Wallace100 @ Swansea Museum

wallace 100 Logo2013 marks one hundred years since the death of Alfred Russel Wallace. Swansea Museum is planning a major exhibition opening in October 2013 to celebrate his life and legacy. You might not have heard of Wallace but you will have heard of Charles Darwin and the theory of evolution – a theory which Wallace co-founded.

Wallace worked as a land surveyor and civil engineer with his brother in South Wales during the 1840s. Wallace would go on to co-found the theory of evolution but has remained obscured from popular history by his much more famous partner Darwin. The Wallace 100 project chaired by the Natural History Museum is an informal international association of organisations who are celebrating the 100th anniversary of Wallace’s death.

Swansea Museum is a partner of the Wallace 100 project. Our Exhibitions and Events Officer recently attended the launch of the Wallace 100 project in London which was also attended by David Attenbrough and opened by the comedian Bill Bailey (a Wallace enthusiast and patron of the Wallace Fund).

Read more about Wallace and centenary celebrations in this BBC article:


A ‘fragment’ of history links Swansea with Cairo

SM195932A piece of ancient glass over 3000 years old, displayed in Swansea University’s Egypt Centre, has been identified as being part of an Egyptian vase which is currently in the Cairo Museum.

The rare fragment, originally belonging to pharaoh Amenhotep II (1498-1387 BC), is on loan from Swansea Museum. The 4cm long piece of glass displays two names of the king picked out in red and yellow on a background of brilliant blue. The names are surmounted by red sun-disks and yellow feathers.

The glass fragment was given to Swansea Museum in 1959. Circumstantial evidence suggested it came from the tomb of queen Tiye (wife of king Amenhotep III). It had been given to Swansea Museum by Miss Annie Sprake Jones of Abergwili who received it from her brother Harold Jones. Harold Jones had been employed as an artist in the tombs of the Valley of the Kings in the early 20th century.

It was German Egyptologist, Birgit Schlick-Nolte who discovered that the Swansea fragment is part of the vessel in the Cairo Museum which comes from the tomb of Amenhotep II. The complete vessel measures around 40cm in height and consists of a white amphora decorated with brown and light blue decoration.

Dr Carolyn Graves-Brown, Curator of the Egypt Centre, said: “Glass of this date is extremely rare in Egypt and was usually given as diplomatic gifts between the kings of the region. Vessels and other artefacts from the reign of Amenhotep II are part of an extraordinary array of sophisticated techniques from an innovative period of glass production. Large vessels such as that in Cairo Museum, from which our fragment originated, were not attempted even in later years. At this date the manufacture of glass was a royal monopoly and as valuable as gold and silver.

“ The Swansea piece with the king’s name would have been prefabricated and placed upon the body of the vessel while it was still in a molten state. Interestingly, one of the names for glass in ancient Egyptian was ‘the stone that flows’.”

Garethe el-Tawab, Curator of Swansea Museum said: “ The loan of this very rare piece of ancient glass by the Museum to our colleagues in the Egypt Centre is a marvellous example of partnership working in international research”.

Visitors will be able to see the rare piece of Egyptian glass for themselves when they come to the Centre which is open from Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 4pm and is free to the public. The Centre will be closed from  22nd December reopening on Wednesday 2nd January 2013.



Pan Wales Sports Exhibition: A Question of Sports featuring Swansea Olympic display

With Olympic fever sweeping the nation, it’s a great opportunity to learn about the Olympics nearer to home. Swansea Museum is hosting an exhibition to pay homage to Swansea Olympians and Paralympians alike.

The exhibition features new displays including real Olympic torches and information on Swansea Olympic gold medallists like Ellie Simmonds; and also a whole section on Aubrey Bradford Smith who was competing as a gymnast in the 1924 Olympics, you are sure to learn something new!

The exhibition is running until the 4th January with free admission.

Griffith John Word Clouds

Griffith John Word Cloud

Our new exhibition Griffith John, from Swansea to China makes for an interesting word cloud. Take a look at the ‘cloud’ for a small teaser of the exhibition!


Historic Olga to set sail again this summer

DISADVANTAGED schoolchildren from Swansea will soon have the chance to sail on an historic vessel.

The Olga, a Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter built in 1909, is now back in the city after a major restoration that’s returned the boat to its original glory.

She is moored at Swansea Museum’s pontoon in Swansea Marina which will be open to the public over Bank Holiday weekends and throughout July and August.

Swansea Council staff at the museum are now gauging interest and working on a programme of activities that will include Swansea secondary schools and organisations like the Swansea Youth Offending Service.

The restoration of the Olga at a specialist Gloucester shipyard is part of a multi-million pound scheme to make Swansea Bay a Watersports Centre of Excellence. The scheme is being funded by the Wales European Funding Office and the Welsh Government through Visit Wales and the Regeneration Area programme.

A grant towards Olga’s conservation was also received from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport through the Museums, Libraries and Archives PRISM foundation.

Drawings and specifications from 1909 were used to design the galley, saloon and sleeping accommodation.

Swansea Museum is now interested in hearing from volunteers who may have the skills and experience to help crew the vessel. Trips along the Gower coast and further afield will be announced later in the summer.

Cllr Graham Thomas, Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Recreation and Tourism, said: “This is the only remaining Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter that’s in public ownership and belongs to a museum. Its restoration means it now looks as magnificent as it would’ve done in its prime in the early 20th Century.

“It’s our intention to start running trips and sailing classes for disadvantaged children aboard the Olga from the early summer before opening up the opportunity to the wider community.

“Swansea has a rich sailing and maritime heritage and this scheme will help bring the past back to life and offer generations to come a fantastic classical sailing and learning experience.”

The Watersports Centre of Excellence scheme also includes the construction of a centre for watersports on the promenade opposite St Helen’s.

Work that’s now started on site is expected to be complete by the end of July. Kite-surfing, kite-buggying and stand-up paddle boarding are among the activities that could feature at the centre.

Other features of the overall scheme include replacing the existing Swansea Council building at Knab Rock with a purpose-built facility that will include public toilets, showering facilities, changing rooms, an office and a tourism information distribution point.

Contact Swansea Museum for more information about the Olga on 01792 653763.

Copperopolis Exhibition @ Swansea Museum

Apologies, a very rough walk-through, taken and edited on an iPhone.


Swansea Museum Calendar 2011 now on sale…

Swansea A4 Glossy 2011 Calendar

NOW JUST £3.99 in the museum shop.

'Ugly, lovely town' – New Exhibition – Opens in the New Year.

Swansea, that ‘Ugly Lovely Town’
Swansea has been synonymous with the poet Dylan Thomas ever since he branded the city an “ugly lovely town”.
But Thomas wouldn’t recognise his home town these days; it has grown and changed, becoming a city, a far cry from the Swansea he knew. In this exhibition we explore the changes, from the early days, through the war years to the present day.

Those that remember the old Swansea will remember many of the sights that now no longer exist, other than here in the exhibition.

Our location map will guide the visitor to the places you can see illustrated in the paintings and prints on display.

Gallery One – 18th January – 8th May, 2011