Amgueddfa Blog

The Museums Association Conference of 1948 was held at National Museum Cardiff over five days, running from July 12th to the 16th. All conference meetings were held in the Reardon Smith Lecture Theatre, while an area within the Zoology Department was used as Association Office, Writing Room and Smoke Room.

We know the majority of host duties would have been carried out by Frederick J. North, who was Keeper of Geology and Archibald H. Lee, Museum Secretary, because they are listed on the programme as Honorary Local Secretaries. It is most likely we have them to thank for the ephemera held in the Library, including copies of the programme, associate and staff badges, reception invites, day trip tickets and the official group photograph, taken on the steps of the Museum.

The first day of the conference began with registration, followed by a Council meeting and visit to Cardiff Castle and a reception at the South Wales Institute of Engineers in the evening. The programme states this event as requiring Morning dress code which, during this time period would be a three piece suit for the men, and smart day dresses for the women, or general smart clothing suitable for formal social events.

The second day began with official welcomes by the Lord Mayor of Cardiff, Alderman R. G. Robinson, and the President of the National Museum Wales, Sir Leonard Twiston-Davies. This was followed by a number of papers read by delegates [all fully listed in the programme], gathering for the official conference photograph, and a Civic Reception at City Hall, hosted by the Lord Mayor [with refreshments, music and dancing].

1948 was the year that St Fagans National Museum of History was first opened to the public as the St Fagans Folk Museum and to mark this, a visit was arranged for the afternoon of day three. St Fagans Castle, gardens, and grounds had been given to the National Museum Wales by the Earl of Plymouth in 1946 and over the next two years extensive work had been carried out to make it suitable to open to the public. According to the 1950 St Fagans guide book, in the Castle, new central heating, electric lighting, and fire appliances had to be installed along with a tickets office, refreshment room and public amenities. By 1948 our delegates would have had access to the Castle and its newly refurbished historic interiors such as the kitchen with two 16th century fireplaces, the Hall furnished in 17th century style, 17th and 18th century bedrooms and the early 19th century Library. They would also have enjoyed walking the gardens which included a mulberry grove, herb and rose gardens, vinery, fishponds, and flower-house interspersed with bronze sculptures by Sir William Goscombe John. Onsite also were a traditional wood-turner and a basket-maker, creating and selling their wares. The handbook also describes a delightful sounding small tea room with curtains made at the Holywell Textile Mills and watercolour paintings by Sir Frank Brangwyn. However, according to a Western Mail clipping, this didn’t open to the public until some weeks later on August 24th. Presumably a room within the Castle itself was used for the delegates’ buffet tea to which they were treated after being greeted by the Curator of St Fagans, Dr Iorwerth Peate.

Interestingly the programme provides times of the train service that ran from Cardiff Central Station to St Fagans. Sadly, the station at St Fagans is no longer there, the service being withdrawn in 1962, although a signal box and level crossing on the line remain.

The Annual General Meeting, Council Meeting and Federation of Officers Meeting  were all held on the next day along with more papers, including one by Mr Duncan Guthrie [of the Arts Council], on the upcoming “Festival of Britain, 1951”. There was also an evening reception in the Museum hosted by the President, and the then Director [Sir Cyril Fox], with refreshments and music by the City of Cardiff High School for Girls Orchestra. The programme states evening dress if possible for this event so it’s a shame we don’t hold any photographs of what would have been a sea of tuxedos and evening gowns.

The final day consisted of further papers in the morning followed by escape and fresh air with visits to the Newport Corporation Museum and the Legionary Museum and Roman Amphitheatre at Caerleon during the afternoon.

The September 1948 issue of Museums Journal contains a full report on the conference, with detailed examination of all papers presented and the discussions they generated. It also lists the delegates including those from overseas. The report concludes with thanks to the National Museum Cardiff for the welcome and hospitality accorded to the 240 delegates, with special mention to North and Lee [who would certainly have earned their salaries over those five days!].

Anna Edwards, yn siarad am y ddarganfyddiad o’r Gelc Bronington ar eu fferm hi yn 2014:

Roedden ni wedi perchen ar y tir am dair mlynedd pan ddarganfyddon ni'r casgliad, er ein bod ni wedi rhentu o am flynyddoedd cyn hynny. Doedd neb wedi bod yno efo canfodyddion metel o'r blaen.

Dw'i bob amser yn gwerthfawrogi hanes a dwi'n cofio gorlethu'n gyffrous.  Mae wybodaeth leol wedi dysgi i ni bod llawer o weithgareddau wedi bod yn yr ardal yn y gorffennol fel yn ystod y Rhyfel Cartref a'r diwydiant halen.  Mae ffermio o dydd i ddydd wedi agor i fyny crochenwaith man, botwmau ond mae arwyddocad a phwysigrwydd y casgliad yn syfrdanol a mwy nag unrhywbeth gallwn i fod wedi dychmygu.

Fel y mwyafrif o bethau pwysig sy'n digwydd yn ein bywyd; mae digwyddiad pegynol fel hwn yn troi i fyny ar siawns.

Collodd fy ngwr ei oriadau yn ystod y cynhaeaf a gofynnodd i'r defnyddwyr canfodyddion metel lleol i helpu. Cafodd fy ngwr ei oriadau nôl a rhoddodd o wahoddiad i'r dynion i ddod yn ôl yn eu hamser hamdden.

Roedd gweld a theimlo'r casgliad yn ryfeddol ac yn gyffrous i fod y person cyntaf i wisgo'r modrwy ers 500 mlynedd. Roedd y cyflwr yn gysefin ac yn edrych yn newydd sbon. Roedd rhaid i ni eistedd i lawr i werthfawrogi'r sefyllfa. I bwy roedd hi’n perthyn? Pwy wisgodd o? Sut bobl oedden nhw? Oedd y trysor wedi ei guddio neu ddwyn?

Mae darganfod y casgliad wedi cryfhau ein cysylltiad efo'r tir ble rydyn ni wedi gweithio mor galed. Mae'n fraint i gyrraedd mor bell ac yn anrhydedd mawr i fod yn gysylltiedig efo'r arian a'r modrwy. Tystiolaeth o'r gorfennol, pressenol a'r dyfodol i ni.

Yn ogystal â hyn mae'n syndod i mi am y diddordeb sydd wedi ei gynyddu yn lleol ac ymhellach. Ymddangosodd yn y papur newydd, derbynion alwadau ffôn o radio Chicago a siaradon yn fyw i holl dalaith Illinois, mwy i ddilyn!

Mae'n bleser gweld y plant ysgol yn cael eu cynnwys yn y cyffro ac aelodau'r gymuned trwy’r prosiect - "Buried in the Borderlands"

 

A strange & unusual group is stored in the museum collections. Not animals, not plants, they are difficult to define. They are often grouped with fungi in museum collections and studied by mycologists because of their superficial resemblance to some fungi, but they not part of the Kingdom Fungi. Taxonomists have classified as them Protists, distantly related to microscopic single-celled Amoebas.

Some slime moulds are able to do something amazing, they can group together to form colonies. In a similar way to jellyfish, this type of slime mould is formed of hundreds of tiny individual cells, working together to survive. Each cell can move independently but also communicates with the others via chemical signals to find food or to reproduce. Some colonies of slime moulds creep along, changing shape as they go, and to feed they engulf microscopic bacteria, fungi and other organic matter.

Slime moulds often live in damp, dark places for example within soil and decaying wood, only becoming obvious to us when they form spore-producing structures (often as a result in a drop in nutrients available to the colony). The beautifully named Dog Sick Slime Mould (Mucilago crustacea) and Dog Vomit Slime Mould (Fuligo septica) appear on lawns, while the round pink spore structures of Wolf’s Milk (Lycogala terrestre) appear on decaying wood. The Many-headed Slime Mould (Physarum polycephalum) has even been shown to solve a maze for food.

Like other botanical specimens, most Slime Moulds preserve well by drying. Their fragile spore structures are kept safe in conservation-grade boxes within the collections. As you might expect for such an unusual group, their classification fluctuates. Studies using new techniques such as DNA sequencing help scientists to understand how each species is related to another, or even whether one species should be split into two. This leads to changes in scientific names, and may require their order within the Museum collections to be changed.

There is an online list of the 157 slime mould species that are held at the Museum. Most specimens have been collected from Britain, with some from other parts of Europe and from North America.

Mae Amgueddfa Cymru wedi lansio e-lyfr newydd fydd yn helpu dysgwyr i gysylltu eu profiadau ‘go-iawn’ o’r Amgueddfa gyda chasgliadau digidol yr Amgueddfa i wella’u sgiliau digidol.

Mae’r e-lyfr yn gwahodd dysgwr i archwilio addysg plant yng nghyfnod y Rhufeiniaid, pam mai dim ond y rhai cyfoethog gâi addysg, a pham y câi merched a bechgyn eu trin yn wahanol – materion sy’n parhau’n berthnasol hyd heddiw. Mae’n cynnwys ffilm wedi’i chreu gan ddysgwr Ysgol Gynradd Lodgehill, sy’n enghraifft wych o sut y gall dysgwr ddefnyddio ymweliad â’r Amgueddfa i ysbrydoli creadigrwydd a gwella sgiliau digidol.

Cafodd y llyfr ei ddatblygu gan dîm addysg yr Amgueddfa fel rhan o gyfres sy’n cysylltu ein sesiynau poblogaidd gyda’r cymwyseddau digidol sy’n angenrheidiol ar gyfer y cwricwlwm yng Nghymru.

Mae’n addas ar gyfer dysgwr CA2 ac yn defnyddio gwrthrychau Rhufeinig i archwilio rhifedd a llythrennedd – ond yn arddull dosbarth Rhufeinig! Gallwch ei ddefnyddio fel adnodd unigol neu i gyd-fynd â sesiwn ‘Grammaticus – Dosbarth Rhufeinig’ yn Amgueddfa Lleng Rufeinig Cymru.

Gall dysgwr ei ddefnyddio i ganfod gwybodaeth gywir a darganfod casgliadau digidol yr Amgueddfa ar gyfer projectau digidol creadigol.

Dewch i gwrdd â ni ac Ysgol Gynradd Lodgehill yn y Digwyddiad Dysgu Digidol Cenedlaethol i ddysgu mwy am y project. Archebwch eich lle nawr!

Cymerwch olwg a lawrlwythwch yr e-lyfr drwy'r linc isod.

Adnodd: Ysgol Rufeinig

Last Saturday (2nd June) I took part in Soapbox Science, an event promoting the role of women in science by getting them to stand on a soapbox in the middle of a city centre and explain to and, hopefully, enthuse, people about what they do. The Cardiff event (one of several held on the same day around the UK) was based outside Cardiff Central Library, by the St David’s Centre.

 

I thought that it would be the scariest event I had ever done, but in the end, it turned out to be more exciting that I expected and I was barely nervous at all. In fact, standing in a lecture hall in front of several hundred people staring at you while you present is definitely worse!

 

My talk was based around taxonomy, the science of describing, naming and classifying species, but particularly the aspect of it relating to how we create and give names to species, something we often get asked questions about during events. To this end I had created ‘Brian’, a new species of polychaete (marine bristleworms) the like of which I was pretty confident had not been seen before (at this time!). Brian, of course, was his common name, a name that might change according to who and where you were in the world. He needed a scientific name, a name that would remain consistent regardless of language or location and that allows scientists to be sure that they are talking about the same species.

 

Scientific names have 2 parts, a group (genus) name that often includes several species that appear similar in general shape and form, and a specific name, the unique name that only belongs to a single species and that separates it from all others. Names are chosen or made from one, or several, Latin or Greek words and when translated, often provide some information on important characters, general appearance or where the organism may first have been discovered. Specific names would not normally be determined without referring to the other members of the group, but for this activity, this once, we were looking at the animal in isolation.

 

Brian’s group name was Atravermis: from the Latin ‘ater’ meaning black and ‘vermis’ meaning worm. With help from my audience, we then highlighted features on Brian that stood out and we used these to create possible specific names for him. Some of those we came up with were:

rubropodus: from ‘ruber’ meaning red and ‘–podus’ meaning footed = red-footed referring to his red legs;

flavipapillatus: from ‘flavi-‘ meaning yellow and ‘papillatus’ meaning to have papillae (small round balls attached to the skin) = yellow papillated, referring to the yellow papillae found on the body.

 

There are many rules relating to how and what names you can use for organisms. Taxonomists do not name species after themselves but they can name one after someone else. Thus, another possible name proposed was:

 

johnstonei: after one of my fellow speakers, Ashleigh Johnstone, as well as several more relating to my audience.

 

Lastly, names can refer to where the animal was found so one of the last suggestions was:

morhafrenensis: from the Welsh name for the Severn Estuary, Môr Hafren.

 

If the final choice, this would have given Brian the name, Atravermis morhafrenensis, meaning ‘black worm of the Severn Estuary’!

 

So why is taxonomy important?

All species have a unique function and role in the environment and if one is affected then it is more than likely that others will be affected too, as the loss of one will always leave some form of ‘hole’. Discovering and naming species helps us recognise each as distinct from all others and then we can recognize if one (or more) is being affected by something and what that is so that we can act on it. Knowledge of species enables us to make decisions based on a more complete view of the world and scientific names mean that we can be sure we are all talking about the same species.

 

Hopefully my stint on the soapbox might have relayed some of this to my audience and left them with knowing a little bit more about scientific names and where they come from but also why they (and taxonomy as a whole) are important.