Amgueddfa Blog

On 29th July, we are going to take part in an international event to support tiger conservation across the world.

You may be shocked to realize that we have lost 97% of all wild tigers. Worldwide, tigers are on the brink of extinction with many species listed as Endangered or Critically Endangered. The goal of the day is to raise public awareness of tiger conservation issues, and to work to find a way to halt their rapid decline. This is an annual event that we will be taking part in for the first time.  The day was first celebrated in 2010 following the Tiger Summit held in St. Petersburg.

Many international organisations will be involved in events across the globe, working towards increasing the numbers of tigers in the wild. So what will be happening at the museum on international tiger day?

The star of the show will be Bryn, a most handsome Sumatran Tiger. Bryn came to the museum in 2016 after spending his life at the Welsh Mountain Zoo in Colwyn Bay. You can find out more about him by reading my last blog. Bryn will only be on display for this one day, so do not miss this opportunity to come and see him up close.

Helping us learn more about Bryn will be the ever-wonderful Dr Rhys Jones. Lecturer, reptile specialist, jungle man and wildlife welfare warrior, Rhys has worked with many charities in conserving and rescuing endangered and exotic animals.

We are especially pleased to announce that the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) will be joining us, one of the key charities involved in conservation efforts across the globe. WWF work closely with governments around the world to provide support for surveying and protecting tigers and have launched Tx2. An ambitious conservation project aiming to double the number of tigers in the wild by 2022 – the next Chinese year of the tiger.

I am also incredibly excited to announce that the fabulous Nicola Davies (@nicolakidsbooks) will be with us running big cat activities throughout the day. Nicola is a wonderful children’s author with an infectious enthusiasm for animals and the natural world. Join her for storytelling sessions and rhyming activities (bookable on the day).

There will also be drop-in activities throughout the day so there is plenty to keep you and your family busy. We can't wait to see you. You can find out more on our Facebook event page, or What’s On.

You can follow global tiger events on social media using a range of hashtags: #doubletigers, #iprotectTigers, #TigersForever, #3890tigers.

If you want to find out more about what is being done to protect tigers, here are some useful webpages: Project Tiger, Tigers ForeverSave the Tiger fund, WildTeam & Save Tigers Now.  

There are numerous hash tags celebrating the natural world on Twitter. However, #FossilFriday remains one of our favourites. Each week we showcase the wonderful paleontological collections that are housed at National Museum Cardiff as well as the research that goes on every day behind the scenes.

We not read some of our latest #FossilFriday Tweets and discover more about the fascinating world of fossils

Annelids or segmented worms as they are often called are a group containing earthworms, leeches and marine bristleworms. Each week at the museum we celebrate this fascinating group under the hashtag #WormWednesday with many others on social media.

This is an opportunity to highlight the importance and often spectacular beauty of these animals. We tweet specimens from our collections at National Museum Cardiff, as well as the research that goes on behind the scenes.

So why not delve into the fascinating world of segmented worms with this Storify of Awesome Annelids!

The collection at St Fagans National Museum of History includes numerous archives relating to the Welsh experience of the First World War. While working with colleagues to produce a digital database to commemorate the centenary of the conflict, I found an intriguing bundle of documents associated with a young soldier with connections to Penarth who died, serving with the Grenadier Guards, exactly 100 years ago today. His name was Oscar Foote and in this blog I have pieced together his last 24 hours from the archives we hold at the Museum.

On the night of 6 July 1917 an exhausted Oscar Foote had just returned from fighting in the trenches of Ypres for some well-earned rest and recuperation in a nearby camp. This camp was well within range of German artillery and on occasions they would shell the area. The morning of 7 July had begun like any other morning for Oscar. He had just put away his shaving kit when shells suddenly started bursting in the vicinity. A shell landed close to Oscar’s hut, creating murderous splinters in its aftermath. One of these splinters caught Oscar in the head and neck. Although his comrades desperately went to his aid, their efforts were in vain. He had been killed instantly. That afternoon, Oscar was buried by his comrades in Canada Farm British Cemetery, near Elverdinghe. A card dated 3 January 1918 includes a photograph of a simple wooden cross marking his resting place. 

The Oscar Foote archives came into the national collection in 1946 – a donation from a Mrs Maillard of Penarth who had been corresponding with him during the War. It appears that Mrs Maillard also donated material to the Imperial War Museum (IWM), possibly in response to the Bond of Sacrifice initiative. More research is needed to unpick how letters addressed to Mrs Maillard from the IWM came into our possession in 1946, but both institutions were actively collecting war memorabilia from soldiers and their families during and immediately after the conflict. Another blog for another day.

The digitisation of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales’ First World War collection is supported by the Armed Forces Community Covenant Grant Scheme.

In part one I gave some background to the exchange programme with Jamtli museum and my experience of the galleries. In this blog I will focus on the shadowing opportunities we had.

Learning Department

Much of the week, Heulwen and myself shadowed members of the Jamtli learning department. The sessions we shadowed included a visit by a preschool class (6 year olds), a primary school prehistory session, adults learning Swedish and parents with preschool aged children (aged 0-5).

The highlight was the session for the preschool class as it had similarities with 2 of our sessions at St Fagans. The session was run by Pia who was playing a 19th century character. The children helped Pia prepare her house for a visitor by cleaning and doing some shopping. It was a very interactive session and kept the children engaged the whole time. It has given us some good ideas to make our school sessions more hands on. The buildings used for the preschool were perfectly set up for young children, with play areas designed to be child sized.

We also had the opportunity to visit the 1950s house and had a discussion about reminiscence sessions. It was very useful to find out how the sessions are delivered. Of particular interest was discovering that when groups from care homes visit the museum finds out where the participants are from. They then cater the information and images to the group by providing images from their home towns. The participants sometimes even recognise the people in the photos!

Carpentry

On the Wednesday, Heulwen, Pascal and myself had a tour of the timber buildings led by Jamtli’s head carpenter, Matts. The highlight of this tour was the timber church with painted walls on the inside. This was vividly painted and reminded me of our own St Teilos church here at St Fagans.

Afterwards we visited the wood workshop where we learnt how to make thin shingles and thick shingles (known as church shingles). I had a go at making both types but found the thin shingles much easier to make and was able to make several during my time. The thin shin shingles didn't require too much skill, whereas church shingles required skilled use of an axe. In my unskilled hands I found the axe work very tiring and I only made one church shingle.

Up next…

In the final instalment of my Jamtli visit blog I will discuss the highlights of visiting the historic buildings.