The Museum Critics An Insight into National Museum Cardiff by James Briggs

Young Critics, 3rd Act Critics and Kids in Museums volunteers are working in partnership with Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales (ACNMW) on a new free project focusing on the quality and standards of exhibitions and programming at their sites across Wales. Those involved recently spent a day with the staff at the National Museum, Cardiff. We will be featuring the responses to the day from the participants over the next few days, next up Young Critic James Briggs.
Cardiff is continuing to grow enormously as a city and so is its status within Europe. Along with large growth within Cardiff we also have the National Museum continuing to grow, the museum houses some of Wales’ most famous pieces of art ranging from Ivor Davies to dinosaur bones, there is something for everyone. It is therefore particularly important that the museums are providing their visitors with what they want.
On the day we were very fortunate to be given a tour around certain parts of the museum. This was done to assist the members of staff at the museum with feedback on how the exhibits are designed and how it can be made more appealing for the members of the public visiting. We found when doing this it is in fact very difficult to come up with a wide range of criticisms, this mainly due to the fact that there is a large age range that must be catered for when people visit the museum; primarily young children and families and the older generation. Both of these age groups have very different needs and expect to see different things when visiting an art gallery or museum. It is this gap that needs to be bridged to ensure each and every person that visits the museum experiences everything they expected and more.
By attending an event such as this one you are given a unique insight into the world behind the museum doors and what it is like creating unique displays and galleries to really show off the amazing pieces of art. It was made apparent during the day to us that the job of a designer for a museum art installation is very similar to that of someone who works for the stage with directing and creating scenery for musical shows in theatre. This means that when going to the various parts of the museum today we were able to use our skills and expertise from critiquing musicals and plays to looking at displays and art. Much of what you see when at a museum is simply theatre with the use of lighting and sound effects to stimulate visitor’s senses; the only big difference is however we the public never get to see who created the staging for the artwork to be displayed on.
It will also be very interesting to see the response after Christmas when the new Indiana Jones themed exhibition ‘Treasures: Adventures in Archaeology’ will open for the first time in the UK.
I found it highly interesting today to look at the effects of production companies using the museum for TV programmes and Films such as Doctor Who. We also assessed if this could be used to draw more visitors in to see the exhibits. If this is the case could we be seeing far more interactive exhibitions in the future that follow the theme of the movies and television? Only time will tell.

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