Are you taking part in our brand-new Wales History Trails Passport Challenge? Read the first in our spotlight features, where we’ve been inspired by October’s Black History Month to explore our diverse history and culture.

1.    National Museum Cardiff 

At National Museum Cardiff you can visit the Reframing Picton exhibition (open until January 2025). It provides a more comprehensive picture of Haverfordwest-born Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Picton (1758-1815) and his legacy as Governor of Trinidad at the turn of the 19th century. 

This includes his brutal treatment of the people of Trinidad, including the torture of 14-year-old Luisa Calderon – information that was not part of the museum’s previous interpretation, which saw his portrait hung in a prominent position at the museum for more than a century. 

2.    Museum of Cardiff 

A 10-minute stroll from National Museum Cardiff is Museum of Cardiff, where you can learn about the city’s story from the people who have shaped it. 

One very interesting and diverse artefact that can be found at the Museum of Cardiff is an Ethiopian coffee pot. Hibo moved to Cardiff from Djibouti in 1991 and when her mother visited she gave Hibo the Ethiopian coffee pot to remind her of home: “Even though my family are from Djibouti, my mother always enjoyed going to Ethiopia for holidays and drinking coffee there. When I came to Cardiff I was very happy when I found out I could get Ethiopian coffee here!” 

On 1 November you can also drop by to listen to Mymuna Soleman from Butetown and Cath Little from Llanrumney share some Cardiff stories. Find out how and why their families came to live in Cardiff. Enjoy hearing them share some of their favourite traditional stories, songs and rhymes.

3.    Rhondda Heritage Park Museum

At Rhondda Heritage Park Museum, they have on display an original single of Paul Robeson’s appearance via transatlantic telephone cable in the Tenth Annual Miners’ Eisteddfod, on 5 October 1957, at Porthcawl Grand Pavilion.

Paul Robeson was an American singer, actor, and civil rights activist. He supported the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the South Wales Miners for decades. He formed an unbreakable bond with the Rhondda miners, in a chance meeting that took place in 1929 as Robeson made his way home after a matinee performance of Show Boat. He was struck by their singing after they had walked to London in protest at being blacklisted by their employers. Robeson joined the march and famously gave a rendition of his international hit, Ol’ Man River.

Between 1 and 3 November 2023, you can drop in to the commemorating culture craft sessions and make your own blue plaque, just like Paul Robeson’s (featured)


4.    Abergavenny Museum

When in Abergavenny, go to the town’s museum, which includes ‘The Welsh Kitchen’ – a Victorian farmhouse kitchen. As part of this permanent exhibition, you can learn about how items from around the world found themselves to be in this kitchen. You can take a closer look at the stories of international slavery, exploitation and human suffering behind ordinary items like sugar and tea. 

5.    St Fagans National Museum of History 

The Wales is Proud exhibition at St Fagans is open until the end of this year. Every summer, Pride marches and events are held across Wales to celebrate LGBTQ+ equality and visibility. Pride started as a protest, a statement of resistance, and activists in Wales have protested for LGBTQ+ rights for over fifty years. The display includes objects from Pride events held across Wales, protest banners and LGBTQ+ campaign badges.

6.    Cynon Valley Museum 

Since April 2023, Cynon Valley Museum has a Purple Plaque in memory of Rose Davies (1882 – 1958), who was a prominent public figure in her lifetime, but largely unknown now. Rose Davies had a long and illustrious career in politics and public administration, working to improve education, maternity services and birth control; firstly, in Aberdare and later in Wales as a whole. She was the first woman Chair of the Aberdare Trades Council in 1918 and Glamorgan County Council councillor in 1925. There are numerous accounts of her achievements in the newspapers of the day, as far afield as Pennsylvania, in the US.

7.    Conwy Culture Centre 

Year-round you can explore stories, collections and features on Conwy’s Black community at Conwy Culture Centre. At the time of writing, they have an art exhibition about Black boxer, football coach and gardener Joseph Taylor. While it is not part of the passport challenge, it is worth including, as the Colwyn Bay Congo House/African Institute is a major North Wales Black history story. Reverend William Hughes preached in the Congo from 1882 until poor health forced him to return to Wales in 1885. He brought with him two students: Kinkasa and Nkansa – the Congo Boys. He and his new companions toured Welsh chapels, giving lectures in different languages, raising funds and selling photos. Visit the museum in spring to learn more about what happened to Kinkasa, Nkansa, and Rev. Hughes himself in a brand new exhibition.

Author: CarysMair