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A gem of an exhibition at National Museum Cardiff

During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century it was unheard of for a woman to collect minerals. However, the social status of women at that time didn’t stop one Lady Henrietta Antonia, Countess of Powis, who assembled a fine collection of minerals from around the world at a time when activities were dominated by men. Now this exquisite collection of minerals will be on show for the first time at National Museum Cardiff from 14 December to 31 March.

Lady Henrietta Antonia, daughter of Henry Herbert, 1st Earl of Powis, married Lord Clive (later Lord Powis) in 1784. The exhibition describes, for the first time, the history of this forgotten collection which, having previously been housed at Powis Castle, was donated to Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum of Wales by the Earl of Powis in 1929. At that time it was uncertain who had created the collection but the recent rediscovery of Lady Henrietta’s original handwritten catalogues, dated 1817, has revealed the true significance of the collection.

Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales holds one of the finest mineral collections in the United Kingdom comprising in excess of 30,000 specimens. The Geology Department has a small team of mineral experts who work on the characterization of the minerals and mineral deposits of Wales, comparing them with examples from around the world.

Dr Richards Bevins, Keeper of Geology, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, said, “This is a fantastic collection of minerals which is without doubt worth a visit! The recently rediscovered catalogues not only provide a fascinating insight into how she acquired the minerals, the people the Countess of Powis met and the places she travelled, as well as demonstrating how organised she was, with each specimen individually numbered and described. “

Entry to National Museum Cardiff is free, thanks to the support of the Welsh Assembly Government.

Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales operates seven museums across Wales National Museum Cardiff, St Fagans: National History Museum, National Roman Legion Museum, Caerleon, Big Pit: National Coal Museum, Blaenafon, National Wool Museum, Dre-fach Felindre, National Slate Museum, Llanberis and the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea.

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For more information, please contact Lleucu Cooke, Communications Officer, Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales on 029 2057 3175 or e-mail: lleucu.cooke@museumwales.ac.uk

Date: 16 December 2010
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