St Fagans National Museum of History is a true treasure of Wales and Britain. It was fantastic to see it named Art Fund Museum of the Year last week, beating off four other contenders from around the UK to win the prestigious £100,000 prize.
St Fagans allows visitors to explore the history and culture of Wales. Last year it completed a £30 million redevelopment, opening new galleries and workshop spaces to reenergise the experience. The result is tremendous.
Living within a five-minute drive or half hour walk from St Fagans, I am slightly biased. It represents our nearest go-to place for escaping the house and entertaining a toddler. When we can think of nothing else, we go to St Fagans and see what’s happening. It also hosts a number of activity sessions for tots, which is helpful.
As a local photographer, it provides a bounty of opportunities through period shop fronts and traditional tradespeople, including a miller and a clog-maker.
If you look carefully at this BBC news story about the award win, you can spot me and the dog in a remotely photographed image. The last time it snowed I had to get up there and capture the old style details blanketed in white.
The lecture theatre refurbishment in the main building of St Fagans has also hosted a number of press conferences for the Football Association of Wales. National team manager Ryan Giggs, his players and staff have been photographed in the lecture theatre and around unusual historic buildings on the site.
As well as a unique charm in the winter months, summer sees the gardens of St Fagans come alive with vibrant colour. Tree-lined avenues, well kept lawns, beautiful water features and leading lines make it a dream venue for wedding photographers.
St Fagans Museum isn’t alone in offering a sense of history and peace away from the hustle and bustle of Cardiff city centre or the bay.
Another short drive from us is Insole Court. A Grade II listed Victorian gothic mansion on the Fairwater-Llandaff border, Insole Court is also open to the public free of charge.
Though on a smaller scale to St Fagans, it too has well kept gardens, beautifully maintained interiors to explore, and function room facilities in the stables where activities for little ones are held.
A few short years ago we were a mere hop and skip away from the chaotic activity of Cardiff city centre and Cardiff Bay. With baby and dog in tow, we now we seek more sedate pleasures. An amble around some agreeable gardens or a nose through some dusty books more than satisfies our middle-aged entertainment needs.
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