National Museum Cardiff
Discover art, archaeology, natural history and geology. With a busy programme of exhibitions and events, we have something to amaze everyone, whatever your interest – and admission is free!
Although not the oldest of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales’s buildings, this is the first location of National Museum Wales, officially opened in 1927.
Situated in the heart of Cardiff’s elegant civic centre, today it houses Wales’s national archaeology, art, geology and natural history collections, as well as major touring and temporary exhibitions.
Discover the secrets of our ancestors from the Neanderthals a quarter of a million years ago in the Archaeology gallery, Origins: in search of early Wales. Everyday objects and beautiful artefacts tell the stories of people in Wales and explore our links with the past.
The Art collection at National Museum Cardiff is one of Europe's finest. See five hundred years of magnificent paintings, drawings, sculpture, silver and ceramics from Wales and across the world, including one of Europe's best collections of Impressionist works.
Take an amazing journey in Evolution of Wales from the very beginning of time to the present day. The story begins in space with the Big Bang and takes you on a 4,600 million-year journey, bringing you face to face with dinosaurs and woolly mammoths. Find out how life evolved in Wales and which dinosaurs roamed the land.
Witness the diverse Natural History of Wales on an expedition which begins at the seashore and ends in the mountains. Experience some of the unique environments that make Wales home to over 900 Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
Open Bank holidays
The Welsh national archaeology, art, geology, botany and zoology collections. Highlights include one of the finest Impressionist art collections in Europe and the 'Evolution of Wales' exhibition - the history of Wales from the Big Bang until today, complete with dinosaurs and woolly mammoth.
Archaeology, Coins and Medals, Decorative and Applied Art, Fine Art, Natural Sciences
Key artists and exhibits
- La Parisienne
- The Blue Lady
- The Kiss
- Evolution of Wales
Wriggle! The wonderful world of worms
- 18 June 2016 — 30 September 2017 *on now
An exciting, family-friendly exhibition delving into the wonderful world of worms. Crawl inside the amazing ‘wriggloo’ and get an earthworm’s eye view of the world. Discover the mind-blowing diversity of worms and find out more about where and how they live. Use our fun interactive game to discover what kind of worm you really are! Explore how worms have crawled into all areas of popular culture, from books and movies to heavy metal music.
Discover with us…
Awesome Worms – some of the most weird and wonderful worms, such as the bone-eating snot flower which lives on whale carcasses at the bottom of the sea and the Bobbit Worm, a 3.4 m worm which is able to slice a fish in half! (display contains live animals)
Worm or Not a Worm – describing different types of worms and other animals, which may get confused with worms, including our interactive ‘Worm or Not worm’ quiz. Discover the huge diversity of different worm species with beautiful images and a spectacular model of a Strawberry Spaghetti Worm.
Worms ‘R’ Us – explaining the worm research that goes on behind the scenes, including a virtual slide microscope with specimens for you to try out.
From Fossils to Fantasy – an area looking at worms in popular culture such as books and films. This includes a model of the fossil worm named after Lemmy (from rock band Motorhead) and a variety of fossil worms from the Museum’s collections. You can even work out what kind of worm you’d be with our interactive game!
Size Really Matters – exploring the sizes of different worms, from little ragworms to huge bootlace worms over 30m long. You can follow our bootlace worm rope from other galleries into Wriggle!
The Wriggloo – see the world from a worm’s eye point of view. You can wriggle down and explore an earthworm’s habitat and see what animals live alongside them. (display contains live animals)
- Family friendly
Bacon to Doig: Modern Masterpieces from a Private Collection
- 18 February 2017 — 31 January 2018 *on now
This exhibition brings to Cardiff one of the UK's most important private collections of modern British art. The collection was created over a number of decades, with work often being purchased before the artists were famous. The collection features work by many of the very best British artists of the 20th century including Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Barbara Hepworth and David Hockney.
The collectors’ knowledge and passion for art has created an outstanding collection, with each artist being represented by work of such quality, that they would grace the walls of the greatest museums in the world. Francis Bacon, now internationally recognised as one of the very best painters of the modern period, is represented with two outstanding paintings from the 1950s and 60s.
Close friends of Bacon in the so-called ‘School of London’ also feature including a portrait by Freud, and expressionist canvases by Frank Auerbach and Leon Kossoff. These figurative works are complimented by more abstract works by the painter Ben Nicholson and sculptures by Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Anthony Caro. Contemporary art is also strongly represented with paintings by Peter Doig and two important vases by Turner-prize winner Grayson Perry.
We are extremely grateful to the owners of this collection for their generosity in allowing these works to be displayed in National Museum Cardiff.
- 8 April — 3 September 2017 *on now
This major exhibition celebrates the bold and colourful work of one of Britain’s most important and internationally renowned abstract artists. Featuring major paintings from across the artist’s career, this is the largest exhibition of Ayres’s work ever seen in the UK.
In the 1950s, Ayres was a pioneer of abstract painting, making work on a vast scale. She explored colour and space by pouring, dripping and staining paint onto the canvas. She was a leading figure in a generation of British artists who were responding to the latest international developments in Paris and New York, including the work of American Abstract Expressionists.
This exhibition presents a unique opportunity to see Ayres’s greatest works from the 1950s to the 1980s. It features loans from major public collections installed alongside rarely seen paintings from the artist’s own collection. Across this period Ayres was a regular visitor to Wales and her experience of the mountains of Wales had a powerful influence on her expression of the ‘abstract sublime’. This connection to Wales was strengthened when Ayres lived and worked on the Llŷn Peninsula between 1981 and 1987. This period coincided with a particularly productive phase in her career which will be explored in this exhibition.
Gillian Ayres was born in 1930 and studied at Camberwell College of Art 1946-50. Her work featured in many of the landmark group shows of the 1960s including Situation 1960. Major solo shows have followed, including the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford 1981, the Serpentine 1983, the Tate 1995 and the Royal Academy 1997. Ayres was awarded an OBE in 1986 and was made a Royal Academician in 1991.
There will also be interactive activities and interpretation within the exhibition aimed at children under 5 years old.
The exhibition is supported by the Colwinston Charitable Trust, Alan Cristea Gallery and a Jonathan Ruffer Curatorial Research Grant from the Art Fund.
- Any age
- 27 May — 5 November 2017 *on now
Coming to Wales for the first time — the world’s most amazing finds of dinosaur eggs and embryos.
Includes full size dinosaur skeletons and replicas, touchable models of dinosaur embryos and eggs, and even a huge 2.5 metre model dinosaur nest!
Get up close to the dinosaurs
Learn about dinosaur family life and how they cared for their babies
Learn to identify eggs from different dinosaurs, based on their shape and texture.
Find out about palaeontologists and their dinosaur discoveries
Be a palaeontologist and have a go in our ‘Big Dig Pit’.
- Family friendly
Cost £7 adults, £5 concessions, £3 children, £17/£13 families
Agatha Christie: A life in photographs
- 17 June — 3 September 2017 *on now
An exhibition of photographs, letters and personal belongings from the most widely published author of all time.
Discover rarely seen photos of Agatha Christie taken throughout her life, from her own personal collection. Each image is accompanied by a quote in Christie’s own words, drawn from both published works and unpublished personal correspondence, beautifully capturing her thoughts and feelings from early childhood, through both marriages and her international adventures, to her years as a world famous author.
Family photos give a unique insight into her life showing the real Agatha as an energetic and adventurous young woman with photographs of her surfing on a beach in South Africa and roller-skating down Torquay pier.
A timeline will sit alongside the pictures and mark the key milestones in Christie’s life, including the first performance of the world’s longest running play, The Mousetrap, and the publication of definitive works such as Murder on the Orient Express and And Then There Were None.
This is a unique opportunity to experience Agatha Christie has you have never known her – the Queen of Crime in her personal life.
The exhibition has been curated by the Christie Archive Trust and Agatha Christie Ltd with support from the Colwinston Trust.
National Museum Cardiff
Vale of Glamorgan
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