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Cardiff Bay museum plans spark controversy

Cardiff Bay
Cardiff Bay is set to have a new Museum. Source: Gordon Plant (via Unsplash)
Plans to relocate the Museum of Military Medicine to Cardiff Bay has caused controversy from members of the community.

By Luthien Evans | News Editor

The plan to relocate the Museum of Military Medicine from Aldershot to Cardiff Bay has created tension between planners and local residents.

The plans show a four-story museum, built centering around old Army medical stories. This will be located on the water’s edge of Britannia Park in Cardiff Bay. Discussions are also taking place regarding a merging of collections with the Museum of Army Music. 

Plans reveal that the museum will have over 30,000 objects, telling the stories of military healthcare disciplines, with many of the items initially being shown in the museum in Aldershot. New exhibitions will be created, celebrating the history of Tiger Bay and Butetown’s connections to military medicine. 

The Director of the Museum of Military Medicine, Jason Semmens, has stated that the museum

must reflect the history and diversity of the local community”.

Cardiff Council state that the new museum will generate tourism into the Cardiff Bay region. It is suggested that it will attract 225,000 visitors annually, although this has been disputed by activists.  


Controversy surrounding the opening of the museum

Both the location and theme of the museum have brought controversy amongst the people of Cardiff with a range of people from politicians to environmental groups who have taken issue with the plans. Plans have even gone forth without the approval of local people, who have not consented to the construction.

The destruction of Britannia Park brings forth complications, as it is one of the last remaining green spaces in Cardiff Bay.

YouthStrike4Climate has stated that

“the destruction of Britannia Park would be a massive loss to the local community”. This is due to the fact the park “improves air quality and mental health”. 

The group further mentions the reported loss of £163,257 by the Museum Trust in 2019, as a reason for failure.

This in comparison to previous projections by the Trust and is in parallel to the 50,000 annual visitors to the US Army Medical Museum in Washington D.C. 

The planning committee underestimated the public’s’ reaction. The Curator of Welsh Black History has claimed

“It has no historical or cultural relevance to the local community, whose sole remaining green space is being threatened by yet another act of destruction for the benefit of militarism.”

This controversy has led to planned action against the construction of the museum. However, due to the COVID pandemic, immediate protest actions have been halted.

Petitions have been favoured instead. Such petitions, founded by Friends of Britannia Park, have enabled the group to speak at the Planning Committee. 

Planning is still going ahead however, with an increased PR trail having started. The museum plans on continuing its engagement with the community. Plans have been submitted to Cardiff Council Planning Department and a decision should be made in the coming months.  

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