The Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion

Recognising the contribution of Wales in contemporary society

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home > Transactions > Volume 21 - 2015 > Moving Towards Cultural Democracy: Redeveloping St Fagans

Moving Towards Cultural Democracy: Redeveloping St Fagans

The open air museum at St Fagans is about to embark on its greatest period of change since its foundation in 1948. One of seven sites which make up Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales (AC-NMW), the Museum is undeniably loved and well-visited, receiving an average of around 600,000 visitors every year. It is Wales’s most visited heritage attraction and the second most visited open-air museum in Europe.

Considering this record of success, it is fair to ask why redevelopment is considered necessary. All organizations need to evolve and change in order to survive and stay relevant. In doing so, they need to consider their core values, the essence of their original vision and ambition. The first head of St Fagans, Iorwerth Peate, set out his vision in a pamphlet in 1948, the year the new Museum was opened.1 In it he declares that folk museums should link the past to the present in order to ‘provide a strong foundation and a healthy environment for the future of their people’. They were to be ‘living community-centres, not memorials of a dead culture […] [each one a] fountainhead of new cultural energy’. St Fagans, according to Peate, was to be ‘a picture of the past and a mirror of the present […] an inspiration for our country’s future: from it will radiate energy to vitalize Welsh life’.

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