Amgueddfa Blog: Gwasanaethau Casgliadau

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’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACNMW has a dedicated and skilled team of Technicians supporting the care and exhibition of ACNMW’s world class art collections. Here one of the team, Paul Emmanuel, reflects on the links between a piece of his own art work and a work by Claude Monet, ‘Rouen Cathedral’. 

Working with the Art collection at the National Museum Cardiff offers incredible privileges, not least is the opportunity of handling works and seeing them close up and out of their frames. This brings new readings to the forms. Techniques and applications appear more visible bringing a visceral quality to the surfaces.  

I’m certain that influences from the collection filter into my own Art practice, directly or subliminally. Pink Backward Painting wasn’t made in response to Rouen Cathedral but my work at ACNMW offered a rare opportunity to compare in detail, the surfaces and forms of each work.  

The comparison of works comes from a particular time in the conservation studio. Having finished Pink Backward Painting at Nantyffin Chapel and unframed Rouen Cathedral at ACNMW, I felt a resonance between the two paintings which still holds strong today.  

You can explore further the work of the Museum’s Art Collections and Paul’s work further online. 

One of the best reasons for housing heritage collections inside buildings is that the building keeps the weather out. Paintings, fossils, books and skeletons are best kept dry, and walls and roofs protect our collections (as well as staff and visitors) from the elements.

In addition, many of the objects in our collections also need specific temperature and humidity ranges to prevent them from suffering damage. Too high a humidity can cause swelling of wood, for example, initiating cracks in objects, or, if humidity gets even higher, mould growth. Therefore, National Museum Cardiff has a complicated air conditioning system. This system is more than 40 years old and has been maintenance-intensive and inefficient for some time.

We are happy to report that, after several years of planning, we have just completed the installation of new chillers and humidifiers at National Museum Cardiff. The purpose of chillers in the museum is to provide cold water – for lowering the temperature of galleries and stores in the summer, and for dehumidifying stores and galleries if there is too much moisture in the air. Humidifiers achieve the opposite effect: they increase humidity in stores and galleries if it is too low. Low humidity is usually a problem during the winter months – you may have experienced your skin drying out at home when you have the heating on in winter. To prevent our collections drying out we cannot apply skin cream; instead, we maintain a minimum level of humidity in stores and galleries.

The chillers and humidifiers have been commissioned now, and are working well. They have already proved that the control of our indoor environments is better than it was before. A very positive side effect of the new technologies is that they are much more efficient than the old equipment. In fact, they are so efficient that we are anticipating to shave almost 50% off our annual electricity bill for National Museum Cardiff, saving the planet more than 500 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. That is the equivalent of taking 100 cars off the road, or the average energy a family home uses in 38 years.

By investing in such new technologies, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales continues to ensure the safe storage and display of the nation’s heritage collections, whilst at the same time making a massive contribution towards the National Assembly’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 (Environment Wales Act 2016).

Find out more about Care of Collections at Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales here and follow us on Twitter. Follow the progress of the maintenance works during the coming months in 2019 on Twitter using the hashtag #museumcare.

 

 

Written by Caitlin Jenkins, MSc Conservation Practice student, Cardiff University

I’m Caitlin, an MSc Conservation Practice student from Cardiff University and I have just finished my summer placement at National Museum Cardiff. I’ve been working with conservator Julian Carter on the natural history collections, with the last five weeks focused on preparations for the museum’s summer exhibition, Snakes!

The first week saw me elbow deep in jars full of snakes, as we worked our way through getting 32 fluid preserved specimens ready for display. Although the snakes had already undergone previous treatment, many were very old and in need of attention. After checking the jars’ condition, we added or replaced conservation fluid as required.

Many snakes needed to be rehomed in new jars. Some preservationists use wires or mountings, but we chose to follow the natural shape of the snake and its flexibility to guide its positioning within the jar. My favourite of the specimens was a grass snake that had been preserved in the act of eating a toad (with one leg dangling from its mouth...poor toad!)

I was also able to assist with preserving a new addition to this collection – a boa constrictor named Aeron. After formaldehyde injections and several fluid changes, we needed to find an extra-large shiny new jar, because he was over a metre long. Aeron has now bagged a starring role as the centrepiece of his display case. I really enjoyed this experience, and it has given me a fantastic insight into the complexities and potential of fluid preservation.

My other major project was the treatment of three snake models destined to be part of a large interactive exhibit within Snakes! Two were painted plaster models of a rattle snake and a king cobra. These incredibly detailed antiques were perhaps cast from real specimens. The third was a moulded rubber and polystyrene grass snake model from the 1960s. The models had survived in remarkably good condition given their age, they just needed a little ‘zhoosh’ to make them display-ready. Light brushing and swabbing with water and mild detergent was all that was needed to remove ingrained dust. Any loose or flaking areas were consolidated to ensure that they didn’t become further detached from the model.

Nevertheless, small elements were missing from each model. The grass snake model posed a specific conservation risk, as rubber and plastics can become unstable over time. Its tongue became fragmented during cleaning and unfortunately proved too badly degraded to reattach. Using photographs of the real-life snake species as a guide, I fashioned replacement tongues for this and the king cobra model from a strong plant-based fibre known as Japanese tissue. They were secured in place and painted to blend them into the jaw area. Being able to see the immediate improvement after each snake ‘facelift’ was very satisfying - this took cosmetic surgery to a whole new level!

Finally, the finished models were settled into their new home for the summer – a large interactive exhibit affectionately dubbed ‘the snake pit’. I’d become so immersed in their treatment over the last five weeks that I was kind of sad to see them go – but it was satisfying to see them looking their best and used in the spirit for which they were originally created.

I’ve really enjoyed working on Snakes! from preparation to completed display – it’s been a fantastic experience. If you are in the vicinity of the museum, pleasssse pay them a visit.

The exhibition runs till 15th September 2019, entry charges do apply, and all your contributions go towards bringing you even bigger and better exhibitions in the future. Please note that there is no live handling of the snakes within the exhibition, there will be a series of bookable handling sessions throughout the summer as well as a Venom themed Open Day in August. To find out more about all of this, go to our What's On page.

Recently, we’ve been privileged to accept a fabulous new accession into our collection.  It is a set of three silk garments which belonged to Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn, 4th Baronet, who lived between 1749 and 1789.  He owned vast areas of land in Wales, was active in politics and was a great patron of the arts.  You can find out more about him here:

Image of painting of Watkin Williams-Wynn from our 'Collections Online'
Small pastel portrait from the museum's collections

As part of Sir Watkin’s lavish lifestyle came an opulent wardrobe.  The garments we have acquired are a matching set of waistcoat and breeches made from grey silk, woven with silver metal thread, silk embroidery and metal thread trim,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

as well as an embroidered waistcoat of flamboyantly pink satin. 

 All three items have passed through the Textile Conservation Studio over the last few weeks to record the garments’ construction, materials, and condition, before packing them up to go into storage.  The grey set of waistcoat and breeches were in remarkably good condition, but I was worried about the embroidery on the pink waistcoat.  The embroidery consists of undulating bands of white net which covers small florets made of paper.  The bands run down both sides of the centre front and across the lower edge as well as across the pocket flaps.  Other embroidery features are foliage and blossoms made from chenille thread and mauve ribbon-worked rosette flower heads. 


The white net is made from silk which has been coated with a stiffening agent.  This stiffening agent has made the net brittle and the yarns have cracked in many places resulting in areas of loss and loose areas.  Those loose remains of the net were vulnerable to snagging and abrasion and I was afraid that further pieces would break off and become lost.  Equally, the paper flowers that lay underneath and were formerly protected by the net were now exposed and also at risk of damage or loss through accidentally brushing against them.  As it was, a number of petals had pulled away from the stitches that held them in place and had curled up and become creased and distorted, with several petals and some entire flowers becoming lost. 


To protect the fragile areas I decided to apply an overlay of very fine white Nylon net.  This net does not disturb the aesthetics of the embroidery while at the same time providing protection to the vulnerable net and paper underneath.  Before I could start, however, I had to humidify the paper petals to re-shape them and arrange them in their correct position. For this, I dampened the paper with deionised water applied with a fine paint brush.  Once it was wet, the paper was pliable and creases could be removed.  To apply the net overlay I stitched it in place with small running stitches using a thin white silk organzine thread.  I used a curved needle as the garment had to remain flat on the table (to avoid unnecessary movement).  It’s only now that it has been conserved that the waistcoat is strong enough to go into storage.

There was something else that was interesting about the waistcoat: The rear panel is made from tabby woven cotton fabric and the lower section is made of cream silk.  As it is now, the seam allowances are facing outwards and raw edges are visible.  It is not unusual that areas of the garment that aren’t on view are made from less expensive materials and that the stitching might not be as carefully executed as on the visible areas, however, the current configuration and some indication of previous stitch holes suggests that the waistcoat would have had an outer back panel and what is visible currently, is simply the back section of the lining.  There is therefore a strong indication that the waistcoat may have been altered and the original back getting lost in the process.