef cartref genedigol mam Kate, yn ymuno yn yr hwyl. Felly, dyma fanteisio ar y cyfle i sôn am arfer hwn, oedd yn draddodiadol mewn rhannau o ogledd Cymru dros gyfnod y Nadolig a'r Flwyddyn Newydd. Byddai teuluoedd yr ardal yn cymryd eu tro i gynnal nosweithiau o’r fath, gan wahodd eu ffrindiau i'w cartrefi fin nos. Wedi gwledda, byddai pawb yn mwynhau rhyw fath o ‘noson lawen’, cyfle i sgwrsio, chwarae gemau, adrodd straeon, canu a thynnu coes, ond canolbwynt y noson fyddai tynnu cyflaith.

Dyma rysáit o’r Archif yn Sain Ffagan a gasglwyd o ardal Pennant, Trefaldwyn:

3 phwys o siwgr llwyd, meddal

½ pwys o fenyn hallt (wedi’i feddalu)

sudd 1 lemwn

¼ peint o ddŵr berw (neu ragor os bydd y siwgr o ansawdd sych)

  • Tywallt y siwgr a’r dŵr i’r sosban. Toddi’r siwgr yn araf uwchben tân gloyw, a’i droi'n gyson â llwy bren nes iddo doddi'n llwyr (gall gymryd ryw ugain munud).
  • Tynnu’r sosban oddi ar y tân, ychwanegu’r sudd lemwn a'r ‘menyn, a'u cymysgu'n drwyadl.
  • Berwi'r cymysgedd yn weddol gyflym am ryw chwarter awr heb ei droi o gwbl.
  • I brofi os yw’n barod - gollwng llond llwy de o'r cymysgedd i gwpaned o ddŵr oer. Os bydd yn caledu ar unwaith, mae’n barod.

Dyma gychwyn yr hwyl! Rhaid oedd tywallt y cyflaith ar lechen, carreg fawr neu garreg yr aelwyd oer wedi'i hiro â ‘menyn – dwi’n gwybod o brofiad pa mor danbaid boeth yw’r gymysgedd. Byddai pawb yn iro'i dwylo ag ymenyn (er mwyn arbed llosgi eu dwylo ac i ychwanegu at y blas a’r ansawdd) ac yn cymryd darn o'r cyflaith i'w dynnu tra byddai'n gynnes. 'Roedd hon yn grefft arbennig a’r gamp oedd tynnu'r cyflaith nes ei fod yn raff melyngoch. Byddai'r dibrofiad yn edmygu camp a medrusrwydd y profiadol, tra bo methiant ac aflwyddiant y dibrofiad yn destun hwyl i bawb. Gwyddom pa mor gymdeithasol oedd cymuned @DyddiadurKate, ac mae’n hawdd ei dychmygu’n rhan o’r hwyl a’r sbri!

Diolch i bawb sydd wedi dilyn y dyddiadur yn ystod 2015. Cofiwch ddilyn hynt a helynt Kate o’r 1af o Ionawr 2016 ymlaen, wrth i ni agor cyfrif newydd i drydar cynnwys dyddiadur arall o’i heiddo, a roddwyd ganddi i Archif Sain Ffagan ym 1970. Dyddiadur 1946 yw hwn, gyda Kate bellach yn briod, yn fam ganol oed, sy’n cofnodi ei bywyd ar ddiwedd yr Ail Ryfel Byd.

Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda i chi gyd, ac os ydych am roi cynnig ar wneud cyflaith – cofiwch beidio llosgi eich dwylo!

What do our museum scientists do out ‘in the field’? One of our museum scientists, Ray Tangney, has just returned from the Falkland Islands. See what he got up to.

"There are 3 of us, myself, Matt von Konrat from the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, USA, and Juan Larrain from the Universidad Catolica de Guayaquil, Santiago, Chile; and we were in the Falklands as part of a Darwin Initiative funded project, recording and conserving the lower plants. This means we were searching for plants such as mosses and liverworts (small, low growing plants that do not produce flowers).

We spent most of the time in ‘Camp’ (the name for the hinterland beyond the capital, Stanley), visiting locations in a 4 wheel drive on East and West Falkland, and on Pebble Island to the north. We estimate we found 14 plants that had never been found growing on the Falkland Islands before; 8 mosses and 6 liverworts.

I gave a talk about the project to the Falklands Conservation AGM. We also ran a school activity session at Fox Bay School. The children collected and created their own herbarium specimens, making them accessible for scientists in the future. They looked at mosses under a microscope and observed details they would never usually have been able to see in the wild. Image 1 shows the children being asked by Juan whether the plant is a moss or a liverwort! It’s a silver coloured moss we also have in Wales called, rather unsurprisingly, Silver-moss (scientific name, Bryum argenteum). In January, the Lower Plants Project Officer, Dafydd Crabtree, ran a similar activity session about lichens with the children. Have a look at some more photos from the Falklands Conservation Facebook page here.

We found a number of new records of mosses for the Islands during this trip. Image 2 shows a misty Mount Donald on West Falkland at about 600 metres above sea level. The moss Bucklandiella pachydictyon growing on rocks here was a brand new record for the Falklands. It wasn’t all sunshine. The next day on Mount Adam we had rain, sleet, hail and snow, along with strong winds!

A characteristic feature of the Falklands are sea inlets. Streams that feed into these inlets are an important habitat for mosses and liverworts. One moss (Blindia torrentium) that only grows in the Falklands is commonly found on rocks in these streams.

Tiny plants such as mosses are such a big feature of the Falkland Isles landscape. School activity sessions, as well as talks, are crucial to increase local knowledge of, and interest in, the unique natural environment of these fragile, beautiful islands in the Southern Hemisphere."

Linking Collections is a project that unites the natural science collections found in the museums across Wales. Put together these make up a distributed natural history collection for the whole of Wales, forming a part of our shared cultural and scientific heritage.

As part of this project a touring exhibition entitled ‘Stuffed, Pickled & Pinned: 50 Wonders of Nature in Welsh Museums’ has been developed. Formed from a selection of objects and specimens from across the regional museums the exhibition will visit 18 museums over the next three years!

In preparation for the tour the chosen specimens and objects were brought together at Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales. Here the Natural Sciences conservation team prepared them for their three year journey by creating packaging to protect them in transit, minimise the need for handling and, where necessary, provide an easy form of display.

The exhibition contains a very diverse range of natural history specimens and objects with many different packaging and display requirements. For a number of the specimens specific support mounts were made from a conservation grade of inert foam called Plastazote.

For other specimens it was possible to create a display mount that also provides support when in transit. A good example is the puffer fish. This has been mounted on black Plastazote that slides out of a Correx box that opens from the side. For extra support when travelling a thin strip of Plastazote is placed diagonally across the puffer fish and secured to the base with entomology pins.

A pickled (fluid preserved) adder from Llandudno Museum required some creative packaging to protect it when travelling. Two plastic tubs were cut to shape and Plastazote padding placed at each end. The specimen jar is then placed inside and empty space filled with acid free tissue. The plastic tub is then placed tightly within a thick black Plastazote box. 

An option for some of the fossils was to package them so that they could be displayed in their box. Plastazote with cut outs support the specimen and they can be presented as they are or at an angle on a Perspex support.

Old entomology boxes have also been put to good use as a way of creating a display case for collections of small specimens such as eggs and shells.

The Linking Collections Exhibition “Stuffed, Pickled & Pinned; 50 Wonders of Nature in Welsh Museums” opened at Powysland Museum on October 20th 2015. Further information can be found on the People’s Collection Wales website - http://www.peoplescollection.wales/collections/475828

Ruth Murgatroyd, Masters Student in Conservation at Cardiff University

As mentioned in my last blog post staff at Amgueddfa Cymru are working on the Hansen shipping photographic collection to enable this collection to be made fully accessible to researchers and interested parties. I also gave a background to the collection and the work staff and volunteers are doing on it – you can read it here. In this post I’ll explain a bit about the cataloguing process.

We are working at putting each individual negative onto our collections management database (CMS), where details of all the museum’s collections are stored. Each entry will record full details of the name of the ship, the date and place the photograph was taken, and the name of the photographer. This will allow us to do comprehensive searches. It will also include the medium (in many cases gelatin dry plate negatives, with some film negatives). We will also being adding as much historic details of the ship as possible, and one of our volunteers has been working on brief histories of some of the vessels. This collection comprises over 4,500 negatives, so you can appreciate the scale of the work needed to fully catalogue, store and digitise this collection. We have made good progress so far, having added a further 334 negatives since the last blog post, and now have 1,834 records on the system.

As staff are working through the collection we are also re-packing from old glassine bags into modern conservation grade four-flap envelopes specifically designed for the long term housing of glass plate and film negatives. We no longer use glassine bags for storage of photographic collections as under certain conditions, especially if exposed to moisture, the bags can stick to the glass and film negatives causing permanent damage. Therefore, where possible we are re-packing into conservation grade packing. The whole collection is stored in an environmentally controlled photographic store at the National Collections Centre, Nantgarw.

 

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

The focus for UK Disability History Month this year is how disability and disabled people have been portrayed in the past and present.

With this in mind, I revisited some objects in the collection at St Fagans which made an appearance on the Welsh Millennium Centre stage last year. These objects had been selected by Mat Fraser to be used in his keynote address at the Museums Association Conference in Cardiff, October 2014. Mat’s ground-breaking performance, Cabinet of Curiosities: How Disability was kept in a Box looked at museum collections and how we should reassess the ways we portray - or as in most cases - don’t portray disability.

One of the objects selected by Mat for his show was an early wheelchair, or ‘invalid chair’ as they were once referred to. At first, I was surprised that the chair was among Mat’s choice of objects for the simple reason that there wasn’t much to say about it. I later realised of course, that it was exactly the point he wanted to make.

When we initially received the request to list potential candidates from the Museum’s collections for Mat’s performance, we knew it wasn’t going to be an easy task. The Museum’s classification didn’t include a section on disability so the only way of searching was to systematically trawl through all of the index cards. The few invalid chairs in the St Fagans collection were catalogued under the theme of transport, among various wheeled vehicles, from agricultural carts to bicycles.

The chair was collected by the Museum in 1985 from a house in Cardiff along with other various objects but there was no further information in the file about the donor or its previous owner. So I started to do a bit of research.

It seems that this type of folding invalid chair would have been manufactured from the early 1900s up until the Second World War. It has a cane seat and back, and a wooden frame which means it’s not too heavy to manoeuvre. It was designed with two small wheels at the back so that it could be wheeled up and down stairs by two people without having to lift the chair ‘saving effort and reducing the risk of accident’. [1]

There’s no maker’s name on the chair but it’s very similar to models manufactured by the more well-known specialist makers from London such as John Ward, Tottenham Court Road, and Carters of Great Portland Street. Their products were advertised in newspapers and could be purchased from catalogues. Their ranges included the more expensive bath chairs with leather upholstery to basic chairs such as this example, costing around £3 in the early 1900s.

However, this was still expensive for the majority of the population. In the industrial south Wales valleys during the first half of the twentieth century, many medical aid societies would help with the purchase or loan of wheelchairs and mobility aids.[2] After the First World War the British Red Cross also lent surplus equipment such as bed rests and invalid chairs which could be hired out on a weekly basis – a service which continues today.

Without knowing why or who used this chair, we are still missing a big part of its history. Sadly, this is also true of most disability-related collections in museums. As Mat Fraser noted in his keynote address last year:

‘...but we know nothing about it, and this illustrates so many artefacts to do with disability – they have no notes. Nobody knows anything. So I suppose the only thing I would take from that is to say that when we have artefacts, we need to label them, we need to get the right people to write the right notes to accompany some of these artefacts because conjecture would be very different for every single one of us as to where this came from. And yet, none of us will never know the real truth which exemplifies and illustrates many points.

 

[1] The Concise Home Doctor Encyclopaedia of Good Health Vol 1, p.303

[2] Ben Curtis and Steven Thompson, ‘A Plentiful Crop of Cripples Made by All This Progress’: Artificial Limbs and Working-Class Mutualism in the South Wales Coalfield, 1890-1948’, Social History of Medicine (2014) 27 (4): 708-727.