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Perthyn - St. Fagans Museum (Excerpt)

Perthyn - St. Fagans Museum (Excerpt)



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Published by Annette Strauch

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Published by: Annette Strauch on Feb 03, 2009
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St. Fagans Museum near Cardiff, Wales, GB – PERTHYN – BELONGING -DAZUGEHÖREN
The MWL is one of the constituent parts of the National Museum and Galleries of Wales,NMGW, its name changes all the time, and forms part of the Museums DevelopmentDivisions. Furthermore it is one of Wales' most visited heritage attraction.The museum contains over thirty buildings re-erected from all parts of Wales, a Castle andgardens, exhibitions, craft demonstrations, and there are sometimes festivals which illustratemainly how the Welsh people have been living over the last 500 years. There is also a Celticvillage. The collections include the most important groups of re-erected buildings in theUnited Kingdom, furniture, household appliances, costumes and textiles and a collection of craft, agricultural and cultural material. In addition there are research departments,administrative and conservation sections in St. Fagans.Already at the world-fairs visitors had the chance to see and experience ethnographic villages.The world and country fairs dedicated with those villages special interest to vernaculararchitecture for the very first time (Pöttler, 1991, pp. 190 - 191). Different cultures werepresented and household items could be bought there (Köstlin, 1986, p. 14).The first desire for erecting houses of farmers and fishermen that can be found in literature,however, is that of Karl Viktor von Bonstetten of Switzerland on the occasion of a journey toDenmark in 1799 (Pöttler, 1985, p. 11). Although there were isolated examples of housesbeing relocated, it is generally acknowledged that the first true open-air museum was Skansenfounded by Artur Hazelius in Sweden. He was influenced by G. Hylltén-Cavallius whodescribed an old Swedish province in South Småland. The Swedish King Charles XV whoreigned from 1859 - 1872 was interested in old buildings (Rehnberg, 1984, p. 105).But Hazelius actually founded the first open-air museum with Skansen, near Stockholm, inSweden with the aim of scientific research in 1891. Before that, in 1873, he had establishedthe first folk museum, Nordiska Museet, in Stockholm (Zippelius, 1974, p. 23). It differedfrom other museums at that time, because it showed costumes, utensils and furniture of theordinary people (WFM, 1982, p. 8). Interiors were shown there with wax figures. At Skansen,however, the objects were shown in natural surroundings. It was the plan of Hazelius, tocreate a park for all the people which would attract wide population circles and also suchpeople who would never go to a museum (Uldall, 1957, p. 68). In Stockholm an Institute of Ethnology was founded in 1918 (Kavanagh, 1990, p. 19). As research scientist and languageteacher Hazelius knew the traditional culture was changing with industrialisation (Larsson,Westberg, 1991, p. 5). So the open-air museum Skansen began as an annex to the nationalcollection of objects. From the beginning it showed typical wild life of the country(Armstrong, n. d., p. 93).In Britain, between World War One and World War Two, many museums devoted themselvesto folk studies developed (Kavanagh, 1990, p. 22). First in the British countries, the Isle of Man thought of a folk museum.Whereas in the early days of the open-air museum only the dwelling houses were shown asrepresentative single buildings with fittings in park-like grounds without distinct grouping toone another, it changed in the course of the twentieth century. At first, the experts saw thefarm as a living and economic unit. Later, also herb gardens, orchards and fields were added(Kreilinger, 1991, p. 14).I believe that it was probably the raising of national consciousness and the lack of a verystrongly differentiated class structure that the oldest open-air museums are found in Sweden,Denmark, Norway and Finland. Other critics see it in a different way.A ground in the open landscape replaced the fields that used to be mainly situated in theEuropean towns. In the beginning, these parks were thought of as funfairs where the rural
culture was explained as the national culture of the different countries with buildings, interiors,customs, songs and costumes that were considered representative. This artificiality blurredwhen the open-air museums became more scientific and had their high claims (ibid., p. 14).Folk-life research generally began with the culture of the peasants (Erixon, 1958,p. 228). It isclear that the museums in the nineteenth century were not interested in showing the workingclasses (Lumley, 1990, pp. 63 - 85).In southern Europe there are fewer open-air museums than in the rest of Europe. This isbecause there have been different levels of awareness, the writer of the thesis believes. Theirpast is preserved in another way. If you got the Coliseum do you need to move a farmhouse?There are other opinions.Hazelius stands at the beginning of a development with Skansen in Stockholm that wasinitiated in Scandinavia and spread to other European countries:In 1901 the Frilandsmuseet ved Sorgenfri in Denmark was founded; in 1902 in Oslo/Bygdøythe central open-air museum for Norway; in 1904 "De Sanvigske Samlinger" in Maihaugennear Lillehammer; in 1909 one at Seurasaari in Helsinki in Finland; 1914 "Den Gamble By"in Aarhus (Pöttler 1985,pp. 13 - 16), just to name a few of the early set-ups in Scandinavia.The above-mentioned institutions are also used for interpretation in other contexts in thisthesis. Today one views open-air museums in Latvia, the Czech republic, Poland, Hungary(Szentendre which will be delineated later), Germany (Cloppenburg will be portrayed),Belgium, Slovakia, Rumania, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Russia, Great Britain, Ireland,Switzerland, Austria, France, the Netherlands, Italy and in other countries as well.The language of the Welsh people is mentioned here, because the character of a culturedepends a lot on the language that is spoken (Carter, Aitchison, 1986,p. 1). Welsh has a longhistory (Davies, 1993, pp. 3 - 13). It is a Celtic language.The Welsh translation of the Bible was one of the main reasons that Welsh continued to bespoken (ibid., pp. 24 - 26). Today there is a Welsh radio and television channels, RadioCymru and S4C. One can buy books, published in Welsh. From the national census in 1991 itfollows that 18,7 % of Wales' population speak the Welsh language.Oral and also written folk material witnesses that there was a tradition of storytelling. Thecentre for folk-narrative research is the MWL where over fifteen thousand examples of recorded narratives are archived.Wales' premier cultural event is the Royal National Eisteddfod which started in 1176 and wasrevived in the eighteenth century (Edwards, 1990, p. 5). It is a competitive annual festival of music, literature and arts. In the eighteenth and nineteenth century a lot of Welsh music wasplayed on the harp and on the fiddle (Saer, 1991, p. 23). One successful collection of Welshfolklore was Welsh Folklore by Elias Owen which was published in 1896 (Owen, 1991,p.121).Buildings at the MWL· 1951: Stryd Lydan barn originally built about 1550. It is a timber-framed barn for threshingcorn and storing hay.· 1953: Esgair-moel woollen mill, built 1760, one of the small mills where farmers took theirwool to get cloth. It is a working mill.· 1953: Kennixton farmhouse, built 1610, is a prosperous farmhouse from south-west Wales.This yeoman's house is red and thatched. The house represents 1790.· 1955: Abernodwydd farmhouse is a timber-built building, built 1678 from mid-Wales. Thefurniture is of around 1700.· 1956: Pen-rhiw Unitarian chapel, built 1777 shows an early Welsh Nonconformistarchitecture. There is no altar, but a pulpit for the preacher.
· 1959: Cilewent farmhouse, built 1470, rebuilt 1734, a long-house which gave shelter topeople and animals under one roof, is typical for mid- and south Wales· 1962: Hendre'r-ywydd Uchaf farmhouse, a timber built building, built 1508 is a better classof farmhouse.· 1962: Llainfadyn, a quarryman's cottage, built 1762, is a home of people who did not haveenough land to live off.· 1968: Tollhouse, built 1772 by the local gentry who built private roads and needed moneyfor them. The house represents 1843 when a series of disturbances against toll roads known asthe Rebecca Riots also took place and when tollgates were broken. This is a good example forthe siting of a building at the Museum of Welsh Life. The Aberystwyth tollgate house stood atthe junction of five roads and it is done so at the museum.· 1968: Tannery from Rhaedr built in the late eighteenth century. It is the last traditional oak-bark tannery to work in Wales, specialized in heavy leather for boot soles and horse harness.It is not working because of the smells that would develop.· 1970: Cockpit from Denbigh, Clwyd, where cockerels fought to death after they were trained.It was built in the seventeenth century. Cockfighting used to be a sport.· 1972: Llawr-y-glyn smithy from Powys was built in the eighteenth century. Horseshoes andhousehold items were made there.· 1977: Circular pigsty from Pontypridd, Mid Glamorgan built of dry stone about 1800.· 1977: Melin Bompren cornmill from Cross Inn, Dyfed, built in 1852. Most cornmills inWales like this one were operated by water. Dried oats were ground in the mill.· 1977: Hayshed built around 1870 which is a feature from Maentwrog, Gwynedd. Only therichest landlords created such sheds for their tenants.· 1982: Hendre-wen barn from Llanrwst, Gwynedd, built around 1600.· 1984: Y Garreg Fawr farmhouse from Waunfawr, Gwynedd, built 1544, has massive slate-block walls.· 1984: Maestir School from Lampeter, Dyfed, which was used from 1880 until 1916.· 1986: The saddler was important before horses were replaced by cars. The saddler's shop isfrom St. Clears, Dyfed, built in 1926 and used until 1982.· 1987: Rhyd-y-car houses from Merthyr Tydful, Mid Glamorgan, built about 1800. It is a rowof cottages where iron workers lived. All six houses represent different periods which will beexplained in detail later in this thesis in Chapter· 1987: Derwen bakehouse from Aberystwyth, Dyfed, built 1900, is a house where peoplefrom the town could bake their bread.· 1988: The summer house which comes from the Cardiff Castle ground and was built about1880.· 1988: Ewenni Pottery from near Bridgend. The kiln was built around 1900.· 1991: Gwalia Stores from Ogmore Vale, Mid Glamorgan.· 1992: A tailor's workshop from Cross Inn, Dyfed, built 1896, enlarged 1920 where clotheswere made. The shop looks as in the beginning of the 1950s.· 1993: Nant Wallter farmhouse from Taliaris, Dyfed, is a home for poor labourers whichwould have lived here. The walls are made of mud. It was created around 1770.· 1993: Post office named Blaenwaun from Blaenwaun, Dyfed, was built in 1936. Thebuilding in this case is of little architectural interest, but the post office like this was importantand typical for Welsh villages (AR, 1992 - 93, p. 39).· 1994: Sawmill from Llanddewi Brefi, Dyfed, from 1892.· 1995: The last major re-erection was that of the Oakdale Workmen's Institute from Oakdale,Gwent. It was built in 1916 and was an early form of leisure centre. Miner's Institutes werecommon during the last century in the south and north-east Wales. This has been the largestand most complex project at MWL (AR, 1994 - 95, p. 21).· War Memorial to commemorate the First and Second World War re-erected in 1995

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