Amgueddfa Blog: Fforwm Ieuenctid

Guest Blog: Mass Production and the Museum Displays of the Future

Guest Blog by Gracie Price, National Museum Cardiff Youth Forum, 3 Chwefror 2016

In Britain it is estimated that we use 13 billion plastic bottles each year, whilst this has a serious environmental implication, this mass production also has implications for the museums of the future.

Take for example, St Fagans National History Museum, in 100 years’ time what will be on display in the house of 2016?

In our modern society we have come to accept mass produced items as an essential part of our lives. Whilst producing items in this way is cost effective and practical, its introduction has meant that some of these items which historically would have been aesthetically pleasing have lost their aesthetic appeal.

In my room I have chosen to display a collection of bottles manufactured years before I was even born. I am drawn to the beauty and manufacture of these objects, their vibrant colours and slight imperfections. In the past a bottle with a primary function to hold a certain liquid, manufactured of glass could last for years and have a wide array of applications within its lifetime.

Now however, when we buy a bottle of water or fizzy drink, it generally comes in a mass produced bottle made of plastic. Whilst these are very portable they are not generally viewed as being very aesthetically pleasing.

Whilst I may choose to display an old glass bottle, a plastic bottle produced in 2016 would not make it onto my shelf.

Returning to the question of the St Fagans of the future, will they choose to display a plastic water bottle on the kitchen table, the new model of smartphone by the bed or even an E-reader on the bookshelf? Mass production has removed the individuality and beauty from some objects which in the past were manufactured with care.

In the future our culture will be conveyed through the artefacts which we choose to treasure, for some that may be a collection of antiques curated throughout the years but for others it may consist of a collection of modern objects.

The museums of the future will have a very tough time conveying our diverse culture through the use of a select few objects.

The future is uncertain but the choices over what we individually choose to curate will shape the perceptions of our culture in the museum displays of the future.

 

Gracie Price,

Cardiff Museum Youth Forum

 

Sources:

Recycle-more. (2016). Top facts on recycling and the environment. Available: http://www.recycle-more.co.uk/pwpcontrol.php?pwpID=12809. Last accessed: 28th Jan 2016

WW1 flag day badges - a blog by volunteer Lydia Griffiths

Elen Phillips, 2 Mehefin 2015

To celebrate Volunteers' Week, Lydia Griffiths, a volunteer and Youth Forum member at Amgueddfa Cymru, talks about her research into British charity and voluntary action during the First World War through studying a collection of Flag Day badges at St Fagans National History Museum.

Voluntary action made a significant contribution to the First World War, not only in the numbers of soldiers who volunteered to fight but also the civilians on the Home Front who donated food and clothing in addition to providing medical and financial support. As part of my Art History Degree at the University of Bristol, I embarked on a dissertation to research a collection of Flag Day badges at St Fagans National History Museum and discovered a fascinating legacy of British voluntary action that can be traced to the present day.

Flag Day badges consist of paper and sometimes silk flags attached to metal pins that were simple to produce and sold for as little as a penny. They tended to be sold on specific days and in addition to being easily adapted to suit any cause, they were quickly and efficiently produced offering the contributor the opportunity to display their commitments to the war effort by simply purchasing and wearing a Flag Day badge. Many thousands of volunteers contributed to the war effort by selling and producing these badges which generated an impressive amount of money. It has been estimated that during the First World War, the Red Cross alone raised £22 million - the equivalent to £1.75 billion today - which included the selling of Flag Day badges.

The collection of Flag Day badges at St Fagans could be regarded as social signifiers indicative of a nation committed to supporting and helping those in need, a trend that continues today. There are hundreds of flags in the collection and all have their own specific purpose and underlying story, such as those that reference St Dunstan’s Day, a charity based in London which was set-up to help the blinded soldiers which is still functioning today under the title Blind Veteran UK. There are also many Red Cross related Flag Day badges and some bear the words ‘Our Days’ that reference a day dedicated specifically to fundraising for the Red Cross which has been described as the equivalent to our modern day Comic Relief and Children in Need.

Personally, I found the Russian Flag Day badges featuring the symbol of the Red Cross the most inspiring as they were established by a London based Russian Petroleum Scientist, Dr Paul Dvorkovitz, who wanted to improve the allied relationship between Russia and Great Britain. The archives in the Imperial War Museum currently have all his telegrams and diaries and they reveal that he proposed the idea that British towns across the country could hold ‘Russian Days,’ where Russian themed Flag Day badges would be sold to generate funds for the Russian war effort and in return certain Russian cities would hold similar English or British Flag Days to raise funds for Britain. In Wales, Welsh newspapers from the period report that many Russian Flag Days were held in Swansea and Cardiff which is why they appear in the collection at St Fagans. Nationally the movement raised £50,000 in 1916 that prompted the Tsarina to send a telegram to The Times newspaper thanking the British for their generosity.

Since the Great War, voluntary action and charities have emerged as hugely significant assets to British society and their importance has certainly not wavered. Without the work of volunteers many institutions across the country would struggle to survive and it is interesting to note that many of today’s volunteers could be viewed simply as following in the footsteps of our ancestors from the First World War who took it upon themselves to volunteer to fight, fundraise and work to ensure a better future for their country.     

Happy Volunteers Week!

LYDIA GRIFFITHS @lydiabranweng

References:

Adrian Gregory, The Last Great War: British Society and the First World War (Cambridge, 2008)

Carol Harris, '1914-1918: How charities helped to win WW1' Third Sector

Imperial War Museum Archives

Peter Grant, Philanthropy and Voluntary Action in the First World War (New York, 2014)

The Times Newspaper Archives

Smashed: An Alternative Guide to Fragile

Sian Lile-Pastore, 21 Mai 2015

The youth forum worked extremely hard to get their first publication out in time for the Fragile? exhibition and it looks so wonderful! It contains interviews with artists, responses to the work on show and even an article about Spillers and Vinyl. We were also really lucky to have a great designer on board to work with the forum to create something so gorgeous - so thanks Chipper Designs!

You can pick up your copy of the youth forums magazine (or have a look at the pdf over on the right) at the exhibition and we would love to know what you think about it. Also we would love to know what your favourite fragile thing is, a baby? a cup? a building? let us know on twitter or instagram using #fragilefaves

The National Waterfront Museum Youth Forum join the fun on Roald Dahl Day

Loveday Williams, 1 Hydref 2014

The 13th September 2014 was not your average day at the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea. There was childlike music playing, story-time in front of the caravan exhibition and a strange fellow walking around who seemed to have lost his famous Chocolate Factory. The Youth Forum was also there, collecting stories and memories of caravanning holidays from visitors to the Museum to feature alongside the main exhibit of the family caravan.

Roald Dahl day certainly attracted a lot of families to the Museum, and many of them were more than happy to share their own personal stories of caravanning. We even managed to film a few people, including one person who could only remember the bad weather – this is Wales after all! The weather was a constant theme in the recollections, but happily many people enjoyed caravanning and camping despite the rain. My favourite memory would have to be the person who towed a 2-berth caravan with their Harley-Davidson motorbike, although I wouldn’t want to be stuck behind them in traffic! People young and old were sharing their memories and stories of caravanning with their family and friends, showing that caravan holidays are still a popular choice for many people in the age of package holidays.

All in all it was a nice day for the children and families, and we were able to collect lots of memories to travel alongside the caravan when it moves to St Fagans National History Museum as a key display in one of the new galleries.

Daisy Binks Youth Forum Member