Paid association with National Museum Wales
We’re so lucky in Wales that all of our national museums are free to visit. They’re an incredible wealth of knowledge and give a hands-on look at what life has been like over the centuries in Wales.
Seven museums make up the group of National Museum Wales. In Cardiff we have National Museum Cardiff and St Fagans National Museum of History. Swansea has the National Waterfront Museum while Big Pit National Coal Museum is in Blaenavon the National Roman Legion Museum is in Caerleon. In North Wales you’ll find the National Slate Museum in Llanberis and in Carmarthenshire there’s the National Wool Museum in Dre-fach Felindre, near Newcastle Emlyn, Llandysul.
Cardiff Mummy Says is a family blogger ambassador for the museums and we are look forward to continuing to report on forthcoming events exhibitions and activities.
All of the museums have plenty going on for families this month. Here are some of the highlights from the seven National Museum sites for August 2018.
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National Museum Cardiff
Cathays Park, Cardiff, CF10 3NP
Tuesday-Sunday 10am–5pm. Open most Bank Holiday Mondays
At the National Museum Cardiff, you’ll find meteorites, fossils and the famous dinosaur skeletons, a humpback whale skeleton alongside hundreds of other creatures, plus paintings, statues and ceramics from some of the world’s most famous artists in the art galleries.
Read more about what to expect at National Museum Cardiff in our review here.
Visit the National Museum Cardiff website here.
KIZUNA: Japan | Wales | Design
FREE Until Sunday 9 September
See how Japanese culture and design has captivated the rest of the world – and how Wales has played its own distinctive part in this fascinating story of international exchange. In Japanese, Kizuna means the bonds of friendship, which is celebrated in this exhibition. Many of the works of art on display have come from major Japanese national museums especially for this exhibition and some have never been seen in the UK before.
FREE; Until Sunday 2 September
The museum’s collections belong to everyone, but only a small number of people normally make decisions about what is collected and how it is displayed. Is this fair? Who Decides? is curated by service users from The Wallich, a charity supporting people who have experienced homelessness in Wales.
Women in Focus
FREE Until Sunday 9 June 2019
Part One: Women Behind the Lens 5 May-11 November 2018
Part Two: Women in Front of the Lens 1 December 2018- 9 June 2019
Women in Focus is a year-long exhibition that explores the role of women in photography, both as producers and subjects of images. The exhibition draws on works from the permanent photographic collections at Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales.
Poppies for Remembrance
FREE Until Sunday 3 March 2019
This exhibition will explore how the poppy became the symbol for remembrance, and provide an opportunity for contemplation and reflection on loss and recovery. Poppies for Remembrance will also look at the science of poppy biodiversity, the many species of poppies worldwide and the threats to their existence. Part of the Welsh Government’s Wales-wide programme marking the centenary of the First World War, called Cymru’n Cofio – Wales Remembers 1914-1918.
Sea Plastic at National Museum Cardiff
FREE Monday 31 July-Sunday 5 August, 10am-5pm
2018 is the year of the sea and the National Museum Cardiff Youth Forum are using the museum for environmental activism during National Marine Week. Sea plastic will fill the museum’s sea life exhibitions at National Museum Cardiff. The youth forum will create installations using real sea plastic from Welsh beaches to raise awareness on the damage plastic is causing to the waters and wildlife of our fragile coasts. See the intervention, support the youth forum’s activism and learn more about what you can do to fight the plastic threat.
FREE Summer Holiday Museum Trail
Saturday 21 July-Sunday 2 September, 10am-5pm
Take part in the museum’s poppy trail this summer. Find your way around the galleries taking in some Welsh nature and amazing artworks as you follow a fun family flower trail.
FREE Saturday 4 August, 1-3pm
Aikido is a modern Japanese martial art but it draws influence from the days of feudal Japan and the samurai. Throughout the demonstration Aikido Cardiff, based in Morganstown, will take you through the fundamentals of Aikido, exhibiting a full range of strikes, throws and pins. Aikido is a weapons-based martial art, so you will also see a range of techniques using the sword, staff and knife.
Maeda Kamari calligraphy performance and workshop
FREE Saturday 4 August, 11am-12.30pm
Artist and calligrapher Maeda Kamari will be joining us from Japan for a unique performance of his art in the Museum’s Main Hall. Following the performance, visitors will be invited to have a go themselves.
Museum Sleepover – Dino Nights SOLD OUT
Saturday 11 August 5.30pm-Sunday 12 August 9am
£48 per adult or child; age guidance 6-12
A very special sleepover packed full of exciting dino experiences. Guests will take a torch lit tour to explore Wales as it was 200 million years ago; meet some friendly dinosaurs and watch their eggs hatch in a dino-show to remember; get creative with craft workshops inspired by fossils, footprints and bones from the Museum’s collection; enjoy a snack box and hot chocolate with a choice of extras from the toppings station; watch a film before bed; camp under the dome to dream of ancient lands filled with fabulous beasts; wake up bright and early for breakfast together before you head back to life in the 21st century. Must be pre-booked.
Obon: Lantern Festival Family Workshops
Tuesday 14-Friday 17 August, drop in 11am-4pm
£2; pay at shop on arrival
In Japan Obon is an important festival which celebrates the spirits of the dead coming back to be reunited with their families. Paper lanterns are lit to help guide the spirits home or to their resting place. In these family workshops you will visit the Kizuna exhibition, make and decorate an Obon lantern, and try floating it on our indoor ‘river’.
St Fagans National Museum of History
Cardiff CF5 6XB
Open daily 10am-5pm daily
Parking £5 per day.
Prams and pushchairs are welcome in St Fagans but they cannot be taken into most of the historic buildings other than Oakdale Institute, St Teilo’s Church and Gwalia Stores.
St Fagans National Museum of History brings to life the history of the people of Wales with more than 50 buildings from across Wales to explore. All were carefully deconstructed at their original location before being rebuilt on the museum’s 100-acre site, and furnished accordingly. There’s a Victorian school, a chapel, a toll booth, a miners’ institute as well as the Rhyd-y-Car mining cottages, each showing a different era. The museum stands in the grounds of St Fagans Castle and gardens, a late 16th-century manor house.
Read more of what to expect in our review of St Fagans here.
Visit the St Fagans website here.
CoedLan – High Ropes
Purchase on the day from the museum’s front desk
Participants must be 110cm tall. Children between 110cm and 130cm must be accompanied by an individual over 130cm.
Experience an exciting new high ropes course perched in the beech trees at St Fagans. Climb, swing, balance and wobble your way through the trees, and see the sights of St Fagans from above, before zipping back down to earth. Tackle CoedLan’s 18 different obstacles, including a balance beam, zig zag bridge, cargo net and a 50m zip wire.
FREE Sundays 5 August and 2 September, 2-3pm
The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales will be here with special guided walks this summer – Brilliant Bumblebees on Sunday 5 August and Bug Hunting on Sunday 2 September. No need to book in advance – meet your guide at the main entrance
Until Sunday 2 September; rides from £1 and suitable for ages 2-11
Visit St Fagans’ traditional fairground and experience the magic of a bygone era on vintage style rides.
St Fagans Real Food Market
FREE; Saturdays 18 August, 29 September and 13 October, 11am-4pm
Riverside Real Food will be at St Fagans once a month for their pop-up food market with stalls from some of South Wales’s best food and drink producers.
St Fagans Makers’ Market
Saturday 28 July until Friday 10 August, 10am-5pm
Small charge to cover materials for some activities
A number of stalls selling hand-made goods that you’d never find on the high street. Plus a chance to meet the makers and find out more about their crafts as they run workshops and demonstrations throughout the week.
Wednesdays 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29 August; from dusk (time varies each week)
£5 per person; age 8+; must be pre-booked
An exciting one and a half hour after-dark journey around the museum to find bats. Wear sensible clothing and bring a torch
Welsh language bat walks Tuesday 7 or 21 August subject to interest. See website for booking details.
Police Awareness Activity Day
FREE Sunday 19 August, 10am to 5pm
A chance to meet your local force and find out more about the work they do. St Fagans is free to enter although parking charges apply.
National Roman Legion Museum
High St, Caerleon, Newport, NP18 1AE
10am-5pm Monday-Saturday, 2pm–5pm Sunday
Wales was the furthest outpost of the Roman Empire. In AD 75, the Romans built a fortress at Caerleon that would guard the region for over 200 years. The museum is full of artefacts from Roman times showing how they lived, fought, worshipped and died. At weekends and school holidays, children can step back in time in a full-sized barrack room, try on replica armour and experience the life of a Roman soldier. The Capricron Centre is a hands-on area where families can dress-up and play games. The barrack room and Capricorn Centre are not open on Sundays.
Read more of what to expect at the National Roman Legion Museum (as well as the other Roman sites in Caerleon) in our review here.
Visit the museum’s website here.
Please note the National Roman Legion Museum will be closed to the public from Sunday 2 September until autumn 2019 for essential roof maintenance.
For Better or Worse: Women at War
FREE; Until Friday 31 August
An exhibition highlighting the challenges and opportunities faced by women caught up in war. It focuses on women’s lives during the Roman period and during the First World War and is part of the Welsh Government’s Wales-wide programme marking the centenary, called Cymru’n Cofio – Wales Remembers 1914-1918.
Meet a Roman
Tuesday 24 July-Friday 31 August; small charge for some activities
Chat to a Roman soldier in the Barrack Room about what life was like in the army.
Have a go archery
Wednesday 1, Saturday 4, Tuesday 7 Wednesday 8, Tuesday 14 Wednesday 15,Saturday 18 Tuesday 21 Wednesday 22, Saturday 25 Tuesday 28 Wednesday 29 August August.
Try your hand at some archery. A small charge applies.
FREE; Every Saturday
Visit the reconstructed barrack room and the Capricorn Centre.
Barrack room talks – 11.30am 12.30pm, 2pm and 3pm
Discover what life was like for a soldier in the Roman army. Visit our reconstructed barrack room and meet a facilitator who will show you the weapons and armour that the Romans used to fight off the Celts. Also a great chance for children and adults to try on some replica armour.
Capricorn Centre – open 11am until 4pm.
A relaxed area of the Museum where families can dress-up and play games.
Big Pit National Coal Museum
Blaenafon, Torfaen, NP4 9XP
9.30am – 5pm daily. Last admission 4pm. Underground tours 10am-3.30pm (may be suspended at busy periods).
Discover what life was like for Welsh miners in one of Britain’s leading mining museums. Big Pit is real coal mine where you can experience an underground tour lead by a former miner. Enjoy a multi-media tour of a modern coal mine with a virtual miner in the Mining Galleries, plus there are exhibitions in the Pithead Baths and Historic colliery buildings.
Family of Miners
FREE; Until Sunday 30 December
A photographic exhibition by Walter Waygood documenting mining and miners of Blaenafon from the 1970s onwards.
FREE Saturday 4, Wednesday 8, Wednesday 15, Saturday 18 and Wednesday 22 August, 11am-4pm
Soft play in the museum’s Play Lab for mini miners to enjoy. Suitable for under 5s. Must be supervised.
The Big Butterfly Count and Butterfly Making
Saturday 4 August, 11am-4pm; £1 per child
The Big Butterfly Count is a nationwide survey aimed at helping us assess the health of our environment. Butterflies react very quickly to change in their environment which makes them excellent biodiversity indicators. Butterfly declines are an early warning for other wildlife losses. Come to the Playlab and make a butterfly and join in the Big Butterfly Count.
Dig a Dinosaur
Wednesday 8 August, 11am-4pm; £1 per person
Excavate your own dinosaur…what will it look like?
Coity Tip Nature Trail
Wednesday 15 August, 11am-4pm; £1 per child
Tips such as the Coity Tip were once a familiar site in industrial communities and altered the landscape and environment forever. Since tipping has stopped, nature has gradually reclaimed this area which is now rich with plant and animal species. Pick up a trail a nature trail and then make flowers inspired by what you’ve seen.
Big Pit Bug Hotel
Saturday 18 August, 11am-4pm; £1 per person
Build a bug hotel, furnish it, take it home and see who visits.
Make a fossil necklace
Wednesday 22 August, 11am-4pm; £1 per person
Fossils take thousands even millions of years to form…but you don’t have to wait that long to make an instant fossil necklace at Big Pit.
National Waterfront Museum
Oystermouth Road Maritime Quarter Swansea SA1 3RD
Open 10am-5pm daily
Telling the story of industry and innovation in Wales over the last 300 years exhibits at the National Waterfront Museum include replica boats and an exploration of the exporting and importing goods; plus a collection of cars and vehicles from over the years.
Read about our visit here.
Visit the museum’s website here.
Pirates: The Truth Behind the Tales
FREE Until Sunday 30 September
As Wales celebrates its Year of the Sea, discover the truth behind the swashbuckling legends in a fun and fact-filled exhibition explaining the history of pirates, privateers and buccaneers throughout the world. Discover tales of treachery, treason and treasure through the ages, learn what it was really like to be a pirate and find out which were criminals and which ones acted within the law.
Pirate Rat Trail
FREE Wednesday 25 July-Sunday 2 September
Hunt down the escaped pirate ship rats that have taken refuge in our galleries!
FREE; Thursday 2-Friday 3 August 1pm, 2pm and 3pm
Have you got what it takes to graduate from the meanest, baddest school for swashbuckling scoundrels?
National Play Day
FREE Wednesday 1 August 10.30am-2pm
Calling all sea creatures, pirates and mermaids to join us for a sea-themed day of play! Fancy dress welcome!
Little Mice Club: Under the Sea
FREE Friday 3 August 10.30am-12pm
Drop in with your little ones to play, make and sing, and meet Morys the Museum Mouse. Exclusively for preschool children and their parents or carers. In partnership with Cymraeg i blant, Mudiad Meithrin and Menter Iaith Abertawe.
Dewch i Ganu – Come to Sing!
FREE Saturday 4 August 2018 and Saturday 1 September 11am
A warm welcome to Welsh speakers and learners to join musician Delyth Jenkins and learn Welsh through song in a fun and informal way.
Pop up Skate Park
FREE Saturday 4 August 12pm, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm
Join Swansea’s Exist team at a special pop up Skatepark. Watch the pros in action then join the coaches for a super fun session to pick up some new tips and tricks. Suitable for all levels. Ages 7+. No need to bring a board as all equipment will be available free of charge.
Museum Monthly Movies: The Goonies (PG, 1985)
FREE Sunday 5 August 2pm
Cult 80s classic in which a band of mischievous kids set out to save their homes from foreclosure by unearthing buried treasure. When their quest leads them into the lair of some vicious criminals, the kids find themselves in a race for the treasure – and their lives.
Toddler Time Monthly Movies: Muppet Treasure Island (U, 1996)
FREE Wednesday 8 August 10.30am
Join the Muppets on the high seas in this fun filled version of the famous pirate adventure.
Living Seas Live Roadshow!
FREE Wednesday 8 August 11am-4pm
Join the Wildlife Trust to go wild with the Sea Wales 7D augmented reality family experience featuring some of Wales’ epic marine wildlife and a virtual Dolphin Dive. Limited spaces – book on arrival.
Spice Islands Scratch and Sniff
FREE Thursday 9-Saturday 11 August, 12pm-3.30pm
Make a treasure map complete with real spices, and learn stories of exploration and exotic ingredients worth their weight in gold.
FREE Friday 10-Sunday 12 and Friday 24-Sunday 26 August, 12.30pm-3.30pm
Try your hand on a brilliant replica 19thC rope making machine that twists long threads into a perfect twine.
Explore Classic Film: The Black Swan (PG, 1942)
FREE Saturday 11 August 11am
The Black Swan is a 1942 American swashbuckler Technicolor film by Henry King, based on a novel by Rafael Sabatini, and starring Tyrone Power and Maureen O’Hara.
FREE Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 August, 11am-4pm
The sea has played an important part in the lives of thousands of Welsh people over the years and none more so than in Monmouthshire which has a proud fishing past that has ensured a plentiful supply of fish for its inhabitants over the centuries. Along with the coracle, which was once a common sight in Monmouthshire, and other fishing objects, the Blackrock Lave Netsmen of the Severn Estuary and others will show why this region played a significance role in the history of Welsh fishing and heritage.
Try your hand at netmaking, take a closer look at a coracle and dip your hand into the Netmakers’ tanks to see what you can find.
FREE Sunday 12 August 10am-3pm
With delicious fresh food and beautiful hand crafted goods, Marina Market takes place in Dylan Thomas Square, right next to the Museum.
Brought to you by Uplands Market team, it offers a wonderful array of stalls to browse on a Sunday in a great location.
Full Steam Ahead
FREE Sunday 12 August 12.00pm-3.30pm
A rare opportunity to see the Penydarren steam locomotive replica on the move (weather dependent). Of world importance, the original locomotive made the first recorded journey by steam on rails,and would initiate a revolution in transport in the nineteenth century.
Storytime with Mr Trevithick.
FREE Sunday 12 August 2pm
Hear the amazing tale of how the first steam locomotive came in to being in Wales, and how it all started with a gentleman’s bet…
FREE Monday 13-Thursday 16 August, 11.30am, 1pm and pm
Join award winning CBBC science communicator Jon Chase for hands-on experiments and demos to uncover a pirate’s science secrets.
FREE Saturday 18 August 12pm-3pm
Get hands on in our new GRAFT garden, sowing some seeds and toasting marshmallows.
Festival of Stitch: Makers and Traders Market
FREE Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 August, 10am-4pm
Gorgeous textile goods from some of the finest Welsh makers, along with traders selling fabrics, felt, fleece and fibres, and other stitch essentials.
FREE Wednesday 22-Saturday 25 August 12.30pm-3.30pm
Make a clever dial decoder to uncover Pirate fact from Pirate fiction.
Pirate fun day
FREE Saturday 25 August 12pm-4pm
Ahoy there me hearties! Join us to go pirate crazy with Cutthroat Crafts, Swashbuckling Storytelling and much more.
Black Bart Show
FREE Saturday 25 August 1pm and 3pm
Find out fascinating and unexpected facts about Wales’s notorious Black Bart and a pirate’s life at sea!
Born and raised in a small village in Pembrokeshire, Bartholomew Roberts didn’t choose to be a pirate yet became a fearless leader who terrorised the Caribbean, plundering over 400 ships and stealing gold galore.
FREE Wednesday 29 August-Saturday 1 September, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm
Have you got what it takes to graduate from the meanest, baddest school for swashbuckling scoundrels?
Explore Classic Film: Treasure Island (U,1950)
FREE Saturday 1 September 1pm
The treasure seeking adventures of young Jim Hawkins and pirate captain Long John Silver.
Museum Monthly Movies: The BFG (PG, 2016)
FREE Sunday 2 September 2pm
An orphan girl befriends a benevolent giant who takes her to giant country, where they attempt to stop the man-eating giants that are invading the human world.
National Wool Museum
Dre-fach Felindre, near Newcastle Emlyn, Llandysul, Carmarthenshire, SA44 5UP
April-September 10am–5pm, daily; October–March: 10am–5pm, Tues–Sat
National Wool Museum tells the story of the Welsh woollen industry, once the most important and widespread of Wales’s industries. Located in the historic former Cambrian Mills, shirts and shawls, blankets and bedcovers, woollen stockings and socks were all made here, and sold in the surrounding countryside – and to the rest of the world. Visitors can follow the process from Fleece to Fabric and visit the sympathetically restored listed mill buildings and Historic Machinery. Families can follow the specially designed trail, A Woolly Tale, and create their own guide to making and using woollen cloth, trying their hand at carding, spinning and sewing along the way.
Read more of what to expect at the National Wool Museum in Welshcakes and Wellies’ review.
Year of the Knitted Sea exhibition
Creatures of the sea brought to life in yarn form as part of Wales’ 2018 Year of the Sea celebration. The grotto will carry on growing all year – grab some needles in the museum and join in.
Scrappy Sheep Club – Bug Magnets
FREE; Thursday 9 and Saturday 10 August, 12-3pm
Inspired by the Natural History collections that have popped up around the Museum, make an insect from colourful air drying clay, then add a magnet to keep it on your fridge at home.
FREE; Wednesday 22 August, 11am-3pm
A drop-in event; unsuitable for children under 12 without an adult
Join Oriel Myrddin and become a wicker architect for the day!
Echoing early architectural forms, shapes and techniques using lath and wattle to make play houses from willow and found materials. Learn skills which you can then apply in your own gardens.
Scrappy Sheep Club – Print a Pirate Poster
FREE; Thursday 23 and Friday 24 August, 12-3pm
Try your hand at letterpress printing a poster inspired by the fearsomely successful Welsh pirate, Black Bart.
Black Bart Pirate Show
FREE; Friday 24 August, 1pm & 3pm
A bilingual show about Wales’s very own pirate Bartholomew Roberts who didn’t choose to be a pirate yet became a fearless leader who terrorised the Caribbean, plundering over 400 ships and stealing gold galore. The show will explore fascinating and unexpected facts about Black Bart and a pirate’s life at sea.
Meirion Owen’s Quack Pack
FREE Bank Holiday Monday 27 August, 11am-11.20am; 1pm-1.20pm and 2pm-2.20pm
A chance to watch Merion Owen’s famous Quack Pack in the museum’s meadow. The Quack Pack is a group of border collies and comical Indian Runner ducks provide entertaining, educational and interactive displays. They ducks are very social, comical, daring, have endless amounts of energy, and are eager to please in every Quack Pack performance.
Talk with Marine expert Katie Mortimer-Jones
FREE; Thursday 30 August, 12pm
Discover what creatures lie beneath the waves around Welsh coasts, including worms, shells, starfish and more.
Roald Dahl Show
FREE; Saturday 8 September, 1pm and 3pm
A bilingual show taking audiences on a magical adventure through Roald Dahl’s stories.
National Slate Museum
Llanberis, Gwynedd, LL55 4TY
Easter-October 10am-5pm, daily; November-Easter 10am-4pm, closed Saturdays.
The museum is based in the Victorian workshops built in the shadow of Elidir mountain, site of the vast Dinorwig quarry. Here you can travel into the past of an industry and discover story of the Welsh slate industry.
Visit Workshops and Buildings which look as though quarrymen and engineers have just put down their tools and left the courtyard for home. You can also hear the gripping Story of Slate, encompassing such great events as industrial unrest on the one hand, and the small details of everyday life on the other.
Visit the museum’s website here.
FREE; Monday 23 July-Monday 31 December
An exhibition bringing together new creative works including art, poetry and photography by local community and school groups, commemorating those young quarrymen who lost their lives in the First World War.
Slate to the Sea
FREE; Monday 23 July-Monday 31 December
A series of photographs from the archives showing slate ready for export from some of the ports of north Wales as part of the 2018 celebration of Wales’s Year of the Sea.
Slate Splitting Demonstrations
Free; daily; please check times on arrival
Experience the amazing craft of splitting and dressing the slate as one of the museum’s experienced craftsmen slice the slate in front of your eyes. As well as deftly splitting slate our craftsmen also create works of art out of stone – from ordinary circles to hearts, picture frames and intricate slate fans.
Homelife at the Museum
FREE; Tuesday 21 July–Saturday 2 September
Join the museum’s actors in residence this summer in the Chief Engineer’s House and the quarrymen’s houses.
Friday 3; Sunday 12; Friday 17; Saturday 25 August; 12pm-4pm
Call in to see Hannah, who’ll have plenty to tell visitors as she works on her rag rug and polishes her brasses. You might even be invited to give her a helping hand!
Saturday 4; Saturday 11; Friday 17; Friday 24 August; Sunday 2 September; 12pm – 4pm.
Hear what life was like for one family during the long Penrhyn Strike in these story sessions.
Summer of Slate
Monday 23 July-Friday 31 August, 1-4pm
Children’s crafts £1; additional charge for slate crafts
Get creative with the museum’s Art Cart. Drop in and decorate a piece of slate or create your own slate frame; colour your own geological timescale; try your hand at making perfect patterns in the foundry sandpit or get all dressed up in the quarrymen’s houses.
Have a go Blacksmithing sessions
Friday 3, Thursday 16, Thursday 23,Sunday 26 and Thursday 30 August, 11am and 2pm
£10; 11+ year; ages 11-16 must have a parent/guardian present at all times; booking essential on 029 2057 3711 or in the Museum shop
Learn basic blacksmithing skills and create a totally unique steel souvenir to take home. See website for information on adequate clothing required for safety reasons.