Over the October half term across Wales, our museums will be going that extra mile and offering a range of exciting, explosive and engaging activities, events and resources designed to beat lockdown boredom and blues. As all museums across the Nation close their doors in compliance with Wales’ Coronavirus ‘firebreak’ lockdown, their teams are busy preparing to share activities, workshops and events planned for half term as part of Welsh Museums Festival, online.

Speaking about the Festival, today Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Elis-Thomas, said “I’m proud of the resilience, commitment and enthusiasm our museums are showing as they work to ensure their collections and knowledge can be shared though their doors are closed during this challenging time. This half term in lockdown will be particularly difficult for families and lonely for many. As we have seen throughout this pandemic, culture is a vital tool in maintaining wellbeing, so I’m delighted our museums are doing their best to provide online resources and activities to entertain and educate during Welsh Museums Festival week.”

Welsh Museums Festival is an annual event presented by the Federation of Museums and Art Galleries of Wales, 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. This year, that seems more important than ever as we work to support families and young and old alike through this lockdown.”

From exciting experiments and magical, scientific forays into the world of Harry Potter on National Waterfront Museum’s online Festival Stage as part of Swansea Science Festival, to the Museum of Cardiff’s interactive Museum in My Kitchen and Abergavenny Museum’s series of online talks about the Treasures of the Royal Collection, there’s something to delight all ages. There are also some downloadable local history and heritage themed walking trails to encourage some outdoor wellbeing and plenty of online Halloween sessions to sufficiently get spooked. Add to that a range of resources to help you time travel back to the time of the Romans in Britain and the age of heavy industries, as well as top tips from museum curators about how to curate a mini exhibition on a tray, or a time-capsule to bury in the garden, and there’s a sense that half term in lockdown might be not be too bad.

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!

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

Angharad Wynne
Author: Angharad Wynne

Welsh Museums Festival Manager since 2019. History buff, and arts, culture and heritage freelancer.