By Mustakim Hasnath
The seven national museums of Wales saw a record rise in visitor numbers in the past year. A stark 65% increase on the total number of visitors in the Amgueddfa Cymru family, the museums opened their doors to nearly 1.9 million people.
The Amgueddfa Cymru family of museums showcases Wales’ national collections of art, history and environmental science exhibitions. One of the major contributions that has enabled the group to achieve the record number of visitors it has was the £30m redevelopment of the St Fagans National Museum of History, which also won the category of ‘most prestigious museum in the world’, in the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2019 Awards.
The National Museum for Wales (NMW) includes five hundred years of paintings, drawings, sculptures, silver and ceramics from Wales and across the world, including what many claim is some of Europe’s best collections of Impressionist art.
NMW statistics highlight that in the last ten years, Amgueddfa Cymru have discovered over 400 new species of living and extinct species, spanning across 65 countries of origin. With over 1,000 volunteers, it adds an extra £83m to the Welsh economy and constitutes as the largest provider of learning outside the classroom in Wales. Due to the support it receives from the Welsh Government, all of the sites are free to enter.
The statistics also reveal that the museums have reached 208,388 schoolchildren and students.
with five million objects from Wales’ collections of art, history and science.
The NMW’s Director General, David Anderson, said in a statement that the NMW would be developing a ten year strategy, aiming to set out how it will work with partners across Wales to achieve its goals as part of the Welsh Government’s Wellbeing of Future Generations Act.
It was through projects such as this award, which allowed Amgueddfa Cymru to, as a spokesperson from the group told Gair Rhydd, “create a museum where history is made with rather than for people, and which celebrates the cultures of everyone who lives in Wales.”
Roger Lewis, President of Amgueddfa Cymru, said in a statement, “Our aim is to enable as many people as possible to enjoy and engage with all of our museums across Wales. Social inclusion and cultural democracy are our watch words.”
Earlier in October, it was revealed that an additional £50m per year will be invested in regional museums and galleries in England over the next five years, by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
Whilst this funding was provisionally for English museums, the Museum Association’s director Sharon Heal said, “the MA would continue to work with policy-makers in the devolved nations to advocate for similar levels of investment in museums in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.”
This increase in the number of visitors highlights how there is a continued interest in the wide array of collections Wales has to offer and will hopefully continue to educate and inspire more visitors in the future.