Housing Wales’s national art, natural history and geology collections, and temporary exhibitions
Situated in the heart of Cardiff’s elegant civic centre, today National Museum Cardiff houses Wales’s national art, natural history and geology collections, as well as major touring and temporary exhibitions. If you want to stand and stare, there’s plenty to please your eye – from Impressionist paintings to gigantic dinosaurs. For exploring you can pick up a range of gallery trails to guide you around the Museum.
The Art collection includes one of the finest collections of Impressionist paintings in Europe. See five hundred years of magnificent paintings, drawings, sculpture, silver and ceramics from Wales and across the world. The Museum also has the largest space in Wales for the display of modern and contemporary art. Artists on show include Monet, Renoir, Rodin, Cézanne, Turner, Degas, Magritte, Graham Sutherland, and Welsh-born Richard Wilson, Thomas Jones and Sir William Goscombe John, plus pre-Raphelite works from Victorian Britain and British landscape art.
The Natural History galleries house animals, birds and insects from Wales and all over the world, including the world’s largest Leatherback Turtle, an enormous basking shark and the huge skeleton of a Humpback Whale. Discover the diverse natural history of Wales on this expedition from the seashore to the woodland and beyond. Enjoy the spectacular gallery scene based on Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, one of the most important seabird colonies in north-west Europe and discover springtime in our Welsh oak woodland.
In the Evolution of Wales gallery find out more about the Big Bang 4600 million years ago and how our planet was formed until the last Ice Age, when our modern landscape was shaped. Here you will take a journey through space and time where you can see real meteorites, a piece of moon rock, spectacular fossils and come face to face with dinosaur skeletons and woolly mammoths.
The museum has something to offer everyone and has a regular programme of events and activities. Guided tour: Highlights of Art – A free tour of the art galleries with a Volunteer Guide. Daily 35 min tours from 12:30pm
Admission Free. Opening times: 10am-5pm. Closed Mondays except Bank Holidays.
Pre-Raphaelite Welsh landscape acquired by Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales
Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales has bought a significant Pre-Raphaelite painting of a North Wales landscape, thanks to support from the Art Fund and private donors. ‘Sandbanks on the Mawddach, Barmouth’ by John Ingle Lee (1863-4) is an impressive example of a Welsh landscape during the Victorian period.
The oil painting is a dramatic view of the Mawddach Estuary, an area to the south of Snowdonia National Park in northwest Wales. Lee’s painting looks eastwards and inland from a viewpoint above Barmouth known as the ‘Panorama View’.
Surviving works by John Ingle Lee (1839-1882) are very rare, yet his art is increasingly recognised and sought after and his paintings are ambitious examples of a young Liverpool artist embracing Pre-Raphaelitism in its prime.
Born in Liverpool in 1839, John was the fifth of seven children. The family business eventually grew to become George Henry Lee’s, a renowned Liverpool department store run by John’s two eldest brothers. Lee first exhibited at the Liverpool Academy in 1859, and from 1863 exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy in London. Although perhaps too young to participate in the important Pre-Raphaelite exhibitions of 1857, ambitious works such as the Walker Art Gallery’s Sweethearts and Wives, probably his best known painting, were unmistakably aligned with Pre-Raphaelite techniques and ideology.
The Panorama View, within a mile of Barmouth, has been called ‘one of the grandest views in Wales’. The whole of the estuary can be seen at one glance. The painting captures the full impact of the view and the vastness of the expanse ahead. Swirling rainclouds hide Cadair Idris from view and create opalescent light effects on the waters of the estuary, where tide and river wash over an ever-changing bed of mudflats and sandbanks.
Andrew Renton, Keeper of Art, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales said:
“We’re hugely grateful to the Art Fund and private donors whose generous support has made this acquisition possible.
“The acquisition is an important addition to Amgueddfa Cymru’s outstanding collection of Welsh landscape art. It depicts an iconic vista which is significant in the history of Welsh art and literary culture, as well as making an imposing statement about the role of Wales in Victorian art and Pre-Raphaelitism.
“The Museum has extensive collections of eighteenth- and twentieth-century views of north Wales, but Victorian landscapes are underrepresented. It was a crucial period of development in that genre. In the mid nineteenth century, with increasing accessibility to remote areas by train or road, Lee was one of a growing number of artist tourists leaving industrial heartlands such as Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham for the ‘unspoilt’ wilderness of northwest Wales.
“Many were drawn to the mountains of Snowdonia and Lee followed in the footsteps of numerous great British landscape artists and writers. In going to the Mawddach Estuary, John I. Lee followed in the footsteps of Richard Wilson, John Varley and John Sell Cotman.
“Sandbanks on the Mawddach, Barmouth shows the continuation of that legacy at the dawn of the industrial age.”
Stephen Deuchar, Art Fund director, said: “This painting’s subject matter and history make it a very appropriate acquisition for National Museum Wales., and we’re pleased to have been of help. To see it alongside the museum’s other works evoking the striking beauty of the Welsh landscape will be a delight”
The oil on canvas is now on display in the Art galleries of National Museum Cardiff, where you can see other important examples of Pre-Raphaelite art, as well as other landscape painters of the time.
Junction 32 of the M4. For satnav use the post code CF10 3NP.
From Cardiff Central Bus Station take bus number 53 or 85 to the Museum. From Cardiff Bay take the Bay Car bus number 6. You can plan your journey using the Traveline Cymru website or by calling their helpline on 0300 200 22 33.
The nearest train station is Cathays Station, approximately 5 minutes walk from the Museum.
+44 (0)29 2039 7951
National Museum Cardiff