Amgueddfa Blog

“Codi i’r Wyneb - Brought to the Surface” is a project on freshwater snails led by the Museum’s Department of Natural Sciences, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. For more information on the project I recommend reading; Shells at the Surface of “Brought to the Surface” (January, 2019) and “Brought to the Surface” Now in Full Flow (June, 2019). 

Ben and I have been busy since the last blog entry in June 2019! We took our project on tour, visiting a variety of different public events, training workshops and conferences. As a result, we have had the pleasure of engaging with a bunch of interesting people. 1,263 people to be exact! This has included professional consultants, scientific researchers, amateur naturalists, keen gardeners and more! We would like to thank you all so much! Your commentary and feedback has supported us on our way to producing an identification guide for environmentalists of all ages and backgrounds.

Snail Safari was one of our favourite public events of the last year. The bilingual educational workshop was designed for children aged 8-11 and was held at St Fagans National Museum of History. The purpose of the event, which consisted of two separate sessions, was to simulate and promote the type of work that we, as taxonomists, carry out at the museum.

For the introductory session we led the group on a safari to survey the ponds and lakes in the gardens at St Fagans. With nets and buckets the children collected freshwater snails to examine back at the classroom where, many of them were given a chance to use a microscope for the first time! The Gweithdy carpentry workshop served as an excellent impromptu laboratory with plenty of space for the group to lay out trays of pond water for sifting. The session ended with a lively competition to find the biggest and/or fastest snail. The enthusiasm displayed by the group impressed us so much, that we decided to kick it up a notch for the second session.

Inspired by Guess Who, Guess Whorl is a competitive card game in which players take turns asking questions about identifying features. The goal is to deduce the identity of a mystery freshwater snail species using the process of elimination, with questions such as, “Does your snail have a pointy shell?” or “Does the shell have stripes?”. The indoor Snail Safari session consisted of an exciting tournament to award the best taxonomist and Guess Whorl player in the group. Driven by the competitive element, the children became fascinated by our card game and the variety of different snail shells illustrated on the cards. With 17 species to guess from and 9 different identifying features, Guess Whorl kept us occupied for an entire afternoon!

By the end of the session, the group had learned about the differences between types of British pond snails and how to deduce and describe those differences in the same way as a taxonomist might. With some nets and buckets, a few laminated cards, and a bit of ‘thinking outside the box’ we delivered our favourite workshop yet.

Guess Whorl can now be used as a useful teaching tool for a variety of future public engagement events. With some adjustments, we think that the card game could be used for training purposes in identification courses for professionals as well as beginners!

We would like to thank Ian Daniel from St Fagans for his enthusiastic approach and brilliant improvisational skills. Thank you to the children from Ysgol Plasmawr, Ysgol Bro Edern, Ysgol Glantaf, and year 7,8 and 9 ladder group and platform group from Cardiff West Community High School, for taking part in our Snail Safari.

In the first part of my blog I discussed a little about the role myself and two fellow volunteers undertook when completing an exhibition evaluation placement as part of the ARTIST ROOMS: August Sander exhibition at National Museum Cardiff. In this second part I would like to explain more about why I applied for this placement and how my experience highlights the significance of recording exhibition evaluation feedback.

As this placement presented an opportunity to work with a photography exhibition, I wanted the chance not only to get to know the work of Sander but to gain an understanding of photography as an aesthetic and material format. Moreover, my primary area of art-historical knowledge is based around painting, print and decorative art. So, the placement offered me a kind of prompt to discover more about how photographs can be displayed to encourage diverse public interaction.

As well, I thought that aiding my understanding of why curatorial decisions are made regarding the display of photographic material, and especially how younger audiences can be reached though utilising particular curatorial strategies, would be beneficial. Exhibition evaluation, too, is something which I think is essential to help assess what elements worked, what didn’t and how visitor feedback could point towards creating more engaging displays in the future. Just as significantly, I was keen to take on a role that involved being a presence in the gallery, watch people interact with the work and listen to what they thought about it.

During the placement, the fact that we were physically situated in the Sander exhibition certainly permitted enjoyable conversation with a variety of visitors. Many had come specifically to see Sander’s portraits, but a sizeable number stumbled across the exhibition during their museum exploration. By talking with us in the gallery space, as well as being able to record opinions on the iPad surveys, feedback could be collected through conversation and, of course, directly via online survey for the more formal collective evaluation. Furthermore, we could relay feedback in relation to how visitors experienced and negotiated the different thematic and spatial parts of Sander’s show as we spent so much time within it.

Sadly, plans to extend the exhibition evaluation placement to encompass the Imagine a Castle: Paintings from the National Gallery exhibition, which ran concurrently to Sander’s exhibition, have been curtailed for now. However, I look forward to returning to spend time with the art and interacting with exhibition audiences soon!

Many thanks to ARTIST ROOMS, the Henry Moore Foundation and The Colwinston Charitable Trust for their support of the Exhibitions Programmes at Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales.

Mae'n hanfodol bwysig ein bod yn parhau i aros gartref ac aros yn ddiogel yma yng Nghymru. Yn ystod wythnos y Sulgwyn mae rhai ohonoch yn gwersylla yn yr ardd neu'n mwynhau aros yn y garafán ar y dreif. Efallai bod eraill yn hiraethu am wersylla neu garafanio yn Eisteddfod yr Urdd dros y blynyddoedd, neu anturiaethau i rai o'ch hoff fannau gwyliau ar hyd ein harfordir. Felly, i’n helpu ni i gyd gydag ychydig hiraeth am wyliau wrth i ni aros gartref, dyma Ian Smith, Curadur Amgueddfa Genedlaethol y Glannau gydag ychydig o’r hanes y tu ôl i’r llun hwn:

Tynnwyd y llun hwn tua 1951. Ynddo, gwelir y teulu Dodds a oedd yn byw yng Nghaerdydd. Comisiynodd Mr Dodds y garafán ym 1950 i'w hadeiladu a'i gosod gan Louis Blow & Co yn Nhreganna, Caerdydd. Costiodd y fan £ 600.00 - ffortiwn fach yn y dyddiau hynny.

Aeth y teulu ar daith ledled De Cymru ynddi er i'r fan gael ei gadael yn barhaol ar gae ffermwr ger Casnewydd yn Sir Benfro yn y pen draw. Yno, cafodd y teulu eu holl wyliau haf tan 2009.

Y teulu creodd y cynllun a oedd yn cynnwys pethau fel top cwpwrdd arbennig y byddai crud cario'r babi yn ffitio'n berffaith iddo; gwely dwbl plygu i lawr ar gyfer Mam a Thad a sgrin rhannu derw oedd yn llithro i’w le, a oedd i bob pwrpas yn ffurfio dwy ystafell wely. Roedd cegin fach gyda stôf nwy a sinc gyda thap pwmp troed i ddarparu dŵr golchi. Roedd yn rhaid casglu dŵr yfed mewn canistr alwminiwm mawr - gwaith da i'r plant os oedd angen eu blino allan cyn mynd i’w gwely! Roedd yr adlen yn dyblu maint y lle byw ac yn darparu ardal i gadw pethau'n sych.

Yn 2009 cynigiwyd y garafán i'r amgueddfa gan Michael Dodds, a oedd erbyn hynny yn ei 70au. Mike yw'r bachgen hŷn yng nghefn y grŵp yn y llun. Mae’r garafán yn cael ei harddangos yn Amgueddfa Hanes Cenedlaethol Sain Ffagan, yn Oriel ‘Byw a Bod’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diweddariad: Oherwydd y galwad poblogaidd rydym nawr yn agor ein cystadleuaeth #MinecraftEichAmguedda i blant chwech oed! Rhannwch a gadewch i'r plant chwech oed ledled y Genedl wybod!

Cystadleuaeth i blant 6-11 oed

Y her: Defnyddiwch eich dychymyg i adeiladu amgueddfa ddelfrydol yn Minecraft. Adeiladwch adeilad mawreddog a’i lenwi gyda’ch hoff 

wrthrychau. Gallwch chi ddewis unrhyw wrthrych o’n saith amgueddfa – deinosor, ceiniog Rufeinig neu dŷ o Sain Ffagan!

Gwobrau: Cyfle i ennill taith tu ôl i’r llenni i’r dosbarth cyfan yn eich hoff amgueddfa! (Pan fydd yr ysgolion yn ailagor)

Bydd gwobr i bob dosbarth blynyddoedd 2 i 6.

Dyddiad cau: 30 Mehefin 2020

The now quiet space of National Museum Cardiff’s contemporary art galleries has most recently played host to the Museum’s first full-scale series of photographic exhibitions. The artwork displayed comprised part of the museum’s first ‘Photography Season’, presenting work by four photographers: August Sander (1876–1964), Bernd (1931–2007) and Hilla Becher (1934–2015), and Martin Parr (b. 1952). While Parr’s exhibition sat opposite the contemporary art galleries in the Museum’s designated photography gallery, Bernd and Hilla Becher: Industrial Visions was shown on the upper level of the contemporary spaces. The Bechers’ work was thematically linked to that presented downstairs, ARTIST ROOMS: August Sander (October 2019-March 2020).

For myself and two other fabulous volunteers, March marked the end of a three-month exhibition evaluation placement as part of the ARTIST ROOMS programme within Sander’s portrait photography exhibition space. I would like to briefly expand upon the role that I undertook in this two-part blog and highlight the value of the process of collecting and collating exhibition evaluation feedback.

It is valuable to give a few details of the photographer August Sander (1876–1964). Sander was a German-born photographer and in 1911 began the first series of portraits for his seminal work People of the 20th Century. ARTIST ROOMS: August Sander presented over eighty photographs – produced as part of this project – which classify individuals according to profession and social class. The portraits are placed on long-term loan to ARTIST ROOMS, a UK-wide programme jointly delivered by the National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. The ARTISTS ROOMS programme’s aim is to show the work of each of the 40 artists it represents in dedicated solo exhibitions across the UK. Through ARTIST ROOMS important works of art can be widely seen by visitors and, importantly, it also gives young people the opportunity to get involved in creative projects, learn more about art and artists, and develop new skills.

My role, as one of the three exhibition evaluation placements, was to allow visitors to ARTIST ROOMS: August Sander a chance to fill in an online survey on one of two iPads lent to the museum by ARTIST ROOMS for its duration. The survey asked the visitor a multitude of questions about their experience of the exhibition. It also asked some statistical questions, which could be omitted or simply passed back to us to reset.

Additionally, we chatted to visitors in the exhibition space, including those who wanted to discuss the exhibition informally with us. As the weekends always tend to draw in a diverse and greater number of visitors, at least one of us tried to come on Saturdays for a few hours to do the surveys, as well as undertake at least one shift during the week, sometimes in a pair, occasionally all together and at other times singly.

The second part of the blog expands upon my reasons for wishing to undertake this placement and the importance of exhibition evaluation.