International Museums Day: 18th May
Today on International Museums Day we are celebrating the magnificent range of museums in Wales. We have over 90 accredited museums, ranging from local industrial heritage to textiles and maritime heritage as well as the seven ‘hubs ‘of Amgueddfa Cymru–National Museum Wales in different parts of Wale. Each museum focuses on a different aspect of our rich and varied heritage, and best of all, these amazing places are free to enjoy.
One of the most innovative of these museums, is the award-winning St Fagans National Museum of History which, according to Visit Wales, is the most popular heritage attraction in Wales. Popular with all, St Fagans offers an immersive exploration of Welsh life through the ages. More than 40 original historic buildings have been re-erected since 1948 (the same year the National Health Service was founded) when St Fagans opened as the first open-air museum in the UK. Having recently undergone extensive development, St Fagans was awarded the distinction of the Art Fund Museum of the Year prize (2019).
Listeners to Neil MacGregor’s recent series The Museums That Make Us for BBC Radio Four celebrating the amazing range of museums to be found in all corners of Britain will have been intrigued by his visit to St Fagans.
David Anderson, the Museum’s director general, highlighted the sound recordings made by the Museum as one of their most precious but little-known curated aspects of ‘intangible heritage’. But of course, the wonderful collection of re-erected buildings also speak to people about the diversity of the lived experience of Wales right up to the recent past. There are buildings from north and south Wales, industrial and rural Wales, and buildings from diverse occupations, as well as church and chapel. All this in a park of 100 acres with a C16th manor house which was featured in the Commission’s Glamorgan Inventory : Vol. 4, The Greater Houses.
The Museums That Make Us – The National Museums of Wales, Cardiff – BBC Sounds
Neil MacGregor tours Britain’s museums to explore how the past tells us who we want to be.
The Royal Commission has collaborated with Welsh museums on many projects. More than twenty museum partners collaborated with the Commission on the 1914-18 U-Boat project: Commemorating the War at Sea between 2017–19. The most recent partnership is a project on wallpaintings in churches. One of the Amgueddfa Cymru–National Museum’s most visionary projects was the re-erection of the derelict church of Llandeilo Talybont complete with recreated wallpaintings as featured in our launch of Painted Temples: Wallpaintings and Rood-screens in Welsh Churches, 1200–1800/ Temlau Peintiedig: Murluniau a Chroglenni yn Eglwysi Cymru, 1200–1800by Richard Suggett. Neil MacGregor’s series asks: what are museums for in 2022? This building in a quite wonderful way shows that museums can take us back in time rather like a time machine to the experiences and way of life of our ancestors. In this case, Llandeilo Talybont church takes us back 500 years to the extraordinary visual experience of the pre-Reformation church.