One of the jewels in Wales’ crown are it’s museums. From world class institutions of international renown to small quirky museums run by enthusiastic voulunteers, they offer a wonderful day out for all the family, whatever the weather. And many of them are free! Here are some of the highlights of South Wales museums:
Situated on the outskirts of Cardiff, The Museum of Welsh Life is Europe’s largest outdoor museum – a vast 40 hectare collection of over 30 reconstructed historic buildings brought to the site from all corners of Wales. Examples include a tollhouse, a woollen mill, a cock-fighting pit, an 18th century chapel, a row of Victorian shops and old farmhouses. The history is brought to life by craftspeople who work in the buildings. There are also Welsh farm animals to see – a magical day out for the whole family.
At Blaenavon World Heritage Site, you can see western Europe’s best preserved 18th century ironworks and take an unforgettable underground tour of Big Pit National Mining Museum of Wales coal mine – 300 ft below the surface!
The National Waterfront Museum in Swansea tells the story of Wales’ industrial and maritime heritage and is home to the world’s first passanger train.
The 1940s Swansea Bay Museum invites you to step back in time to the early 1940s, when Swansea was a bombing target for the German Luftwaffe. This quirky little museum is a true hidden gem, telling the tale of the city as a theatre of war.
The Speed Museum overlooks Pendine Sands and tells of the great 1920s rivalry between Welshman John Parry Thomas and Englishman Malcolm Campbell as they battled against eachother for the world land speed record. Thomas died gruesomely when he crashed and got decapitated by part of his car Babs which is now exhibited at the museum. Campbell, who raced in his legendary Bluebird car, vowed never to race at Pendine Sands again.
The impressive National Museum of Wales in Cardiff city centre tells of the evolution of Wales as a journey from the beginning of time to the present day. It is alongside the National Gallery of Wales which houses one of the finest art collections in Europe.
Caerleon Roman Amphitheatre and Museum does exactly what it says on the tin and will hit the spot if you are a history buff. The museum lies inside what remains of a Roman fortress, one of only three permamnent fotresses in Roman Britain (along with York and Chester). And there’s also the small matter of a preserved amphitheatre, the only one of its kind in Britain.