Amgueddfa Blog: Ymgysylltu â'r Gymuned

Nearing the four-month mark since I stepped into National Museum Wales for the first day of my Professional Training Year (PTY) placement from Cardiff University, my goal of achieving new experiences in the world of marine invertebrate research is definitely underway. This is now taking form in the way of the Magelonidae, the shovelhead worms, a family of polychaetes with many unanswered questions hovering around them in regards to their ecology, taxonomy and behaviour.

Through starting with live observations in the museum lab in July of Magelona alleni, a rather chunky species of magelonid, my project has developed into some exciting discoveries regarding not only the feeding of these amazing worms, but also how they poo, hence the title of the blog post! As boring as worm defecation sounds, this is not the case when you watch how these amazing animals decide to actually get rid of their dinner (there will be more about the details of this in my next blog post when we have finished working on this interesting behaviour).

These findings have led me down a road of using many new techniques to be able to present my work in a professional and scientific manner. This includes scientific drawing using a camera lucida attachment on a microscope, photography in the way of time-lapse captures, film and image stacking, image editing, reviewing relevant literature, statistical analysis, dissection and SEM (scanning electron microscopy) to name but a few.

In addition to these skills I have learnt much about day to day tasks the museum carries out, including learning methods of curation for an impressive collection of marine invertebrates, holding over 750,000 specimens and having the opportunity to partake in sampling trips to collect more animals for the further development of my project and other projects around the museum. I have also settled into the role of tank maintenance for not only the shovelhead worms, but also some of our resident anemones, hermit crabs, starfish, sea potatoes and prawns. I have even tried my hand at outreach on one of the museum’s stands during the evening event ‘After Dark at the Museum’ with Cardiff University, which saw nearly 2000 people (mainly families) enjoy a hands on experience.

One crucial advantage that I feel I have obtained over these last few months is that I am starting to enjoy a great appreciation for the diversity of life in our seas, from the very tiny, such as organisms like diatoms and foraminiferans to the impressively large, like the young humpback whale skeleton on display in the museum, which I get the pleasure of walking past most days. All in all, my experiences so far have been beyond valuable and who knows what the next few months of research here will bring.

Find out more about how I got on when I first started at the museum

Archibald H. Lee was the first Secretary appointed to National Museum Wales in 1909 and held the post for 44 years. His professional life began in 1899 when he entered the service of the Cardiff Corporation as a junior clerk in the old Town-hall on St Mary Street. During this time he would have worked on the City’s case for the establishment of a National Museum, so it must have been gratifying for him to join the fledgling staff of the new Museum.

After a few quietly productive years, the outbreak of WWI saw a large number of staff leave the museum for military service and Lee was no exception. He commanded a company of the 5th Welch Regiment and was awarded the Military Cross after the Battle of Gaza.

After the war, Lee resumed his position as Secretary and the Library holds a great number of photographs showing him at the forefront of important events and gatherings. In 1927 the new building at Cathays Park was officially opened by King George V and Queen Mary and Lee lead the Royal party up the steps to officially knock on the door with the ceremonial staff.

He established a life time bond with the Cardiff Naturalists’ Society when he joined in 1909, going on to hold the posts of Honourable Secretary, Council Member, President [1931-2] and finally Honourable Member in 1954. Some highlights during these years were helping to organize and celebrate the Society’s Diamond Jubilee, contributing an article titled Museums in Cardiff for the Society Transactions [1932] and being awarded the Honorary Degree of M.A. by the University of Wales [1937].

During WWII, he was an active member of the 16th Glamorgan Home Guard ‘National Museum Wales Section’. The Museum suffered some damage through enemy air raids on Cardiff and extensive precautions were implemented to protect the collections. These involved the transfer of important specimens to the basement strong room, sandbagging of sculptural and bulky exhibits, the protecting of all glass cases and windows with gummed strips, and night time ‘fire-watch’ duties, all of which  Lee would most likely have been involved in.

In 1953 Lee retired as Secretary with a civic luncheon held in his honour and the award of an O.B. E [Officer of the British Empire].

He passed away in 1970, aged 87 years.

 

Hi Everyone! Uri Guide Dog here, the new doggie bloggist taking over from my big bro Arnie, who’s now retired. I’ve been getting to know National Museum Cardiff very well as it’s one of my mum’s favourite places EVER!

We went to the Museum’s audio tour about Victorian art recently. The paintings and sculptures were beautifully described by the human guides. I was listening intently, even if it did look like I was having a little snooze next to mum. That’s just my listening face.

Anyway I had the chance to meet up with a few colleagues, Guide Dogs Ruby and Alfie, who were also keeping their two-leggeds safe. But we were surprised to find other dogs at the Museum!

I should have known something was up as soon as I arrived… Outside, after a doggie relief moment, I bumped into a colourful dog just sitting on the grass! A beauty, too! I couldn’t believe my luck! But she didn't respond to my waggy tail or my friendly bow. Rude, I thought, but I took a sneaky selfie anyway. Then, inside, I was even more surprised to find a whole pack of multi-coloured pups! I met Oakly, Abi, Smileosaur, Percy and Doris.

Mum explained these are ‘Snowdogs’, and that just like me these are helping dogs too. Except they are made of fiberglass, not fur. They have been made as part of an appeal to help Tŷ Hafan, the children’s hospice in Wales. These sculptural dogs have been decorated by local artists, schools and community groups, and you can follow the Snowdogs: Tails in Wales trail to find them all around Cardiff and the Vale!

As we sat next to the dogs a little girl came up to say hello. She gave me a cuddle and said she was from Marlborough Primary School and had actually helped decorate Percy the pup! Everyone in her class had put a fingerprint on a red background to create a flower pattern on their dog. She was very proud of their work. I told her Percy is PAW-SOME. He really is.

Apparently the Snowdog was chosen because it features in a film, based on a character created by Raymond Briggs. The Snowdog helps a boy deal with the loss of his pet dog by taking him on a magical adventure.

The pack of Snowdogs are going to be sold at auction after the public exhibition and trail finishes. The money raised will help support lots of children and their families, proving that Guide Dogs are not the only dogs who change lives. Good job guys! 

 

The Museum's next Audio Description Tour takes place on 7th December

We have been working hard over the last few years to make our museums more welcoming for visitors with visual impairments, but most of our efforts to date have been aimed at adults. That is until a few weeks ago, when we held our first ever fun day for families supporting a loved one with a visual impairment. The dinosaur-themed event, organised in association with the Children and Young People Services team at Guide Dogs Cymru, proved a roaring success.

We began the day with our popular Sounds of the Dinosaurs workshop. This gave everyone a chance to hold some real dinosaur fossils and get a basic introduction to the topic. Once the scene was set, everyone took part in our noisy dinosaur story, Albie the Adventurer. Using recorders, shakers and trumpets, the children had lots of fun recreating the sounds of the prehistoric forest.

Once we finished the story (and our ears stopped ringing), we paused for tea and cake before venturing out into the galleries. Heading straight to the Dinosaur Babies exhibition, we were joined by museum staff who gave a special sensory guided tour. As the exhibition is full of touchable dinosaur bones and eggs (both replica and real), it made for the perfect tour. Visitors even got to compare an Apatosaurus leg bone with a cow's, and listen to the scary roars of the animatronic dinosaur!   

After the tour, we visited the activity area at the back of the exhibition. There, the children made dinosaur artworks, completed a jigsaw and even dressed up as a T. rex! Finally, everyone got the chance to become a palaeontologist and explore the dig pit. One young visitor even proclaimed, "I wish we could all live in the museum so we could play every day!"

We're still learning about events like this, but thanks to everyone at Guide Dogs Cymru, the day ran very smoothly. We're hoping to do more family days in the future, so if anyone has any ideas, or would like to take part, please get in touch! If you’re unfamiliar with our work to make our museums more accessible, find more information on the blog. There are posts on staff training, work with our youth forum, and of course our friends Arnie and Uri, the blogging guide dogs.


The programme of learning activities for Dinosaur Babies is generously supported by Western Power Distribution.

 

Hi, it’s me Mike, volunteer curator with The Wallich working on a new exhibition called ‘Who Decides: Making Connections with Contemporary Art’. The old exhibition that was in the gallery has come down, it’s totally empty now.

 

So we are going to start this new exhibition; with new art, photos and films that you won’t have seen before. You can see some of my favourite pieces. I really hope you enjoy this new exhibition.

 ‘Who Decides: Making Connections with Contemporary Art’ opens on October 26th 2017. More information here and here