As museums across the Nation hang up festival bunting and prepare to welcome thousands to enjoy over 200 events – many of which are free – during half term week, as part of Welsh Museums Festival, they’re keen to point out that, contrary to what most of us might think, our museums are as much about our futures as they are about our past.
Speaking about the Festival, today from St Fagan’s National Museum of History, Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Elis-Thomas, said “Our Museums teach us about our history but importantly, they’re an investment in Wales’s future. These vibrant places of learning are important visitor attractions, and welcoming places at the heart of their communities that support wellbeing and skills development. And of course they also make a significant contribution to the Welsh economy. Wales’ culture is vibrantly alive. It is arguably our most important asset and export. Our museums are beacons of that culture and the future we’re creating.”
Welsh Museums Festival is an annual event presented by the Federation of Welsh Museums, which is the strategic body for museum and art gallery professionals in Wales. It currently represents over 100 unique accredited Welsh museums, from the very small to our great national museums. Together, these invaluable collections tell the story of Wales, and are a treasured resource for learning, exploration and knowledge about our local and national identity, and how we have lived here in Wales since the dawn of time.
Speaking about the Festival, Welsh Museums Federation President, Victoria Rogers said, “The Welsh Museums Festival provides a focus for our wonderful museums in Wales to create events to empower and further connect with their local communities, and to excite a new generation about the history and stories of their place. In addition, we welcome visitors from across the globe to engage with our Nations’ story. Museums are guardians of our past, but they are essentially about people and about creating our future.”
Here are just a few of the ways Welsh Museums contribute to our future:
• Visits to museums in Wales contribute £78.3 million to our economy each year.
• Museums are a vital part of the Wales tourism economy, which as of 2017 is estimated to have an annual turnover of £4.8 billion. Visiting historic attractions and museums remain top reasons why visitors choose to come to Wales.
• Our museums are not just there for visitors though. They are at the heart of their communities, offering workshops and activities that bring together often isolated elders in our communities, young mothers, families etc.
• 75% of people in Wales attended or participated in an arts, culture or heritage activity at least three times in the past year. 40% of those were museum visits.
• They contribute to the nations’ wellbeing: those visiting a museum in Wales report improvements in wellbeing of between 14% and 28%.
• Our Museums are important centres of learning for our Children. They learn about their own heritage and their place in the world through our collections. Last year the Egypt Centre in Swansea alone engaged with 3904 school children from 130 schools (Egypt Centre Statistics)
• Volunteers are highly valued members of our teams – indeed, most of our museums could not function without them. The benefits are two way: our volunteers report that it supports their wellbeing, develops important skills and employability, and we know that they make a significant economic contribution, for example, Cynon Valley Museum’s volunteer team contribute an equivalent of over £50,000 each year in volunteering time. – that’s just one museum!
Over the October half term across Wales, our museums will be going that extra mile and bursting with activity from Dippy the Dinosaur’s visit to the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff and Dragon Day at Rhayadr Museum to torchlight adventures in museums at night, a chance to try your hand at mummification at The Egypt Centre in Swansea, time travel back to WWII at RWF Museum Caernarfon, a celebration of all things Japanese at Pontypool Museum, a chance to re-create a legend at Oriel Môn, an exploration of the moon and some sneaky science at the Waterfront Museum, Swansea and the chance to have a peak at Bangor University’s Bramwell Natural History collection. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also lantern making and a parade to commemorate the fire at Cambrian Mills, 100 years ago, an exploration of the museum’s anatomy at Cynon Valley Museum, virtual reality at Big Pit, Medieval Fun, a museum hunt for Wally at the Museum of Cardiff, Art for Babas at Glynn Vivian Gallery and a whole host of craft and Halloween making and mayhem for the whole family in museums and galleries across Wales.
And it’s not just for children and families. There will be talks, art classes, a chance to explore Erddig’s textile collection, a gathering of memories from Newtown’s manufacturing industry, lectures and behind the scenes visits to get up close with treasured artefacts and collections. And the great news is that many of the Festival’s events are absolutely FREE!
Welsh Museums Festival is funded by Welsh Government.
Full details of activities during Welsh Museums Festival are available on the festival website: www.museums.wales