Purchases by friends
Carmarthen Town Museum & Art Gallery
2005's Antiquarian Exhibition was a pleasure as it was a chance to work with amazing objects rarely on display now. Putting together our new gallery in Carmarthen Library brings back similar feelings. You realise once more how remarkably fortunate we are to have such fantastic items in the collection; again thanks to the Antiquarian Society and other generous donors. Pop down to the exhibition room in the library to find our new Carmarthen room. Some things will be familiar from past visits to the old Heritage Centre, but there is a lot of new material, and objects not seen for a while, too. The shop and pub signs are wonderful and you can't fail to miss the Columbia Press, once so much a feature of the main hall in Abergwili. My personal favourites have to be the old brass imperial weights and measures. Could be a question there for next February, Quizmaster Lloyd!
showing the maritime influences which have shaped Carmarthen.
Rebecca Evans enjoying the new Clore Exploration Room for children.
Rebecca is the daughter of our curator, Gavin..
Spring Bank Holiday reopening for the Museum
The museum will be open to the public again on 29th May. The last few months have seen major improvements - we now have a lift which connects the ground and first floor galleries - and we have begun further exciting changes, some of which you can see immediately the museum reopens. In all we will gain a new temporary exhibition gallery upstairs, an exploration room for children on the ground floor and some new exhibition spaces and displays, too.
A grant from CyMAL:Museums, Archives and Libraries Wales has made possible the new temporary exhibition gallery. It will be to a high standard to allow the County Museum to borrow items from the National Museum and Galleries of Wales. The Clore Foundation grant will create a better exploration room for children, with hands-on activities, and it will also double as a formal teaching space for school groups. The County Council, the Arbour Stephens Bequest and the Council of Museums in Wales have funded the rest of the changes
The new lift is situated in what we believe was once
the palace's cloister walk. This meant that a small archaeological
investigation was required. This was a rare opportunity, as ironically,
because the palace has been lived in since the late 13th century, no
actual excavation of this historic site has ever been carried out. No
medieval floor levels were discovered, although one short length of wall
foundation may be medieval. In recompense, we did discover a horse
pendant that would have been fitted to harness and probably of 13th
century date. The pendant is lozenge shaped, made of copper alloy, but
its surface is decorated in a chequerboard of gold and perhaps silver.
Going by medieval fashion we can expect that this pattern is part of
someone's coat-of-arms, a medieval bishop perhaps?
Gavin Evans April 2004
Silver gilt Eisteddfod medal 1823. The inscription suggests that the
medal was awarded at Carmarthen to John Tegid for his winning poems of
strict meter verse on the subject of Sir Gruffydd Nicholas and the
family of Dynevor. The reverse is engraved with an image of a castle,
13th - 14th century silver annular brooch from Whitland
Life-long Learning? Social Inclusion? Terms which are earnestly discussed in the museum world as much as anywhere else these days. And thanks to an Innovation Grant from the Council of Museums in Wales, Carmarthenshire County Museum is taking its own few, new tentative steps forward.
There are a number of school pupils in Carmarthenshire who have dropped out of mainstream education. The County Museum, with its collections, is a fantastic resource. Together with craftspeople, living history presenters and supporting activities, and working with home tutors, we have devised a package to encourage these pupils to look at history and geography in a new and creative way, and hopefully encourage them back into school. I say we, but I have to say that all the hard work of organising and delivering the scheme has been done by Stephanie Marks and Lyn Russell from Glan-y-Môr School to who we are very grateful.
The Scheme has been running since March and I am pleased to say that, to date, the pupils have thoroughly enjoyed their visits to Abergwili. Future sessions will be organised through the coming Autumn Term.
This year the Young Archaeologists Club celebrates its 30th birthday. It also saw the County Museum do its bit to promote the club for the first time by taking part in National Archaeology Day on Saturday, 20th July. Together with Archaeoleg Cambria Archaeology (Dyfed Archaeological Trust), we organised an open day in Abergwili.
There was a full programme with quizzes, a colouring competition and talks about archaeology and artefacts. The ever-popular Neil Richardson worked his usual ceramic magic by helping the children produce their own medieval floor tiles. Cambria also brought along their computerised database so that visitors could investigate the history of their locality - something which was very popular with the adults. Also a number of interesting finds from back gardens, including a range of coins, were brought along for identification by the experts.
It attracted 59 children (and 63 adults!) and is one which we can hopefully build on for future years. In addition, some of the children expressed interest in a more regular programme tied in with the Young Archaeologists Club, so there may be further developments in this direction, too. Thank you to the Friends for helping fund the day!
National Archaeology Day 2003
National Archaeology Day on Saturday, July 19 2003, was a great success. This is the second year we and Cambria Archaeology have run this event together. Needless to say, this year was bigger and better than the last, and Cambria's excavation at Carmarthen Castle was a huge additional bonus.
The morning was heart-stopping as hardly anybody appeared. It turns out that it had been advertised in the press as an afternoon event only. And so it proved after lunch: 175 visitors went through the museum doors, while others simply took part in the activities outside.
Included in the day were Paul Watkins of Llys Brenhinol, who demonstrated medieval arms and armour, Ray Caple who recounted the siege of Dryslwyn Castle, drawing on his experience of the 1980s excavations, while traditional technology was demonstrated by Helen Campbell (baskets) and Simon Hedger (wood turning). In addition there were Cambria Archaeology's historic sites and monuments database, quizzes, competitions and talks on archaeology. Most popular with children was the 'excavation' in the grounds. As a messy, hands-on introduction to 'digging', it was a major draw - no surprises there. Always a source of inspiration and enthusiasm, Geraint Bevan of the Schools Advisory Service was the prime mover behind setting up the 'dig'. Geraint has been a great advocate for the Museums Service for many years. He was closely involved in the production of our Victorian Education pack and the World War 2 bomb shelter and continues to arrange teacher training days at Abergwili.
Everybody involved worked extremely hard to make the day successful. Of the Friends, I would like to thank Chris Bolton for his help with preparations in the morning and Paul Bolton for diving in to help visitors wash finds from the Castle excavation. Thanks also to Gwyneth and David Grindrod for the loan of their gazebo; it certainly prevented Owain Glyndwr (Paul Watkins) from rusting up during a sudden heavy downpour. Luckily, there was no lightning. The Friends also supported the day financially by picking up Simon Hedger's fee. Thank you.
"Fire & Light"
An art and science exhibition inspired by the Swansea copper industry will be opening at Abergwili on September 12. Further details will be posted to you in due course.
Temporary closure of the Museum
We have decided to close the museum between 10th November 2003 and 28th February 2004. This is to allow the construction of the new public lift and improvements to the WCs in line with the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act. Your committee is seeking alternative venues for Friends events which have been booked for this period.
However, opportunities in adversity. The closure will allow us to carry out some well-needed minor maintenance, and finish off the new rural life gallery.
Come and Play
We've long recognised the need for a space for family activities and early years teaching. That space has now been created with the transfer of the dairy display into the new rural life gallery. We now have to fill this new space, in a fun way. Obvious inclusions will be the video microscope, objects for visitors to handle, art materials, jig-saws, puzzles and quizzes.
You have a new committee and a number of 'old' faces have stood down. On behalf of the museum, I would like to thank Jenny Anscombe, and especially Arwyn and Celia Price for many years of sitting on the committee and supporting the Friends activities and events in so many ways.
Gavin Evans September 2003
Throughout the summer of 2003 the National Museum & Gallery in Cardiff had an exhibition of paintings which the Fund had helped to buy over the years. Immediately opposite the entrance, in pride of place, were the two paintings of Llangennech House, loaned by our museum. It was very gratifying to see that among the list of contributors towards their purchase was the Friends.
The half-term "Big Draw" was again very popular, with 141 visitors over two days. Penny Prileszk inspired everyone to produce excellent work, which was then put on display.
The photographs show the pleasure of both children and adults at the event, which Friends were pleased to fund.
The Children's Gallery
The old dairy gallery has been converted into a "hands-on" room for use by young visitors to the museum. It is a large sunny room with computers and tables for various activities. Much of the "Big Draw" took place in it.