This is the fifth in the series of guest posts written by one of SUNCAT’s Contributing Libraries. This month, Jennifer Evans, Assistant Librarian at Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, writes about the library and its collections.
Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales was founded by Royal Charter in 1907, the foundation stone was laid in 1912 and the building was officially opened to the public in 1927. The Library, with in-built panelling and shelving was custom made, as were the two original iron roller racking stacks.
Our main purpose here in the Library is to serve the museum curatorial staff, together with other colleagues but we are also available to external researchers and students. All visits by external visitors, that is members of the public, students etc., are by strict appointment only.
Our journal holdings are extensive and complement the curatorial departments; Art, Archaeology & Numismatics, Zoology, Botany, Geology and Industry. However, our collections of conservation and museology journals are also strong. We house the libraries of the Cardiff Naturalists Society and the Cambrian Archaeological Association, which means we receive, record and house their books and journals. There is also a large library at our sister museum; St Fagans: Museum of National History, which holds a large collection of journals concerning the social history of Wales and also many early Welsh language journals.
With regards to books, as with the journals, our various departmental libraries hold material complimenting curatorial disciplines. However, the Main Library holds books pertaining to houses and architecture, conservation, museology (everything to do with museums: history & theory, collection management, exhibitions, education etc.), general reference works and extensive Welsh historical society transactions.
The Museum Library has been the recipient of several generous loans and donations over the years. Some collections are finite and remain the same as when they were passed to the Museum, whereas others are added to as part of the Library’s collecting policy.
The Willoughby Gardner Collection comprises of early natural history books bequeathed to the museum in 1953; included in this collection are two incunables (pre-1501 books), as well as a number of writings by Conrad Gesner and other 16th and 17th century writers. Our Tours of Wales Collection comprises of late 18th & early 19th century topographical books. The Vaynor Collection consists of a number of 16th and 17th century astronomical works, including several of the writings of Galileo. The Tomlin Collection is a fine collection of books and journals on mollusca published from the late 17th century onwards, given over several years during the 1940s and 1950s. It is generally recognised as being the finest collection of its subject outside of London.
One of our largest collections is on long term loan from The Davies Trust. The Davies Sisters, Gwendoline and Margaret, were great benefactors to the Museum by donating their collection of Impressionist Art. However, they also established and ran their own private printing press, called The Gregynog Press, during the 1930s and 1940s. Gwendoline especially was a leading light in the foundation of the Press, and her personal collection of the Press’s books, that is all the special bindings, is currently on long term loan to us.
SUNCAT would like to thank Jennifer Evans for writing this post. If you would like to write a post on your SUNCAT Contributing Library and its serials collections please let us know.