Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum Wales
Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum Wales (AC-NMW) is a government sponsored body made up of several of the largest museums in Wales (including the National Museum Cardiff, National Slate Museum and the National Waterfront Museum). As a joint network of valuable cultural institutions they have been able to become the largest provider of learning outside the classroom in Wales.
The Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales YouTube channel alone contains over 100 fascinating videos including this 40 minute video of the Blaschka Glass models rotating in 4k resolution.
Towards the end of the 19th century Leopold Blaschka and his son created these spectacular replicas of bizarre sea creatures by working primarily with glass. In Blaschka's day, museums were just beginning to showcase wildlife found from all over the world as curiosities for their visitors. But due to the difficulty of preserving soft sea creatures for display there was a lack of sea life in these exhibitions.
Blaschka and his son solved this problem by using intricate glass working techniques to recreate these deep sea discoveries. His work was considered a marvel of both the scientific and artistic worlds due to the accuracy of the replications as well as the beauty of the creations. Thanks to Amgueddfa Cymru these can now be viewed online in stunning detail and if that piques your interest you can read more about the Blaschka Glass exhibition on the AC-NMW website.
St Fagans National Museum of History
St Fagans National Museum of History is an award winning open air museum and one of the most popular heritage attractions in Wales. This unique experience was created by transporting and rebuilding over fifty historic buildings from all over Wales to be rebuilt in the castle grounds at St Fagans.
A must see attraction is the Rhyd-y-car Terrace. This terrace of six houses was initially constructed in 1795 for miners and their families. They have been rebuilt at St Fagans and furnished to represent six Welsh households at different times in history between 1795 and 1985.
You can read more about the Rhyd-y-car Terrace on the AC-NMW website but thanks to Google Expeditions you can now take a virtual tour of the terrace from your sofa! If you follow the Google Expedition instructions on the St Fagans website you can download the Expeditions app for free, and then view these houses for yourself. The app provides a virtual reality, first person view of the homes with helpful annotations that explain what you're looking at and really immerses you in the experience.
Art Collections Online
National Museum Cardiff is host to the Welsh national collection of art as well as a large catalogue of works from artists all around the world. This vast collection is exhibited in 15 galleries that tell the story of Welsh and European art over the last 500 years. Thanks to the Davies sisters, this includes the largest selection of French impressionist art outside of Paris. But you can also view this magnificent collection and more online.
The Art Collections Online browser allows you to browse thousands of paintings, drawings, watercolours, photographs and applied art pieces with the push of a button. You can search by the artists or designers if you would like to view their full portfolios or you can search by name if you are looking for a specific piece. Alternatively you can simply refresh the page to get a randomly selected work of art presented for you.
If you have more of an interest in archaeology then you can check out the Collections Online browser for a broader look at all of the items that Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum Wales has exhibited online. Try searching 'Roman' for a look at some amazing artefacts from ancient wales.
The Cynon Valley Museum's Exhibition at Home page is another place where local artists can have their work showcased virtually. The powerfully expressive paintings of Lee Shot and the empowering photography of Nigel Whitbread are currently being exhibited. Going forwards this virtual gallery will continue to promote art from the best artists, artisans and crafters from the Cynon Valley and beyond.
Online learning resources
If you're looking to inspire your kids with some educational activities from the museums of Wales then the online catalogues from Amgueddfa Cymru have everything you will need. The National Roman Legion Museum, for example, offers a selection of ebooks that you can read to learn about things like medicine in Roman times or what it was like to go to a Roman school.
In addition, the Welsh Museums Federation links page contains the web addresses for over 90 museums, galleries and trusts in Wales. You can browse through these links and interact with the whole group of great Welsh institutions all over the country. Some great examples include the Storiel Museum learning programme of educational sheets and the London to Llantrisant Exhibition that describes the journey of the Royal Mint from England to Wales.
The Smallest Museum In Wales
Wales may be home to some monumental cultural institutions and distinguished galleries but there is a phone box in Pembrokeshire that proves museums can come in all shapes and sizes. Cilgerran village hosts the smallest museum in Wales and Hiraeth films have produced this short video tour of the phone box gallery to let you take a look inside for yourselves.
The museum is dedicated to Tom Mathias, a documentary photographer from Cilgerran who was active between the 1880s and 1920s. He mostly worked with portraiture and photographing family and social occasions but he was also a keen naturalist, bee keeper and astronomer. Some of his works have been preserved in this phone box as the smallest museum in Wales and one of the smallest in the world.
Social media collection tours
There are a lot of museums all over Wales who are doing tours of their collections via social media so you can stay engaged wherever you are. The Monmouthshire museums have a collective way to promote their virtual exhibits on the MonLife Heritage Twitter page. You can learn about pieces from the various collections, stay up to date with which grounds and countryside walks are open and get news of film streaming events on other social media platforms too.
The Tenby Museum and Art Gallery Facebook page regularly showcase favourites from their collection. The Wrexham Museums Facebook page is also running regular updates for social media and they often use their collections to create quizzes for their visitors using mystery items, puzzles and more!
Following these pages is a great way to have interesting pieces of Welsh culture pop up on your feed every day.